TPC Sawgrass/ THE PLAYERS Championship
Book A Stay And Play
By Noel Valentine
As if the climate and natural beauty weren’t enough, each May fans flock to the Florida sun for a chance to catch a glimpse of golf’s most illustrious champions during THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass (The Players Club) in what is one of the most anticipated tournaments on the PGA TOUR calendar, boasting not only the strongest field but also the biggest purse. This event, slated for May 10-15, showcases excitement and intensity, not to mention the beauty of one of the most recognized courses in the world. The tournament brings the game’s top competitors to this superior, demanding course and offers the fans an experience unlike any other anywhere at any course in the world. The result is one of the most dynamic and compelling events in all of golf. When you fly into Jacksonville, the destination is only a short half-hour away. Accommodations are convenient, too, at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa.
HISTORY OF TPC SAWGRASS
What began as a dream of then-PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman to create a special and unique host site for THE PLAYERS Championship, TPC Sawgrass opened in 1980 and has since ranked among the top courses in the country. The par-3 17th — with its world-famous island green — is the most photographed hole in golf.
The creation of TPC Sawgrass as host to THE PLAYERS was based on several unique concepts. Primarily, it would be the permanent home of THE PLAYERS, and it would be owned by the PGA TOUR players. Additionally, the course and surrounding areas would be built with spectators in mind. It would be the first true “Stadium Course,” designed and built to improve the overall on-site fan experience. And finally, prior to the construction of the TPC, nearly all of the great tournaments were played at private clubs where the average fan rarely had a chance to play. The TPC would be a course of great design and character that would be accessible to all golf fans — one that would favor no particular player or style of play.
Golf course architect Pete Dye made an extensive effort to design a balanced golf course. There had to be a selection of short, medium and long holes within the categories of par-3s, par-4s and par-5s. There had to be both right and left doglegs. The course routing was laid out so no two consecutive holes ever played in the same direction. With this concept, wind direction would have a more balanced influence on the field of players.
For the first time, spectator viewing was given full consideration in the design and layout of a golf course. Lakes were created not only for strategic play of a hole, but also for fill that was needed to create the contours of play and the first “stadium” mounding. Key locations were designated around the 1st and 10th tees and at the 9th, 16th, 17th and 18th greens, where strategic viewing areas were built. For the first time in golf, thousands of spectators would have unobstructed views of tournament play, similar to being in a baseball or football stadium.
The inaugural PLAYERS Championship was held at TPC Sawgrass in 1982 — leaving most of the true players wide-eyed with wonder. The original design was met with mixed reactions, many of them highly critical. Adding to the controversy was the fact that many of the day’s top players didn’t make the cut — including Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Since then, many recognizable names have hoisted THE PLAYERS trophy, including Davis Love III, Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and two-time champion Tiger Woods.
The Mediterranean Revival-style, 77,000-square-foot clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass is a majestic centerpiece for the club, providing tour-standard hospitality to members and guests alike. Blending elegant, old world charm with modern, upscale amenities, the clubhouse features a variety of dining options, an expansive gallery, beautifully appointed banquet and meeting spaces and a world-class golf shop. The clubhouse is open for the public to enjoy and discover, with storyteller docents on hand to help every guest explore the club’s wide array of PGA TOUR memorabilia, including the magnificent “Tunnel of Champions” entryway.
The graceful Clubhouse and surrounding grounds are designed to create a spectacular setting for not only golf, but for special events and weddings, whether intimate or grand, with full service planning, catering and personnel committed to providing unmatched service and attention. Plus, guests can bask in the sun at the ocean-side cabanas, set up golf clinics at the TOUR Academy or get pampered at the 25,000-square-foot Spa at Sawgrass.
A range of membership options is available. They provide privileges and benefits including access to the courses, member occasions by invitation, discounts at the TOUR Academy/Performance Lab and The Golf Shop and access to the members-only restaurant Traditions. Different levels of membership, too, allow customizable preferences and upgrades.
Almost 30 years after Deane Beman first set out to bring his dream to life, THE PLAYERS’ club stands as not only one of the strongest fields in tournament golf, but also as one of the select, must-play courses for fans across the world. As well, all of the drama and history, combined with a setting unequalled in golf, creates an electrifying atmosphere that makes THE PLAYERS a must-see, must-attend event.
Visit tpc.com/sawgrass-vacations to join the fun anytime. To watch the game’s best players take on Golf’s Greatest Stadium in May, visit theplayerstravel.com for tickets and travel packages.