I first played this course in April 2018 on my way to the Masters, on a very cold afternoon and very windy. I had landed in Miami and drove with no stop directly to first tee. The course had not had Rye Grass over seeding as it had this year for The Players but it was in very good shape.
This time the experience and the 2 rounds were completely different. We were staying at near by Sawgrass Marriott 2 mins from the courses, our golf bags were there all week, arriving we had our carts ready and the pre round time was very easy, even hosting 32 golfers on my own.
Four sunny days for all rounds and with some wind which made it even more challenging. I played one great round the first one and on the second, when I felt the under par round was close the course beat me like a beginner. The Stadiun Course is like that, it might not look very tough but it really is, on a good day you may score but in a bad striking day the score can and will be high because you will miss fairways, greens are small and playing around them is as tough as a course can get. Even playing a bad round can be fun, because you will see the challenge in full throttle. Upto 14 the round could be saved, but then one missed shot per hole made it 3 consecutive doubles, just one missed shot per hole. That is The Stadium Course.
It was maybe in the best condition you can see it with good climate, the rye grass still there and firm conditions, it can’t get better. Of course big stars are 16-17-18 that all of us will have fresh in our memories, but there are some other great holes there:
- Par 4 4th is my favourite after the last three, a short 4 with an extremely challenging green. An accurate tee shot will not be enough, you need to be even sharper with the second one.
- Par 5 9th is a 3 shot hole for everybdy. I went for it, landed on the right car path and ended 60yds to the right of the very small green. Was able to make a good par, but a wiser decision is to lay up.
- I really like 11th, my single birdie on the very bad second round, it gives you options and there is more than one way to play it. Greediness will punish you, if tee shot is not long enough and on the fairway, lay up. You will have a chance of birdie.
- 12th is very good, better than it used to be in terms of risk/reward but not sure if a nicer hole now.
It is not only playing the course, hanging around the Club House for 4 days, being able to meet Greg Norman right there, diving into Tournament’s History, buying staff on the massive ProShop and the Class A service they deliver it is just great.
The Stadium course is inside a select group of Tour Courses which you can play just calling and booking, but the cost will be high. Is it worth the price? Absolutely. I put it in the Pebble, #2, Whistling Straits, Blue Monster league of greats you can play. Maybe not as nice as Pebble or Straits, but the challenge to your game is the highest you can expect. And once you play it you will figure out how good the Tour Pros are!
Date: June 26, 2019