TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course Review

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The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous golf courses.  That fame is what comes along with hosting the “5th Major” every year with one of the top fields on the PGA Tour.  Any serious golf fan can rattle off a list of famous shots played there, and it’s a fixture on every golfer’s bucket list.

I was lucky enough to be invited to #BBBatTPC this past January at Sawgrass.  Allow me to give you an inside look at one of golf’s most noteworthy venues.

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Practice Facility

When a guy named Vijay Singh, who can out-practice just about anyone, makes his home at your practice facility, you know you have a good thing going.  The practice area at TPC Sawgrass is simply world class.  The range is enormous, capable of accommodating dozens of golfers.  Additionally, there’s ample short game and putting space.

I’d recommend that you take full advantage of this area before you play.  The Stadium Course is going to demand your best.

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Amenities  & Customer Service

This is the untold story of TPC Sawgrass.

Everyone knows the Stadium Course, and for good reason, but they don’t realize that the 77,000-square foot clubhouse is home to some of the best dining in Florida.  What’s more, you don’t have to be a member to enjoy it…you don’t even need to play golf!  During #BBBatTPC, I was able to sample everything from a simple breakfast sandwich to a finely wine-paired dinner and it was all spectacular.

Similarly outstanding was the staff.  From the starters and marshals to the pro shop employees and waiters, the staff at TPC Sawgrass takes great care to make sure that your experience is first class.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the caddies at TPC Sawgrass.  My group played with a forecaddie, John, who was invaluable to both our enjoyment and success on the course.  Every player is given a yardage book which is a great souvenir but a poor substitute for a caddy.  John found every golf ball, gave us perfect lines off the tee, and offered reads on the greens that could not have been better.

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Course Conditions

I’ve played some very well-conditioned courses in my life and the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is right at the top of that list.  The thing that stands out above all is the consistency.  Every green rolled at precisely the same speed thanks to state-of-the-art moisture management systems.  Each bunker played identically to the last.  The rough, fairways, and tee boxes were all in great shape.

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Beauty & Scenery

The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course offers not just a great test of golf, but also a very beautiful place to spend four hours.  Though it lacks dramatic elevation, it has a great blend of sand, water, and greenery that gives every hole a unique look.

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Course Design & Difficulty

If this course had poor conditions, abysmal service, and wasn’t famous, I would still want to play it again.  That’s how good the design is.

First, though Pete Dye has the reputation (well earned) for being a sadist, there are tee boxes for every ability level.  The Players tees stretch over 7,200 yards, but the White and Green tees register just over 6,100 and 5,000, respectively.  Changing tee boxes will completely change the look and challenge of tee shots, and it can give shorter hitters the opportunity to take reasonable clubs into the difficult greens.  With as much water as there is at TPC Sawgrass, the course can be penal, but that, too, can be negated by the right tees.

You would be hard pressed to find a course that has more variety than the Stadium Course.  The TPC Sawgrass favors neither drawers nor faders but rather tips its hat to players who can work the ball both ways.  This can be seen in the first two holes: #1 asks for a fade, #2 requires a draw.  Similar ball control is expected on shots into the green.

Finally, what I like most about the course is that it demands complete focus and precision on each shot.  This is not a driver’s course nor is it a second-shot course; it’s an every-shot course.  At any given time, a wayward shot can derail your hole or your round.  There are holes where birdie can be made, but they are not easy by anyone’s definition.  The short par 3’s, most famously #17, are perfect examples of this.

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When the green fees start at $250 and climb up to $400, you’d think Value would be a weak point, but I will argue that the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is actually a solid value.

For the average golfer, this is a once in a lifetime play, and the whole experience lives up to that.  From the layout to the conditions to the amenities and service, nothing disappoints at TPC Sawgrass.

When you play at a venue like this, you’re not paying for the round as much as you’re paying for the memories of going for it on #16, hitting the green on #17, and trying to make par on #18.  That closing stretch alone will make the green fee feel like a bargain every time The Players Championship is on TV.

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Being a bucket list course can be a tricky thing.  Often the expectations are so high that they simply can’t be met.  Other times, golfers find that the reality simply doesn’t match the hype.  Neither is the case with the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course.  From the layout to the conditions to the service, nothing disappoints.  Though I regarded playing there as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I intend to do everything I can to change “once” into “twice”…at least.

Matt Saternus
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  1. Here’s the big question, did you hit the green on 17?

  2. Steinthor Sigurdsson

    Great review Matt. One day…!

  3. Cedric Theofanous

    Always cool to play a course you’ve been watching on tv for years. I think you may have convinced me to pay up and play this course next time I’m in Florida.

  4. Great reviews! And I 100% agree about the green fee being worth it. I’m golfing poor (membership, rarely play elsewhere and only buy demo or used clubs), but never doubted expensive rounds. Never been to Florida, but did The Plantation Course in Maui and Glen Abbey this year. Wow. Just the experience and seeing where the pros have hit famous shots. Plus all the frolicking whales in Maui ;). But even more, I can’t wait to watch this/next year and compare my abysmal performance (was even through 8 in Maui but died afterward; being my first round with no warm up after 5 months didn’t help…was just bad in Oakville) to the pros on some of my favourite holes! Crossed 2 of my top 5 bucket list courses in last calandar year! Unlikely to do Old Course, Sawgrass or Pebble soon though :(.

  5. Jeffrey J Kovash

    Hey Matt
    Look me up as its half price with me. I’m there over the winter as I use it as my winter residence. Overseeded is a delight versus the photos you have here….

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