Jacksonville residents and national golf fans alike annually join together in May and enjoy one of the most unique golf courses on the PGA TOUR: THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Built in 1982 and designed by Pete Dye, the Stadium Course was created to provide easier access and viewing for fans. People come from all over to view favorites like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott take on the course, and each other. But how do the players feel about the venue?
“There is a way you’re supposed to play this golf course. Pete Dye did a great job of telling you where you need to hit it on every hole and you need to do a good job of doing that and miss it in spots where can you manage. It’s a demanding golf course,” Brandt Snedeker said.
Many players agree the course is a challenge because it was designed to fit the overall fan viewing experience.
“It gets tough around the lake with everyone watching and the wind’s swirling. Under the circumstances and the pressure, the 17th green shrinks a bit,” said Rickie Fowler.
In geographically flat Florida, the course took immense planning to make it an excellent multi-layer viewing experience. The original land to construct the golf course consisted of 415 acres and was sold for $1 in an effort ensure the PGA TOUR established its headquarters in Ponte Vedra and moved THE PLAYERS to Ponte Vedra on a permanent basis.
“It doesn’t favor any one style of play. It doesn’t favor a long hitter or a short hitter. It really just favors somebody who ends up playing well,” Phil Mickelson said, a champion in 2007.
Current PLAYERS champ, Tiger Woods, has also stated in the past the desire of every PGA TOUR player is to win at Sawgrass. “This is the best field that we have. You’ve got to have all facets of your game going here, ” said Woods.
There’s no denying the fan experience at THE PLAYERS is unreal. But even the pro’s get star struck from time to time just walking the grounds.
“What strikes me is walking through the tunnel of champions. Every player does it. I can’t help but stop and gaze at all the photos going through the tunnel, and to think I’m going to be a part of that with Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd and Phil Mickelson and David Duval and Tiger Woods. It’s all the best of the best,” 2012 champion Matt Kuchar said.
The Stadium Course has been nationally ranked No. 1 as the “best course you can play in Florida” by Golfweek and remains one of the top courses in the world to both witness and play golf.