Mention Sawgrass and the Players Championship at the start of the golf season and you immediately think of the par three 17th hole at the TPC Stadium course. It’s only right that such an iconic hole on such a well known course should be associated with the prestigious Players tournament but few will realize that Pete Dye’s layout was not the first to host the competition.
That inaugural honour falls to Atlanta Country Club but Sawgrass Country Club is where the Players was held for five years from 1977, at a time when the TPC was still an undeveloped swamp a couple of miles to the south of the property. The competition threw up winners in the shape of Nicklaus and Trevino during its five-year tenure over Ed Seay’s East and West nines at the Country Club before it moved to the newly constructed TPC in 1982.
Not that the Country Club just rolled over and died with the loss of one PGA event, far from it. Today, they have a fantastic 27-hole facility – the South nine superbly complements the East and West – laid out within a private residential estate that also includes a Tennis Centre and Beach Club, proving that life really does go on once a golfing road show has moved on to another location.
Sawgrass East/West is a pedestrian Florida golf course. The first hole is welcoming, relatively straight forward par 4. The 2nd is a longer par 4 dogleg right that is very tight. You must stay left in order to not be blocked out by the tall pine trees. However, if you venture too far left you will find yourself in bunkers at the elbow. The par 5 4th is demanding in that you really must hit three good shots to navigate around the hazards. The 7, 8 and 9th holes have water all the way down the right side. If you are a slicer prepare for the worse. The par 4 7th is a slight dogleg right. Fairway bunkers on each side and the green is well protected as well. The par 5 8th is dogleg left with an extremely well protected green. The long par 4 9th is the number one handicap hole with water and bunkers protecting the green.
The first 4 holes on the back (west) are standard Florida holes. The 14th (5th west) is very tight. Slight dogleg right with water left and bunkers right. Our group had a difficult time holding this green. The last four holes make this course. Opposite of the east, water is on the left side coming in. Hookers beware. The West 6th is a long par 3 over water with bunker left, right and behind the redan green. A demanding, but fun golf hole. I also liked the par 4 7th. A forced carry over water with trees on both the left and right creating an hourglass affect. If successful of the tee you will have a really pretty approach to a slightly elevated green with four bunkers surrounding it. The par 4 8th bears slightly left and makes you ask the question, “How hungry am I?” Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. The par 5 9th is a good risk reward finishing hole.
Lots of water and bunkers. I would recommend the Ponte Vedra Inn instead.
A fine set of par 3s, interesting enough green complexes and plenty of water to challenge the player on both tee shots and approaches. Courses built for riding, with some long drives from green to tee are not among my favorites.