Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. -- When I visited the TPC Sawgrass on Monday, folks were still abuzz about local player Bob Dickson. Last month, the former professional and now TPC Sawgrass member went out on the front nine of the Stadium Course and scored an albatross on the par-5 2nd, aced the par-3 8th and rounded out his nine with a 29.
He brought his Caddyshack round home on the back with a 66, one shot less than his age of 67. The PGA Tour website profiled his round here.
First-time players on the Stadium shouldn't set their sights this high. I played my maiden round this week. Coincidentally, Pete Dye was onsite, having lunch in the clubhouse at the same time. And sure enough, as our group played the front nine, he was behind us a few holes with his team, surveying the layout for possible changes as the course was about to close for summer maintenance.
Dye watched me yank a tee shot left on No. 4 and follow that up with a hook into the water beside the green. As we putted out, he said hello to our group and gave me a pity pat on the back.
Another Dye course had me sufficiently rattled (usually the case my first time around them). Only for the first time, Dye himself got to watch it happen.
But the most ridiculous shot of the day was my tee shot on the 17th.
Playing just 135 yards to a back-left pin, I skulled a pitching wedge that bee-lined, toward the green hot. No chance would it stay on the surface if it landed there.
But the ball struck the bulkhead, sailed over the green and water and landed on the hill behind, where spectators would normally be shoulder-to-shoulder during PLAYERS week. From here, I managed to chip the ball safely on the green and putt out for a 4.
'Not too many even numbers come on this hole,' laughed Nancy Scranton, former LPGA touring professional and one of my playing partners that day.
To put it mildly, my 18-hole shank-fest on the Stadium was the opposite of Dickson's marvelous 66. Marketing folks at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa told me the following morning they are surprised at just how many people come to play the Stadium course as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But sure enough, often times they return a couple years later for another go.
Now I know why. After getting thoroughly beat down on Dye's masterpiece, all I can think about is my own Sawgrass Redemption story.