The integrity of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass brings out a myriad of differing opinions ranging from a great hole at a pivotal time in the tournament to “the worst hole in golf,” as Brandel Chamblee had referred to it previously.
While Chamblee admits that he’s come around on the hole somewhat, he and new Live From analyst Paul McGinley got into a lively debate over the merits of the hole during a week in which weather played a major role in the proceedings, especially when play resumed on Saturday.
With players dealing with gusts upwards of 30 MPH, the 17th hole proved to be massively entertaining for golf fans, but wildly frustrating for the players. Over the course of some 6+ hours of play, 29 balls found a watery grave including those struck by some of the biggest names in the game, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka among them.
That evening, from Golf Channel’s Live From desk, Chamblee lamented the hole’s “major design flaw.”
- “Some players ended up in the water through no fault of their own,” Chamblee argued. “You can choose right, hit right and make an eight. I would argue that for the premier event of the PGA Tour – I call it a major championship – it is far too capricious an element to have. Great water holes are meant to tempt not torture.”
McGinley proved to be a worthy adversary to Chamblee on the set, arguing instead that the elements put an even higher premium on skill and execution.
- “This is not a particularly intimidating hole. You have a huge green here, some 4,000 square feet, and it’s only 135 yards,” McGinley said. “Luck is a huge element in professional golf and this was a freak day. We have to accept a freak day. All you can do is be in a state of mind to execute the shot and accept the consequences. If it happens to go in the water, it goes in the water.”
So who’s right?
It’s all a matter of opinion, but one thing is not up for debate: the PGA Tour is meant to be an entertainment product, and the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass provides entertainment.
Whether it’s down the stretch of the event, or in a rain-delayed second round that brings in gale force winds, the best players in the world need to step up to the tee and pick a club somewhere between 6-iron and wedge and find dry land.