April 25, 2023 - Golf GameBook

Discovering Golf’s Magic at TPC Sawgrass

When you arrive at TPC Sawgrass, you feel like you’ve stepped into a golfer’s dream. The iconic clubhouse, the locker rooms, the Players Pub 17, flawless greens, and fairways all exude a sense of glory and prestige. It’s a place where golf legends have made history and where an average golfer like me can have the experience of a lifetime.

As part of the RGV Tour 2.0, we had the opportunity to play at TPC Sawgrass during the #PLAYDAY. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of an event that celebrates the impact golf has on people’s lives, especially on the younger generation. Not only did we get to play golf at one of the most iconic courses in the world, but we also got to support the important work of First Tee – North Florida. The day was hosted by Len Mattiace, the two-time PGA Tour Winner and 2003 Master Runner up. What great stories we heard during the day. 

As for me, since we arrived at TPC Sawgrass, I was in awe. Everything was even more beautiful in person than on television, and the atmosphere was magical. But it wasn’t just the clubhouse, surroundings, facilities, or the two golf courses that impressed me; it was also the people. From the staff to the other golfers, everyone was friendly and welcoming. It’s clear that TPC Sawgrass is more than just a golf club: It’s the home of the players. 

(The photos used in this blog post were taken by Patrick on the same day!)

The morning began with us teeing off at the Dye’s Valley Course, the 139th course on the RGV Tour. The course lived up to its reputation and provided us with a challenging but enjoyable round of golf. Each hole provided its unique challenge, but it was just a warm-up for the main event: the Players Stadium Course.

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic and challenging golf courses. Every hole is a true masterpiece that requires precision and strategic thinking. The course is designed in such a way that it challenges every aspect of a golfer’s game, from tee to green. According to a Golf Digest study last year, golfers around a 10 handicap tend to score 5 to 10 strokes higher. After reading that, I felt even prouder of my round at the Stadium Course, where I shot 84, so 12 over par. As someone with a 9.2 handicap, it was a challenging but rewarding experience.

As we made our way through the course, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty and intricacy of each hole. The perfectly manicured fairways and greens, the strategically placed bunkers and water hazards, and the towering oak trees all added to the allure of the course.

Each hole presented its unique challenges, from the tight fairways of the first hole to the iconic island green on the 17th. As we played our way through the course, I truly felt like I was living a golfer’s dream.

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic golf holes. The green is surrounded by water, and it’s not uncommon for players to get nervous and hit their shots into the water. During the day, we heard so many stories about the 17th. You can remember, for example, the 2015 Players Championship. On the fourth playoff hole, Rickie Fowler stuck his tee shot inside five feet. He made a birdie, eliminating Kevin Kisner, to capture his career’s second PGA Tour victory.

But not all moments on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass have been happy. In 2013, Sergio Garcia was a co-leader on the 17th hole during the final round of The Players Championship. With the pressure on, he hit two balls into the water, ultimately leading to a quadruple bogey. In 1998, our host Len Mattiace was tied for the lead. On the 17th, Len’s tee shot found the water, and after taking a drop, his next shot landed in a bunker. Unfortunately, his bunker shot also found the water, resulting in a devastating score of eight for the hole.

This shows that the 17th hole has the power to test even the most skilled and experienced golfers in the world.

As I stood on the 17th tee box, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of the history and excitement of the hole. Hearing about those iconic moments from the past added to that feeling, and I knew I was about to make a memory I’d never forget. The stands were still up, and it felt like thousands of people were watching me. After a deep breath, I teed up my ball and took a swing. The ball sailed through the air and landed safely on the green, filling me with joy and excitement. 

We had The RGV Tour #AceCam on, but unfortunately, there were no aces. Len also found the green. Patrick got Pete Dyed and found the small island bunker while Mikko just came a few centimeters short of the green, hitting the wooden structure, and the ball bounced back into the water. 

And if the 17th is iconic, the 18th is simply spectacular. The massive clubhouse looms behind the green, and the water is on the left. Despite struggling with my driver on the tee box throughout the day, I was determined to make a good shot. And I did, 269 meters drive to the right side of the fairway. My approach wasn’t the best, but shortly after, when I sank my 60-foot birdie putt (yes, a true story!), I couldn’t help but feel like I was on top of the world.

The entire day was a celebration of golf, community, and growing the game, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. The RGV Tour 2.0 and #PLAYDAY were the perfect excuses to get there, support an important cause, and experience the magic of TPC Sawgrass.

I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us next.

Teemu Ruuska
Golf GameBook 

P.S. Thank you Mikko, Len, Charlo and Patrick. What a day it was! 

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