Tour the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass by Pete Dye, the home of the PGA Tour

An aerial of the famous theater that is the 16th green and 17th hole at the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. (Getty Images)
Recent renovations on the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass include a new risk-reward drivable par 4, the 12th hole. (Courtesy of the PGA Tour)
The opening hole on the PLAYERS Stadium is a not-so-easy par 4. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
The par-4 4th hole is short but a very difficult approach shot to a small green. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor)
Groups can take caddies and feel like the pros at TPC Sawgrass and other venues that host pro events. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
The TPC Sawgrass clubhouse, entirely rebuilt in 2006, was inspired by the Ponce De Leon hotel, built by Henry Flagler in downtown St. Augustine. (Getty Images. )
There are no breather holes on the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The par-5 11th, while a birdie opportunity, is full of trouble. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
The par-5 2nd hole may be one of the better scoring opportunities on the course, particularly for amateur players. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
The par-3 3rd hole on the Stadium Course features trouble, especially to the left of the green. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
You'll have to swing boldly in order to finish with a par (or better) on the watery 18th hole on the Stadium. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
The 9th hole of the Stadium Course is perhaps the most tactical on the course, a snaking par 5. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor)
Players have plenty of tempting pins to look at during a round on the Stadium, including this sucker pin on the 16th. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
The 8th hole is the longest of the par 3s at TPC Sawgrass. That isn't to say it isn't well protected. (Chris Condon/PGA Tour)
As you might expect, the practice facility at TPC Sawgrass is a marvel in its own right. (Chris Condon/Getty Images)
The 6th hole is one of the narrower par 4s on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. (Chris Condon/PGA Tour)
The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is full of high drama, climaxed by the theater at nos. 16 and 17. (Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor)
Golfers have the 17th hole in the back of their mind the entire round on the Stadium Course. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Bad round? Find the barber's chair in the clubhouse locker room, which is where tour players go to vent their frustrations. (Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor)
At TPC Sawgrass, golfers can have lunch or dinner at NINETEEN, which overlooks the Stadium Course. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
Here's the new-look par 4 sixth on the PLAYERS Stadium Course, which now features a lake between the sixth and seventh holes. (Courtesy of TPC Network)
On the other side of the new pond is the par-4 seventh hole at the TPC Sawgrass PLAYERS Stadium Course. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor)
One of the problems in going for the par-5 16th at the TPC Sawgrass PLAYERS Stadium Course in two is this tree in the middle of a greenside bunker. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor)

The PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic designs in the game. Perhaps no other golf course outside Augusta National receives as many eyeballs year in and year out. This breakthrough Pete Dye creation, with assistance from his wife, Alice, built out of the dense swamps in north Florida south of Jacksonville, has become one of the greatest venues in championship golf.

TPC was the brainchild of then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, who had a vision for a new home for the PGA Tour as well as a stadium-style golf course to stage their prized PLAYERS Championship. Pete Dye was commissioned with the task, and in 1981 delivered a design that wasn't exactly loved by the pros. In 1983, prior to the second staging of the PLAYERS at TPC, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw were among the pros who signed a petition demanding changes to the course.

It hasn't softened at all since, but the Stadium has certainly changed over the years. For a period, the mounding on the outside of holes in certain areas were framed into grassy bleachers. That proved too difficult to maintain, so they were shaped back into more natural-looking mounds. One of the great benefits about hosting the PLAYERS on the same course every year is that each year, the tournament staff can make adjustments based on spectator tendencies.


There is a new wrinkle for the 2017 PLAYERS: The par-4 12th hole was redesigned to play as a potentially drivable par 4. Drivable par 4s aren't always commonplace on Dye tournament designs, but he signed off on the change and there should be more intrigue to this stretch of holes.

The finishing stretch here, beginning with the par-5 16th hole, is undoubtedly among the best in the game. Once players get about halfway down the 16th fairway, the trees on the right side stop and the pond that makes up the 17th hole amphitheater is in full view, and the tens of thousands of excited fans along with it.

The island green 17th hole has seen plenty of drama in its day. In 1998, a seagull picked up Steve Lowery's ball and flew away with it before dropping it in the water. Fred Couples' hole-out for a '3' in 1999 after hitting his tee shot into the water and re-teeing is also one of the golfers' most memorable moments. Tiger Woods' snaking putt, deemed "better than most" by Gary Koch in the TV tower, in the third round of the 2001 PLAYERS, which he would go on to win. Sergio Garcia found the water in the 2013 during a final-round duel with Woods, but Len Mattiace in 1998 made a gut-wrenching 8 to end his improbable chances of winning the championship. 20 top memorable moments at The PLAYERS Championship

Because the Stadium course was purpose-built to host the event, galleries can swell to nearly 40,000 per day, or about 170,000 for the week. That number is usually second to only TPC Scottsdale's Waste Management Phoenix Open.

In 2006, the clubhouse was bulldozed and entirely rebuilt within a year's time. The 77-000-square-foot structure was built to resemble the Ponce De Leon Hotel in downtown St. Augustine, built by Henry Flagler. Even if you can't afford the green fee to play the Stadium course, anyone is welcome to come tour the clubhouse. Volunteers are present at all times to provide tours of the memorabilia adoring its walls. You can also have a meal in 19, which overlooks the course. Chances are, you'll see familiar faces in the clubhouse or on the driving range. Not only is the headquarters of the PGA Tour just down the road, but several dozen Florida-based PGA Tour professionals live in or nearby and make TPC their home club.

Peak season green fees to play the Stadium course can swell to $549 in the peak season. Caddies are required if you want to walk, and forecaddies are offered if you take a cart. The Dye's Valley course was added in 1987 and is a championship test in its own right, hosting events among others. The easiest way to experience at TPC Sawgrass is with a Stay-and-play Florida golf package at the Sawgrass Marriott, which is next door and connected by a resort shuttle or walking path. More hotels can be found in historic St. Augustine, one of the more historic vacations you can take in the state. In addition to historic attractions like the Fountain of Youth and the old town, including the World Golf Village, home to two 18-hole courses and the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Video: Ginella's Journeys heads to Florida's TPC Sawgrass

May 05, 2017

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Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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