PGA Tour, DraftKings break ground on first-of-its-kind sports book at TPC Scottsdale

Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic
Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic

Five years ago, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan estimates, he would not have been able to envision opening a sportsbook at the site of one of his tour’s 48 annual tournaments. If he had, though, he would have known where it would be.

“This would have been the location I would have said,” Monahan said, standing at a barren construction site at the corner of Hayden Loop and Bell Road. For years, this plot of land has served as the entrance to TPC Scottsdale, home of the WM Phoenix Open. Next fall, it will become home to a 12,000 square foot in-person sportsbook. On Monday, Monahan was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We know this will elevate the peoples' open to a new level,” Monahan said, moments after a ceremonial photo op with DraftKings CEO Jason Robins and Scottsdale mayor David Ortega.

The sportsbook, which DraftKings estimates will provide 100 to 120 jobs, will be the first at a PGA Tour site.

Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic
Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic

On the surface, it seems like an unusual arrangement. Since sports betting began to be legalized in states across the country in 2018, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have exploded in popularity due to the ease of access — bettors can place wagers at home, on mobile apps, in seconds. Arizona is among states that legalized the form of sports betting and also allows opening sports books at established sports venues. Since then, sports books have opened at Footprint Center and adjacent to Chase Field.

At the Phoenix Open, fans can bet on their phones while watching action, standing in line for beer or going to the bathroom. The notion that they will seek out an in-person sportsbook is antithetical to that accessibility.With this location, DraftKings is betting on a different type of consumer.

“When you think about the experience of going in a venue and everybody's cheering and watching on screens and you're betting while watching, it's an amazing experience,” DraftKings chief business officer Ezra Kucharz said. “With a company like ours, you can choose to have an experience where you sit on your couch on your phone or you can come to a venue where there's a lot more people and you can feed off the energy. … That's why we do these things.”

Robins added that a brick-and-mortar location could be more appealing to tourists from locations where sports betting is not legal and who may not have the app on their phones.

Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; A rendering of what the DraftKings Sportsbook location at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course will look like is shown during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic
Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; A rendering of what the DraftKings Sportsbook location at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course will look like is shown during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic

For the PGA Tour and the city of Scottsdale, the bet is more certain. Regardless of the location’s success, they will receive money from DraftKings as part of the arrangement.

Already, though, the PGA Tour has benefited massively from the sports betting boom.

“When you look at legalized sportsbetting, we're seeing more engagement (in legal markets),” Monahan said. “So when we look at our network broadcasts, our cable broadcasts, our social media platforms. The amount of time that people are spending researching play, researching what's happening what's happening in the field of play, researching historical data. There's a level of intelligence that's coming into our sport, a level of understanding that's probably far greater now than it was five years ago.”

The catch, of course, is in the PGA Tour’s ultimate contradiction. As he stood in a makeshift gazebo plastered with DraftKings’ logo, chatting with the company’s top executives, Monahan was asked whether PGA Tour players, caddies and executives are allowed to have the DraftKings’ app on their phones. His answer was as brief as it was obvious: “No.”

The freight train that is sport sbetting, though, isn’t stopping anytime soon. Although he said the PGA Tour doesn’t have explicit plans for another brick-and-mortar sportsbook at one of its courses, Monahan added that he thinks the TPC Scottsdale location could provide a blueprint for replicas elsewhere.

Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; DraftKings CEO Jason Robins addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic
Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; DraftKings CEO Jason Robins addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic

“We'll take the findings here and as opportunities present themselves, we'll consider them,” Monahan said. “But this is unique. TPC Scottsdale, the WM Phoenix Open, this is not just unique in golf, it's unique in all of sports. That's what makes this the perfect opportunity for the first one.”

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: PGA Tour, DraftKings break ground on first-of-its-kind sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale