A shrine to golf fans
Construction of No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Circa 1980. (Photo by PGA TOUR)
Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2014. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was built with a very particular goal in mind -- build a course from the ground up with the spectators in mind.
There are tens of thousands of golf courses around the globe for people to play at their disposal -- from country clubs along the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean to the rolling hills of courses in the Northeast. But despite the wide variety of fantastic venues to choose from, golf fans still make it a priority to visit THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Deane Beman is credited with the introduction of the unique concept, and with the help of course architect Pete Dye, the two constructed a course that is now known by millions of golfers and fans from around the world. It was built to be the first true “stadium course” designed to enhance the experience of the spectator and improve the overall fan experience. Locations were selected where large, sloping mounds would be built to give spectators an unobstructed view of play, similar to being in a stadium.
Deane Beman’s unique concept, along with the expertise of course architect Pete Dye, are the reason why TPC Sawgrass exists and people travel from around the globe just for the chance to play it.
The permanent home of THE PLAYERS was also constructed at a time when nearly all of the PGA TOUR tournaments were played at private courses. TPC Sawgrass was built to be one of the few courses open to the public and playable by anyone.
Many fans know of TPC Sawgrass because of its famous 17th hole. The Stadium Course’s penultimate hole features an island green that is one of the most photographed holes in all of golf.
The 132-yard par-3 17th hole is not a long hole by any means. However, add in the water surrounding the hole and the tee shot on No. 17 gives even the world’s best golfers a nerve-wracking experience. For a hole so famous, it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t in the courses original design plans.
During course construction, lakes were dug as playing hazards and to create the stadium-like mounds for spectators. One such lake was a small pond dug near the 17th green. As crews continued to dig, a sand base was found in the area, giving workers a valuable tool to help build the stadium’s “seating.” Construction crews continued to dig around the 17th green until it was all but surrounded by water. Dye credits his wife Alice with the idea for the island green. He said she came to the construction site one day and brought up the idea to make the green an island.
Now, more than 30 years later, what started as an excavation site has turned into one of the most famous stadiums in all of sports.