Scottsdale saw an uptick in DUIs in the area around the TPC Scottsdale golf course and citywide during the week of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, according to publicly-available crime statistics.
The Scottsdale Police Department made 11 DUI arrests within three miles of TPC Scottsdale between the tournament’s start on Jan. 28 and its final day Feb. 3, according to the LexisNexis Community Crime Map database.
It is unclear if any of those drivers had attended the tournament.
The number of stops represents a significant increase in DUIs in the area of the tournament. The department made a total nine DUI arrests over the previous 30 days there.
The area saw a similar trend in 2018, when the police department made nine DUI stops within three miles of the golf course during the tournament.
In the 30 days leading up the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Scottsdale Police Department made eight DUI stops within three miles of the course.
Due to the popularity of the event – which draws well over 200,000 on Saturday alone – and the level of alcohol consumption associated with it, the Scottsdale Police Department makes proactive efforts every year to prevent DUIs and other alcohol-related incidents.
“Alcohol is our biggest issue we deal with due to so many folks that are intoxicated,” Scottsdale Police spokesman Sgt. Ben Hoster said.
Hoster said the department has increased its efforts to keep the tournament safe.
“If you go back in history, we have been doing this for several decades,” he said. “When the event when first came to TPC, it was not as large as it is now. The 16th hole in those days was a few chairs and a canopy.”
Since then, the 16th hole, known for its raucous atmosphere, has transformed into an attraction of its own, complete with a skybox and stadium seating.
Hoster said that these days the department is “all-hands-on-deck” during the week of the tournament.
“With crowds in the 200,000 range, we are definitely focused on safety and making sure patrons have good time,” Scottsdale Police spokesman Sgt. Ben Hoster said. “For those that do cause problems, we can deal with them safely and effectively.”
The law enforcement presence includes uniformed officers from Scottsdale and Arizona Department of Public Safety on the course alongside bike patrol officers and contingents of undercover officers.
Bike patrol officers from Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert also worked the event.
“As former bike officer, I can tell you that bikes are very useful in that environment,” Hoster said. “Officers on bikes can quickly move through crowds and cover large distances quicker than running or even golf carts.”
Mounted officers helped with crowd movement at the end of each day.
Hoster said police work closely with the fire department throughout the event to share information and resources to deal with safety and health issues related to alcohol consumption.
Hoster said one of those efforts is the department’s Know Your Limit program that has officers set up at entrances and exits to the tournament and provide free portable breath tests so attendees can find out if they are legally impaired.
“This is an opportunity for them to walk up to our booth and officers ask them ‘what do you think your blood alcohol content is now?’ and they talk about how your judgment can be impaired,” Hoster said. “They will discuss the realities of impairment and the dangers of drinking and driving.”
At this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, officers with the Know Your Limit program had contact with 12,695 people.
Scottsdale Police Department also participates in a Waste Management Open DUI Task Force with other departments from around the Valley and conducts saturation patrols in order to stop impaired drivers.
“We’re looking for folks speeding, making improper turns, weaving out of lanes – things that indicate impairment,” Hoster said.
This year as part of the DUI taskforce, the Scottsdale Police Department made 152 total stops citywide during the tournament.
Those stops resulted in 33 misdemeanor DUI arrests, one aggravated DUI arrest and 11 extreme DUI arrests. Officers also made five DUI drug arrests during that time.
Hoster said those numbers do not include stops or arrests made by other departments participating in the task force.
Hoster the Scottsdale Police Department starts planning for the next Phoenix Open as soon as the current tournament ends.
“We have numerous meetings throughout the year where we talk about things that were done right and things that can change for the year to come,” he said.