The WM Phoenix Open, known for its spirited crowds and lively atmosphere, took an unexpected turn this past Saturday. Tournament officials were forced to halt entry, denying admission to scores of ticket holders due to overcrowding. To the dismay of fans and vendors alike, alcohol sales were also suspended in the afternoon amidst a chaotic scene at the TPC Scottsdale. According to Arizona's Family, Scottsdale Fire spokesperson Dave Folio considered the halt on alcohol sales a necessary call, saying, “If we can save one person’s life through the decisions that are made in that command center...”
In an attempt to manage the burgeoning crowds, vendors received orders to pause sales - a situation that left many in shock. Dustin Williamson, a bartender with seven years of experience on the greens, told Arizona's Family, “We’re jampacked, 50 people deep in lines, and I’m in the middle of making drinks for these two people, and our manager comes up to us and says we’re not serving alcohol anymore. Scottsdale Police says put a pause on all alcohol sales.” Williamson's account underscores not just the abrupt shift in operations but also the financial impact it had on those depending on the event's typically prosperous turnout.
The fallout from Saturday's disruption didn't stop at disappointed fans and disrupted sales. Williamson estimated that the impromptu dry spell likely cost him and his peers over $500 in earnings - a significant hit considering many traveled from afar to work at the event. Williamson conveyed his frustration in an interview with Ground News, remarking, “There were a lot of people that were very frustrated.” The loss experienced by Williamson and his colleagues echoed the sentiments of many who had high hopes for the day's earning potential.
The reasons for the shutdown extended beyond crowd control. Tournament officials pointed out that usual spectator areas became impractical due to the muddiness caused by adverse weather conditions, which contributed to the decision to cease alcohol sales and eventually lead many to depart the venue. Despite the disruption, officials did not provide commentary on potential changes to protocol or ways to prevent similar issues in future events. As the Open concluded, the dialogue seems as mud-splattered as the fields on which it unfolded, leaving a cocktail of questions unanswered and anticipations unmet.