Love or hate No 17 at TPC Sawgrass


The island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass has been the recipient of plenty of cheers and jeers over the years. Tiger Woods called it 'too gimmicky' and Mark Calcavecchia said, 'It's like having a 3 o'clock appointment for a root canal.' Travel editor Erik Peterson and the Golf Guy trade Punch Shots on its significance.


I’ve watched the drama for 25 some-odd years.

And then I finally experienced it myself just prior to this year's Players Championship.

Hook, line . . . and sinker. Literally. The par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass is flat-out one of the greatest holes in all of golf. Period. Exclamation point!!!

It is, perhaps, what Hollywood wishes from all its movies. Think Titanic meets Good Fellas meets Waterworld meets Caddyshack.

You see, there are plenty of other bland par-3 17th holes on the PGA Tour. I dare you to name just a few. Simple fact is, the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass has become bigger than the game. There, I said it. The entertainment value is just that important.

The so-called 'golf purists' generally try to complain about what a gimmick hole it is. They for some reason think that the sport is above 'entertainment.'

Well, guess what? The entire sport lives on the fact that it is purely entertainment. We don't need to watch golf. We choose too because it's entertaining.

And those who do watch do so for reasons that provide some fun. Some drama. Some entertainment.

And not one single hole on the entire PGA Tour schedule provides the whole enchilada like the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

I can't imagine why anyone would actually argue against how awesome this legendary golf hole is and has become. They're probably the type of people who you wouldn't want to invite to a party.

For the rest of us, we will continue to enjoy the show. Thanks Pete Dye. And his wife Alice as well.   




This week all eyes are on TPC Sawgrass and its diabolical 17th hole. But with Nos. 16 and 18 requiring more length and accuracy than the island green par-3, you could make a case for 17 being the easiest of the final three holes and thus, not all it’s cracked up to be.

To be clear, 17 is indeed a difficult hole, and exciting as all get-out for the fans. Despite its meager yardage there’s a fine line between wet and dry, and par is a daunting task no matter how good you are. But the fact remains 17 is the easiest approach shot on the last three holes. In fact, there are three shots that blow the 9-iron at 17 out of the water:

Second shot at 16 – At 523 yards the par-5 16th is short by PGA Tour standards, but its inviting yardage makes going for it tough to resist, despite water right and a fairway leading into the green that’s as narrow as a bowling alley. Even those who lay up at 16 have to consider the imposing tree short of the green.

Tee shot at 18 – Arguably the toughest tee shot on the PGA Tour, this 462-yard par-4 has water all along the left and heavy rough awaiting those who bail out right. On Sunday when the wind’s blowing and the tournament’s on the line, there isn’t a more intimidating final tee shot in all of golf.

Second shot at 18 – If you don’t think the approach shot at 18 is a rollercoaster of emotion unlike any other shot at TPC Sawgrass, just ask Hal Sutton. “Be the right club, today… Yes,” is one of the great audio clips in Players’ history, and reveals true uncertainty in the voice of a man many consider one of the best ball strikers in golf.

17 strikes fear into all who play it, but 16 and 18 require more skill, focus and determination.