The Phoenix Open History

Phoenix Open History

The Phoenix Open first started in 1932, but there was not a lot of local support for this event so they cancelled the tournament after the 1935 season. Bob Goldwater brought this tournament back to life in 1939. Bob Goldwater was a great golfer and encouraged his friends who were members of the Thunderbirds organization into chairing the event. He had been very persuasive to his fellow Thunderbirds that they decided to support and revive the tournament and once again the Phoenix Open was reborn in 1939.

Most of the work had to be done by Bob Goldwater because he still had a lot of persuading of the Thunderbirds in his path. When Bob was committed to a plan he stayed committed and never once backed down. Some of the responsibilities that Bob Goldwater achieved all on his own included having a printer make up tickets, selling to sponsors, and making sure they could use the Phoenix Country Club as the venue. He also invited a handful of celebrity friends such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Ben Hogan.

In the 1939 revival of the Phoenix Open a young man named Byron Nelson won the first prize, which at the time was $700.00. The second place winner was Ben Hogan who received $450.00. Due to the revival by Bob Goldwater of the 1939 Phoenix Open tournament the Thunderbirds sponsored every tournament in its history with the exception of one tournament in 1943 and that was because there were restrictions during wartime.

Some of the players that have taken first place in the tournament over the years include Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Jimmy Demaret, Gene Littler, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller, Miller Barber, Vijay Singh, Lee Janzen, Mark Calcavecchia, Phil Mickelson, and also Kenny Perry.

During the last 75 years the Phoenix Open has gone by several different names based on who the biggest sponsor of the event was at the time. Some of the names include Arizona Open, Western Open, The Phoenix Open, The Ben Hogan Invitational, The Waste Management Open and The FBR Open. The tournament started out at the Phoenix Country Club but has been played at the TPC Scottsdale for the last 23 years. The 2011 tournament will mark the 24th year that the tournament has taken place at the TPC Scottsdale. The TPC Scottsdale hosts the most TPC tournaments on the PGA TOUR with exception to the TPC Sawgrass.

Because this event has become so fan friendly the course at the TPC Scottsdale attracts the biggest variety of all the golf tournaments in the world. When the Phoenix Open used to be held at the Phoenix Country Club its biggest turnout was in 1986 at 186,000 people. The biggest turn out at the TPC Scottsdale was 550,000 in 2008, in one day alone attendance reached 186,000 people.

The spectators have grown immensely through the years of the Phoenix Open and the grand purse prize has also grown to over 1 million dollars. Back in the 1930’s the grand prize was $700 and look to where that number has risen! In the 1991 Phoenix Open that was the first time the tournament had seen a million dollar purse. That 1991 Phoenix Open tournament was won by Nolan Henke and he went home with almost $200k.  The leader in monetary winnings from the Phoenix Open is Phil Mickelson who has taken over $2.5 million over 20 tournaments. The second highest monetary winner of the open is Kenny Perry with $2.1 million in 22 Phoenix Open appearances.

Contact one of the select property management companies near Phoenix, Scottsdale or the surrounding areas to rent vacation rentals that are up to par to stay for this event.