On The Course

WM Phoenix Open: Unveiling The Thunderbirds' Legacy

For nearly 90 years, the efforts of Phoenix's Thunderbirds have been seamlessly woven into the fabric of the Phoenix Open. The Thunderbirds and the WM Phoenix Open have extended beyond the realm of golf by showcasing a commitment to making a positive impact on the local community.

WM Phoenix Open: Unveiling The Thunderbirds' Legacy:

Nine Decades of Excellence

For nearly a century, the WM Phoenix Open has stood as a beacon of wonder and excellence in the world of golf. Set against the picturesque backdrop of TPC Scottsdale, this iconic event not only pays homage to golf legends like Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer but also ushers in a new era of athletic prowess and historical significance.

Beyond the green fairways and stunning saguaro cacti, there lies a profound story of community engagement and philanthropy, woven into the tournament's fabric by The Thunderbirds, the esteemed hosts of the event.

The Thunderbirds' Journey:

Founded in 1937, The Thunderbirds emerged from the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce with a mission to explore new avenues in special events. Initially, a committee of five young executives, The Thunderbirds quickly expanded their membership to 55 active individuals (each of them choosing 10), a number that remains to this day.

The Phoenix Open got off to a slow start in the early years. Beginning in 1932, the tournament did not gain enough interest and was ultimately halted after the 1935 event. This came to an end in 1939 when a Thunderbirds founding member, Bob Goldwater, Sr., an avid golfer, suggested reviving the event.

Overcoming challenges and garnering support, Goldwater and The Thunderbirds successfully orchestrated the rebirth of the Phoenix Open, creating a lasting legacy that has endured for nearly nine decades.

A Legacy in Golf:

The early years of the Phoenix Open were marked by Bob Goldwater's tireless efforts to ensure the tournament's success. Selling tickets, orchestrating volunteers for the course, and bringing in big names.

With a young Byron Nelson claiming victory in 1939, the event was gaining momentum. The hype increases when influential characters like Ben Hogan, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope made their appearances.

Eventually, the Thunderbirds threw their full support behind the tournament, fostering a tradition that has persisted, with only a brief hiatus in 1943 due to wartime restrictions.

The Roll Call of Champions:

The list of Phoenix Open champions reads like a who's who of golf, featuring names such as Nelson, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Mickelson, Scheffler and more. As the tournament evolved, changing names and venues, it found its permanent home at TPC Scottsdale in 1987.

This year marks the 37th consecutive year the tournament will be held at TPC Scottsdale, a testament to the enduring partnership between The Thunderbirds and the world-class course. Notably, aside from TPC Sawgrass, TPC Scottsdale holds the record for the longest continuous stretch hosting a PGA TOUR event.

Philanthropy at Its Forefront:

Beyond the excitement on the greens, The Thunderbirds have dedicated themselves to making a lasting impact on the Phoenix community. Millions of dollars raised through the Phoenix Open have been directed towards benefiting various organizations and individuals. A particular emphasis goes to supporting the Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Clubs of Scottsdale, Phoenix, and East Valley, and the Valley of the Sun United Way.

Serving as the premier sponsor of the Special Olympics Summer Games, The Thunderbirds have created a platform for athletes to express their determination and passion for competition, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the well-being of their community.

Waste Management's Contributions

We can't talk about the WM Phoenix Open and it's notable partnerships without mentioning Waste ManagementWaste Management's impact extends beyond the green at the WM Phoenix Open. This PGA Tour event not only welcomes hundreds of thousands of spectators but also injects over $400 million into the economy, marking it as one of North America's most economically influential golf tournaments.

Environmental responsibility is a core focus, with the tournament proudly maintaining carbon-neutral, zero-waste status and a balanced water footprint. The WM Phoenix Open stands out for inclusivity, offering free access to emergency workers and veterans, promoting youth involvement, and ensuring accessibility for all attendees.

Recognized for 11 consecutive years as the world's largest zero-waste sporting event, WM, alongside The Thunderbirds and PGA TOUR, diverts 100% of waste from landfills through recycling, composting, donation, and energy conversion. 

Tune in to the WM Phoenix Open - Feb. 5-11 2024

As the 2024 WM Phoenix Open unfolds on the manicured grounds of TPC Scottsdale, the echoes of golfing legends and the heartfelt efforts of The Thunderbirds resonate throughout.

Beyond the excitement of birdies and the roars of the crowd, this tournament stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of golf, community engagement, and philanthropy, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of sports and society alike.

Be on the lookout for our WM Phoenix Open Content on the Short Par 4 Instagram!