It may not be a major, but The Players Championship certainly has that feel, which is probably one of the reasons that Pete Dye's Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., near Jacksonville is in such high demand when the tour is not in town.
The beauty of the TPC at Sawgrass, of course, is that anyone can play it. Though it can be a little pricey (upwards of $300 in peak season), it is attainable, and like other high profile courses that have hosted major events, we know all the holes from watching it year to year -- and that makes the appeal that much stronger. Everyone wants to see how they'll do on the famous 17th island green as well as many of the other famous holes down the stretch.
But there is another course at the TPC Sawgrass, and it's a pretty good second choice. Recently renovated, the Valley Course, also a Dye creation, hosts a Nationwide Tour event in the fall, and many locals prefer it over its more famous sibling, citing its playability, variety of holes and much cheaper green fees.
There are other worthwhile plays nearby as well. Just down the road in St. Augustine, visitors can not only check out the World Golf Hall of Fame, but they can also stay at the World Golf Village and play the golf courses there -- the Slammer & Squire Course, and the King & Bear Course. Anybody who knows anything about golf knows the courses were named for Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen, and Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, which is reason enough to check them out. These are enjoyable resort courses that are always in great shape, and atmosphere here just screams golf.
Also consider Queens Harbour Yacht and Golf Club, which is built around a freshwater yacht basin connected to the Intracoastal waterway. Designed by Mark McCumber, the course is routed through marshes and graced by majestic live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
Windsor Parke Golf Club is a notable Arthur Hills design located near Jacksonville Beach and minutes from the airport. Just up the road from the World Golf Village is Cimarrone Golf Club, designed by David Postlethwait. And finally, one more choice to consider is the Ponte Vedra Beach and Country Club at Sawgrass. Not to be confused with the TPC, Ponte Vedra Beach and C.C. at Sawgrass is a reasonably priced, Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay-designed par 70 that players of all levels can enjoy.