Is the tee shot at the 17th island hole at TPC Sawgrass the most pressure-packed shot in tournament golf


It may be the most famous, or infamous, par 3 in golf. But is the tee shot on the par-3 17th at The Players Championship the most pressure-packed shot in tournament golf? Jason Sobel and Randall Mell weigh in with their opinions.


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In a word, no. Unless you're Angelo Spagnolo.

The erstwhile 'worst avid golfer in the world' once carded a 66 on the 17th hole, but the world's best golfers should be able to navigate the island green in about 63 fewer strokes.

At just 137 yards on the scorecard, this hole is simply a 9-iron or pitching wedge for the pros.

The only trouble here comes when the wind blows or the competitors try to get greedy and go for the flagstick.

So here's some advice: Don't do it. Even noted risk-taker Phil Mickelson has intimated that his strategy is to aim for the middle of the green. His fellow players should follow that lead.

Not only is the tee shot on 17 not the most daunting shot on Tour, it's not even the scariest on TPC-Sawgrass' closing holes. That honor goes to the approach into 18, which is guarded by a water hazard down the entire left side.

And if you're looking for another late par-3 that's tougher, check out the closer at East Lake. Not only is it longer and more difficult, but there's usually more than $1.7 million on the line, too.


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Yes. There are better shots required to more strategically clever holes.

The 12th at Augusta National comes to mind. There are shots that require more command. The shot into the 17th at Pebble Beach qualifies. There are shots that demand more artistry. The go-for-the-green tee shot at the 17th at Oakmont meets that criteria.

There are considerably more important shots.
Any shot Sunday in a major meets the standard because there's more history at stake.

But there’s no more difficult shot to hit under pressure than the shot into the 17th at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. That’s because there is so much more luck required than with any other shot in big-time tournament golf. With the wind, the ball's bounce and spin dependent on the particular firmness of the green that day, there’s an element of cosmic whim the player can’t control. While other shots also have that, they don’t have the same penal consequence for a miss.

There are places to miss at Augusta National’s 12th, Pebble Beach’s 17th, Oakmont’s 17th or any other hole at the TPC at Sawgrass, but there’s no reasonable place to miss at the 17th island hole. That’s why it’s the most difficult shot to hit under pressure.