20 Interesting Facts About TPC Sawgrass & The Players Championship That Most Golf Fans Don’t Know

20 Interesting Facts About TPC Sawgrass & The Players Championship That Most Golf Fans Don’t Know

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship, is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world. While many fans are familiar with the famous 17th island green, there’s much more to discover about this legendary venue and the tournament it hosts.

In this article, we’ll unveil 20 fascinating facts that even the most ardent golf enthusiasts may not know about TPC Sawgrass and The Players Championship.

The Players Before Sawgrass


The Players Championship, conceived by PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, began in 1974 at Atlanta Country Club. It moved to Colonial Country Club in Texas in 1975 and Inverrary Country Club in Florida in 1976. Since 1977, it has been played in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, moving to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in 1982.

TPC Sawgrass Was Purchased For $1


PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman acquired the 415-acre heavily-wooded swamp land for TPC Sawgrass for just $1. The site’s challenging terrain, inhabited by deer, alligators, wild boar, and deadly snakes, made construction an adventure. Course designer Pete Dye and his team encountered numerous obstacles, including a 5-foot water moccasin and an estimated 70 large rattlesnakes during the building process.

Sketches On Placemats & Napkins


TPC Sawgrass’ clubhouse displays mementos from its early days, including a $1 check dated Feb. 1, 1979, and a placemat featuring Pete Dye’s first course sketches. Building a unique course was crucial to establish The Players Championship’s identity and prestige. Dye, known for his creative genius and improvisation, submitted extensive plans but often deviated from them during construction.

Goats Were The First Groundskeepers


Pete Dye used an unconventional workforce while building TPC Sawgrass: goats. The grounds crew led the goats around the property, allowing them to clear 80% of the brush within eight months. However, the goats caused some complications, such as kicking over fences, sleeping under the clubhouse’s porte-cochere, climbing on the roof, and even wandering into the grill room.

The Invention Of Stadium Golf


Stadium golf is an architecture philosophy designed with the spectator in mind. It features large mounds for unobstructed views and holes running parallel to each other, creating hubs of activity. PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman, who struggled to see the action at the Phoenix Open, envisioned this concept. TPC Sawgrass was built on flat ground, using excavated soil from water hazards to create spectator mounds.

Alice Dye Had The Idea For The Island Green


The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, originally designed as a peninsula green, became an island due to sand excavation. Alice Dye suggested creating a bulkhead and adding sand and dirt to form the iconic island green. Despite its short length, the 17th is one of golf’s most intimidating holes, nestled between the par-5 16th and challenging 18th, encouraging dramatic finishes.

No Tee Time Draw Bias At Sawgrass


The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was designed to be a fair test that doesn’t favor any particular style of play. The first and 10th holes are similar par 4s, while the second and 11th are reachable par 5s, each requiring specific shot shapes. The holes run in opposite directions to ensure that wind conditions don’t disadvantage players starting on either side.

Unique Par-3s, S-Shaped Par-4s and Risk-Reward Par-5s


TPC Sawgrass challenges players with a variety of shot requirements. The par 4s bend in both directions, demanding fades and draws off the tee. The four par 3s range from the short, risky 17th to the lengthy 8th. The par 5s offer varying degrees of risk and reward, while the par 4s span from 302 to 481 yards, suiting no particular style of play.

The Splash Heard Round The Golf World

(Facebook/The Players Championship)

In 1982, Jerry Pate celebrated his victory at the inaugural TPC Sawgrass by pushing Commissioner Deane Beman and course designer Pete Dye into the lake on the 18th hole, followed by his own dive. This splash heard around the golf world instantly made the tournament and course famous, elevating The Players to major status in the eyes of legendary writer Dan Jenkins.

All Kinds Of Wildlife Inhabits TPC Sawgrass


The TPC Sawgrass course has seen an incredible variety of wildlife over the years, from majestic bald eagles and owls to dangerous alligators, snakes, and even an enormous wild boar. The course’s unique location amid Florida swamps and forests has created a habitat that attracts a diverse array of animals. As the top players compete in The Players Championship, they’ll need to watch out for more than just water hazards and tricky greens – the resident animals of TPC Sawgrass are always ready to make an unexpected appearance on the fairways.

Sawgrass Doesn’t Favor Any Type Of Player

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Only five players have won multiple times at TPC Sawgrass: Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Steve Elkington, and Hal Sutton, all major champions. The course’s democratic nature is evident in the fact that these two-time winners had to wait an average of 11.6 years between victories, with no one winning more than twice on the Stadium Course.

Between March And May

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Since The Players Championship returned to March in 2019 after 12 years in May, scoring has become more varied. While May winners consistently shot between 11 and 15 under par, March winning scores have ranged from 3 to 24 under. The unpredictable weather, overseeded rough, and changing wind directions in March make the course play differently than its May counterpart.

A Lot Of Manpower Is Needed To Get The Course Ready

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Jeff Plotts, TPC Sawgrass Director of Golf Course Operations, manages a team of 105 full-time agronomy employees responsible for maintaining both THE PLAYERS Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course. During tournament week, the agronomy staff will collectively work an impressive 12,000 hours to ensure the courses are in top condition for the prestigious event.

The Players Has A Massive Charitable Footprint

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Players Championship has supported over 300 nonprofits in Northeast Florida counties over the past 50 years, focusing on youth services, education, health, and military support. As part of the PGA Tour and TPC Network, TPC Sawgrass has embraced the philanthropic commitment to give back to deserving organizations. In 2018, The Players generated $9 million for local charities, surpassing $100 million in total charitable giving since 1977.

The Purse Of The Players Championship Has Grown Exponentially

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Players Championship, often considered the unofficial fifth major, celebrates its 50th edition at TPC Sawgrass from March 14-17. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler, fresh off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, aims to secure the increased top prize of $4,500,000 from the tournament’s boosted $25 million purse.

The 2020 Players Was Canceled After One Round

(AP Photo/John Amis)

The 2020 Players Championship was canceled after the first round due to the rapidly escalating COVID-19 situation. Despite initial plans to continue without spectators, the PGA Tour ultimately decided to suspend the tournament and several upcoming events. The cancellation signaled the beginning of a widespread shutdown in professional golf, with majors postponed and tours not resuming until several months later.

Aces Are Hard To Come By On The 17th Hole


Despite three holes-in-one at the 2023 Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass’s 17th hole remains a daunting challenge. From 2000-2016, only three aces were recorded out of 7,400 attempts. Last year’s trio of aces by Alex Smalley, Hayden Buckley, and Aaron Rai defy the odds, with Smalley’s being the first final-round ace since 1997. The island green’s slopes and hazards make it a formidable test for even the world’s best golfers.

Nearly 50 Balls Find The Water On 17 Each Year

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass has claimed 983 balls during The Players Championship since 2003, averaging 49.15 per year. The last three tournaments have seen above-average figures, with 58 balls lost in 2023 alone. Despite criticism from some players, the iconic hole remains a daunting challenge, with the potential to derail even the best golfers’ rounds in an instant.

The Players Has A Signature Drink – The Sawgrass Splash

(Courtesy Photo)

The ‘Sawgrass Splash,’ TPC Sawgrass’s signature cocktail, combines Ketel One orange-flavored vodka, fresh Florida orange juice, lemonade, and lime juice. Shaken and topped with club soda and an orange slice, this refreshing drink allows fans to enjoy a taste of The Players Championship experience from home. The popular cocktail is available year-round at TPC Sawgrass.

The Price To Play TPC Sawgrass Is Going Up


TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship, now charges up to $900 for a morning tee time during peak season. Despite listing starting rates of $650, availability is limited, with only a few discounted times on Thanksgiving morning. The rates include green fees, cart fees, forecaddie base rate, and range balls, with gratuity for the forecaddie not included.