The Fantastic Ultimate Hero Shot


TPC Sawgrass:

The Ultimate Florida Bucket List Golf Experience.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


Jacksonville typically doesn't carry the notoriety of some of the other major cities in Florida. Tucked in the northeastern corner of the state, lining the banks of the St. John's River, the city doesn't necessarily jump to the tongue when discussing a must visit locale in the Sunshine State. That is unless you are looking to cross off one of golf's truly incredible bucket list experiences.


Each spring the game's best come to Ponte Vedra Beach along the Atlantic coast to challenge for the Player's Championship. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is the drawing card for a stellar cast of international golfers looking to be crowned champion of what many consider the fifth major of the year. The grand vision of former PGA Tour Commissioner  Deane Beman, this former piece of coastal swamp lands is now home to one of the most famous courses on the planet. Combined with the Dye, Bobby Weed and Jerry Pate compilation, Dye's Valley Course, TPC Sawgrass offers a remarkable destination golf opportunity.


Legendary architect Pete Dye was contracted to design and build a golf experience never before seen. The TPC Sawgrass facility opened in 1982 to great fanfare and gave birth to the TPC brand that now encompasses more than 30 private and public facilities throughout the world. That year's Player's Championship made a big splash bringing a truly spectator friendly golf experience to attendees and television viewers alike. Combined with the induction ceremony for the nearby World Golf Hall of Fame each year, the tournament has become both a player’s and golf fan favorite.


The Challenging Finishing Hole


The course is best known for the infamous island green but the list of champions that have been crowned since the inaugural event at Sawgrass in 1982 is equally noteworthy. With the likes of Couples, Norman, Faldo and more recently Woods, Mickleson, Garcia and even Canadian Stephen Ames having celebrated success at The Player's, few tour events are more revered than the early spring date where Mr. Dye's genius is on full display. Watching the thrilling shot making and seeing the spectacular sights on TV is one thing, getting a chance to walk the short grass in the same footsteps as the tour greats is what sets TPC Sawgrass apart.


The Stay: The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa is the stay and play partner for access to this bucket list experience. Backing onto the 13th hole of the Stadium Course, the hotel provides cart shuttle service to the first tee for your rounds. With more than 500 rooms and suites, the hotel has an accommodation option for every need. The Great Room Lobby is the centerpiece of the massive complex. The concourse provides views of the tranquil ponds, pathways and outdoor pools, while also giving a glimpse of the 13th hole in the distance. A floating island practice green, reminiscent of the 17th, awaits your attempt to test your skill from the edge of Alice and Pete's Pub. Located on the ground floor this casual golf themed lounge offers a tradition pub-style menu with a laid-back sports bar feel. The fine dining experience at Vernon's provides a farm to table upscale menu.The resort has a full service spa while an added bonus for resort guests is gaining access to the nearby private beachfront Cabana Beach Club. Graced with 26 miles of sandy beach, an outdoor pool, fire pit, and casual dining at Sharky's Snack Bar, a day at the beach can only be topped by the spectacular golf.


The Play: TPC Sawgrass has a significance in golf like few other facilities can boast. Typically thought of as the playground for the tour's best to compete, it is more than just The Stadium Course and its famous set of finishing holes.  The original TPC facility is home to 36 holes of world-class golf, with Dye's Valley, the lesser known of the courses, providing a dynamic duo for the visiting golfer.


Dye's Valley: Built as a compliment to its big sister The Stadium, Dye's Valley provides a very different playing experience. The course is routed over a surprisingly rolling piece of land. Similar in design characteristics, Dye's Valley is played through tighter corridors with considerably more elevation change.  Designed with fewer bunkers there is a greater sense of playability, as the fairways are more accessible. Fewer bunkers doesn't mean there is a similar reduction in water holes. Water is visible on every hole of the Valley, with only a couple being void of water being in play for any reasonably struck shot.


A trio of holes in the middle of the front side are a stretch with great potential to be of the round-wrecker variety. Hole 4 is a sharp dogleg left design with water guarding the inside of the hole all the way to the green. The 5th is the course's most demanding short hole, requiring a mid iron to find the buttress wrapped green jutting out into a pond. The par 4, 6th plays as the hardest hole on the routing.  A gentle dogleg right hole, the more than 440 yards from the tips must contend with water the entire length of the hole. A finishing trio starting with back-to-back par 5's provides a formidable final challenge and leaves a lasting impression of a special place.


The Stadium: Pete and wife Alice Dye are legendary in the field of course architecture. One of their signature stamps on the golf world is the infamous Stadium Course. Since 1982 this masterpiece has played host to what many consider the best field in golf. The course is all things Dye, putting his design characteristics of bold contours from tee to green, aggressively sloped green complexes and imaginative bunkering all on display. The round begins in the shadows of the spectacular clubhouse and the plaques paying tribute to past Players Champions.


The complexity of the design lies with Dye's attention to angles and line of play. Every hole has multiple routes to par, however some way more forgiving than others. Many holes have long trench-style bunkers running from tee to green that are nasty even if it is just to hit it sideways and back in play. No three hole stretch gets more attention than the trio of finishing holes. All of them test every aspect of your game, none more so than the mental side of golf. Intimidation, challenge, intrigue and imagination. Each has a water lining the hole, a buttress-walled green and all the history of championships won or lost. As a culmination of a round, I haven't met a trio of holes with this level of design and mystique; and the 15 previous certainly make quite a lead-up to this grand finale.   






























Dye's Valley Course: Par 72

Tees Yards Rating Slope
White (M)
White (L)
Green (M)
Green (L)






The Remarkable Par 5 16th




Stadium Course: Par 72

Tees Yards Rating Slope
White (M)
White (L)
Green (M)
Green (L)





The Daunting 11th








TPC Sawgrass

110 Championship Way,

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida