By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
When you think of TPC Sawgrass, images of the 17th hole’s island green are enhanced only by the sound of Gary Koch’s voice exclaiming, “Better than most…Better than most!” Watching Tiger’s improbable putt find the bottom of the cup is one of so many wonderful memories golf fans have of this venue and the “Fifth Major” that it hosts each year. THE PLAYERS Championship boasts the most competitive field of the PGA TOUR season and every March, when the best golfers in the world arrive in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, they never seem to disappoint us.
However, with 51 other weeks in the year, this facility has a lot more to offer than what you see on NBC each spring. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020, TPC Sawgrass is unique, in that its tee sheet consists of public golfers, resort guests, and club members. To discuss the amenities these everyday golfers can enjoy, I sat down with Matt Borocz, PGA Assistant General Manager, and Brian Riddle, PGA Head Golf Professional, two members of an all-star team of PGA Professionals that includes General Manager, Derek Sprague, a Past President of the PGA of America. These individuals know how to cater to the needs of a diverse clientele.
TPC Sawgrass offers 36 holes of championship golf, a practice facility, resort hotel, award-winning food and beverage service, and performance center. On any other property, the Dye’s Valley Course could be the premier attraction of the golf facility. This Pete Dye design has hosted Web.com Tour (now Korn Ferry Tour) events, including its Tour Championship from 2013-2015, and was recently ranked 21st in Golfweek’s “Best Courses You Can Play” in Florida rankings. THE PLAYERS Stadium Course is a perennial favorite among golf fans and its par-three 17th is perhaps the most famous hole in golf.
With the popularity of these two courses, TPC Sawgrass hosts over 250 outings each year, ranging from 16-player buddy-trips to huge corporate and charitable outings. According to Borocz, the Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Spa is located “right here on the property,” and welcomes guests from across the country and around the world. Stay and Play packages are available through the resort, as well as the golf facility’s internal team, TPC Vacations.
When on site, guests can browse The Golf Shop at TPC Sawgrass to satisfy all their retail needs. The 2019 Association of Golf Merchandisers (AGM) Platinum Award Golf Shop offers men’s and women’s apparel, outerwear, and headwear with the TPC Sawgrass and THE PLAYERS logos proudly displayed.
TPC Sawgrass offers a practice range and short game area for golfers to hone their skills and warm up for their round. However, visitors may have to share that space with any of the 40 or more TOUR professionals who utilize the practice grounds on a regular basis. These individuals represent the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Korn Ferry Tour, Mackenzie Tour – Canada, and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica.
The facility offers high-level golf instruction though the PGA TOUR’s Performance Center at TPC Sawgrass. Led by world-renowned instructor, Todd Anderson, and his team of professionals, instruction includes programs for juniors, short game clinics, and customizable programs that are specifically geared towards the needs of the individual or group of students. The Performance Center boasts five PGA Professional Instructors, a TPI-Certified fitness specialist, and a Golf Digest Top-100 club fitter.
According to its website, “The Performance Center uses leading-edge technology to enhance your instruction experience, including BODITRAK, GCQuad Foresight Sports, SAM PuttLab, and more. Combined with our customized club fitting and fitness program, we take a holistic approach to developing your golf game.” Now that’s the complete package.
The responsibility of hosting THE PLAYERS Championship is great, as PGA TOUR officials are on site as early as October and organizational meetings occur year-round. Grandstand construction begins six months in advance and The Stadium Course closes three weeks before the event, with the Dye’s Valley Course shutting down the week of the championship.
TPC Sawgrass is one of those facilities that all golfers think they know, as defined by a picture or moment in time – it is, in fact, a full-service golf facility that can improve your game, create memories, and show you the time of your life. Just save a few golf balls for the 17th hole.
For more information on TPC Sawgrass, visit https://tpc.com/sawgrass/.