What's new at The Players Stadium at TPC Sawgrass for 2014?

By Brandon TuckerJanuary 31, 2014, 9:06 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- It's only January on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, but there are already signs of a big event on the horizon. Grounds crews are in trees, clearing out grasses for new spectator areas, and around the 16th & 17th green, the epicenter of fan excitement, platforms have already been set.

The Players won't begin until the second week of May, but tournament officials have been busy since last year's event ended trying to up the ante. 

Matt Rapp, Executive Director of The Players, is in charge of finding new ways to enhance the spectator experience each year, whether it's adding to culinary options with local vendors and food trucks or improving spectator traffic flow. He looks at his duties this way: "We want the next year to feel like the 'Super Bowl'," he said. "And last year's to feel like AA-baseball."

Last year's Players was anything but minor league. Tiger Woods' victory was his first here since 2001 and the event drew 173,946 fans, checking in just shy of the sea of humanity at the TPC Scottsdale during the Waste Management Phoenix Open (179,022). The Players is unique because it carries a major-worthy field that attracts huge attention, yet unlike three of the four majors, it's staged at the same venue every year. That means the PGA Tour can invest in permanent event facilities other tour stops can't -- and the only other venue where it seems logical to do so is at Augusta National. The result is many niceties for fans you won't find at other events (or any outdoor festival for that matter) like convenient parking and plenty of permanent bathrooms. The Stadium currently has two, enormous, $800,000 rest areas on the course specifically meant for The Players, with a third being built by the 12th tee to be ready for 2014: 

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More permanent bathrooms on the Stadium Course are a welcomed site to any spectator. 

Unlike The Masters, fan capacity at TPC Sawgrass is high enough that, despite the top field, it's rather easy to get tickets. Weekly ground passes start at $150 while daily grounds passes start at $58 (cheaper during practice rounds) and head higher depending on what kind of access to the clubhouse and VIP areas you want. For those who want to walk the whole course, Rapp and his crew have prided themselves on analyzing spectator traffic each year and looking for ways to weed out the bottlenecks, making it feasibly possible to follow a group from the first tee to 18th green. Natural, grass mounding that frame holes have always been a signature of the TPC "Stadium" concept, and as a result, there are very few bleachers erected around the course, mostly just around the 1st tee and the amphitheater around No. 16 and 17, plus corporate hospitality and VIP tents. For 2014, mounds have been added to seven holes (No. 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12 & 14) specifically for the purpose of viewing lines, making it all that much easier to follow action throughout the course.

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Spectators will have a new, elevated vantage point of the 3rd green thanks to newly installed mounding. 

Playing golf at TPC Sawgrass

TPC Sawgrass is the home of the PGA Tour, and many tour pros reside here just to play and practice here, but that doesn't mean you can't play through. Rounds on the Stadium don't come cheap here and green fees can soar north of $400 in prime times with a forecaddie or walking caddie. Dye's Valley course, a Web.com-worthy venue, can be played more affordably (rates are currently under $200). However, Dye's Valley, which is usually open for play during The Players, is scheduled to close March 1st for renovation work and is expected to reopen in September.

If the green fees are too heavy on your wallet, don't let that deter you from at least visiting the property, which is a marvel. The 77,000-square-foot clubhouse, built in 2007, may appear opulent on TV, but it's very welcoming inside. Volunteer tour guides are on premises every single day except Christmas, and will take anyone on a free tour of the many artworks and artifacts that aim to tell the PGA Tour story. Also, anyone can have a meal in Nineteen, the restaurant and bar overlooking the course, which is frequented by many tour players and dignitaries. 

For those looking for a stay-and-play golf package at the TPC Sawgrass, look no further than the next door Sawgrass Marriott Resort, which just underwent a thorough refresh to their public areas in the hotel (including spa) as well as their roomy vacation rentals. They've also built a new path that can shuttle guests straight to the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse without any need of a car.


Punch Shots: Is the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass the best golf course you can play in Florida? 


 

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.