110 TPC Blvd,
Ponte Vedra Beach,
Florida (FL) 32082,
- +1 904 273 3230
5 miles S of Jacksonville Beach
Welcome book in advance
Much has been written about the Stadium course at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass and we all know about the signature hole, the notorious and infamous 17th. Sufficient has been written about this hole to rival Tolstoy’s War and Peace. In Pete Dye’s original design, the 17th green was not an island, it was planned to have water only on the right hand side. Alice Dye had a different idea and the result is perhaps the most well-known and most photographed hole in American.
Sawgrass started out in life as a swamp, as did most of the Florida Panhandle, but this did not deter Deane Beman who purchased the 400-acre site for the princely sum of $1 in 1978. Three years later, after performing minor miracles with drainage works, the Stadium course opened for play and it’s one of Pete Dye’s crackers.
Unfortunately, most people leave Sawgrass with water on the brain and either a positive or negative memory of the 17th hole (depending on how many balls were dumped into the drink). But this is really a course for the strategist with a selection of brilliant holes – including the magnificent strategic par five 11th which requires an accurate drive down the right in order to avoid a beach on the left, which is roughly the size of Daytona. Big hitters may elect to go for the green in two but it’s a risky option with the lateral water hazard cutting its way diagonally across the front and then off to the right of the green.
The 16th heralds the start of a brilliant closing sequence with another reachable par five but again it’s fraught with water danger. Then there’s the infamous 17th and the corking 18th a par four that doglegs its way around a lake.
Immediately after the Players Championship event in 2016, a range of improvements were made to the course by Steve Wenzloff, in-house designer for the PGA Tour. Foremost of these alterations was the redesign of the par four 12th, the most significant hole renovation since the Stadium course opened.
Gone is the old, boring 358-yard, drive-and-pitch par four, replaced by an exciting, drivable 302-yard hole. The old par four was short and in reach for most of the big hitting pros but few would ever go for the green from the tee because the penalty for missing the target was so severe.
The old doglegged fairway has now been removed, along with the severe greenside mounding and steep drop-offs, replaced by a straightforward fairway which leads to a large, rectangular-shaped, right-to-left sloping green. There’s also subtle mounding to the right of the putting surface that can easily push a tee shot further right or left than intended.
A new lake sits to the left of the green and a long waste bunker needs to be carried, around 255 yards from the tee, with pot bunkers positioned to the right of the putting surface. For those who choose to layup, sound risk/reward judgment is still called for and a tee shot to the left side of the fairway is the one offering the best angle into the green.