TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium) – Played 2012
- Rankings: Golf Digest #44, Golf Digest Public #9, Golf Magazine #31, Golf Magazine Public #7
- Location: 110 PGA Tour Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
- Year: 1981
- Architect: Pete Dye
- Course Access: Public
- Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available
Score Card Information:
- The Players: 7,215 yards, Par 72, 76.8 Rating/155 Slope
- Blue: 6,661 yards, Par 72, 73.9 Rating/146 Slope
- Blended: 6,402 yards, Par 72, 72.3 Rating/143 Slope
- White: 6,103 yards, Par 72, 70.9 Rating/137 Slope
- Green: 5,019 yards, Par 72, 65.3 Rating/125 Slope
I was down in Florida on a vacation with my wife and had to get some golf on the agenda. We decided to stay at the Sawgrass Marriott which got me a round at TPC Sawgrass. I also played Sawgrass Country Club and the King & Bear course at the World Golf Village. I played the TPC course before I had decided to start my quest, so we didn’t get every hole in the photos.
Most golf fans know a great deal about the course from the coverage of The Players Championship, but if you don’t know much about the place a little history may be of interest to you.
The course was thought up by former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman. He wanted a course that would host the flagship event for the Tour. The odds were so stacked against him that the owner of Sawgrass Country Club bet him $100 that he would never get the financing/build the course.
Beman ended up purchasing over 400 acres of swamp for $1 from local businessmen. He got the course built with the guidance of Pete Dye and promptly installed a special plaque with a $100 bill and a nice message from the owners of Sawgrass Country Club commemorating his achievement.
The course had many unique attributes when it came into being. The course was built to house spectators with mounds and viewing areas all around the property. It was also one of the first courses to host a Tour event that was accessible to the general public.
The course was routed to favor no particular player. There are doglegs both ways, short holes, long holes, and many different visual looks. It has always seemed to produce different and distinct champions. The course is not for everyone and many professionals did not like it when it opened, but it is well respected in the world of American golf.
Alright, there is the history, let’s get to the course!
Hole 1 – 394 yards – Par 4
The course opens with a straightforward hole. The view below is back up the hole from the green.
The second hole provides some of the visuals that the course is known for worldwide. The tee shot is pinched by the trees on the left and the tee ball really requires a draw. That is already a different shot shape from what was needed on the first hole.
The water is not really in play on this hole, but the raised green presents a challenge. Like all the holes at the course, distance control is a key.
This was the time in the round where I started to have flashbacks to playing the course on my old video game console. A little fade off the left side of the fairway plays well here. I was in the left rough and the forecaddie wouldn’t let me hit it, saying I would hurt myself! My pride was wounded, but the rough was ridiculously thick since the tournament was only about a month before my round.
This tee shot is a tough one with the water all up in your field of vision. Picking the right line is crucial here.
The photo below shows the tee shot on the sixth hole. The bunker on the left and the trees on the right are the main hazards here. The next photo is of the relatively benign green.
Another difficult tee shot here, which requires a draw starting at the bunkers on the right. Too far left and you bring the waste bunker and water into play.
Not a lot of bells and whistles here, just a stout one-shot hole. It was made longer by the back pin.
We didn’t get any shots of the hole here, but here is another action shot. Sergio-like lag here! This picture neglects the flip at impact, the magic of photography.
Hole 11 – 579 yards – Par 5
This tee shot continues the strong par fives at TPC. Bust a draw down the middle and there may be a decision to go for the green.
The photo here shows the view from the twelfth tee. A little fade here is the preferred shot.
This tee shot has all kinds of trouble left with any miss on that side in the water. That front left bunker is no picnic either. Focus on your alignment on this shot.
This hole is a beast with trouble all up the left side. A long draw up the right side at the row of trees is the best line to leave a good angle to the green.
Here is yet another example of Dye flipping the necessary tee shot. A long cut is the play here.
This hole had a lot more bend to the left than I could see on TV. A big, slinging draw would be a great shot for this situation.
Here it is, the hole we’ve all been waiting for since we teed off this post. I know I was waiting for it since I put my shoes on this day.
As an avid hooker of the ball, this tee shot was terrifying. Yeah, I hit it in the water. This sliver of fairway looks tiny when you are standing on the tee.
We had a blast at TPC Sawgrass. The staff was very accommodating and my forecaddie was knowledgeable and friendly. An example of the personal touches was that my wife and I both got personally engraved bag tags with our names. She didn’t even play, but they made one for her. I had good playing partners also, which makes for a good day.
The course is so recognizable, but it was great to actually play it and see everything with my own eyes. You really get a sense of the scale of everything and what the pros see when they are trying to play shots. The course requires precision and thinking to get around in a low number. Playing the course will definitely enhance my tournament viewing. If you get a chance, make your way down to Ponte Vedra and play TPC. It was well worth it!