Taking on the 17th at Sawgrass must be almost top of every amateur golfer and our resident USA Golf Travel expert, Robin Couchman, did just that for Eagle Golf and can tell you about his outcome and the best value packages we have to offer.
Playing the TPC Stadium at Sawgrass had been a long time goal of mine, especially as it has been a permanent fixture on the PGA Tour and my TV for many years, with the excitement and recognition as the “5th Major” and one of the few events that take place year after year at the same venue.
With access from several UK airports to Orlando, Sawgrass is just over a 2-hour drive away, and it is a relatively simple trip to do. You need to stay on property at the Marriott Sawgrass Resort and Spa to play the course, but this does not have to be for the entire duration. I enjoyed a few nights in Orlando first, staying on International Drive and playing some excellent local golf at Shingle Creek and Falcons Fire and then took the “pilgrimage” to Jacksonville for one night staying in a lovely villa room.
The Marriott has some excellent facilities, including a rejuvenating spa, 5 swimming pools and four restaurants offering various cuisine. However, it is the golf that I had come to play and precisely the Stadium course. It starts with a relatively tame Par 4 1st hole, but there is not much room for error with penal rough and lightning-fast greens. The course is not one of the longest on tour and playing from the Blues at 6,670 yards it was a challenge, but not intimidating (that only comes later in the round!!!). Water comes in to play on the majority of holes. Some large expansive bunkers are also a prominent feature predominantly on the Par 5 11th, where should you be able to go for the green in two, it will mean avoiding sand the size of the Sahara desert! However, the entire build-up as I went played around the course, was to reach the last 3 holes, the par 5 16th is a pretty straight and long hole that requires accurate placement from tee to green and risk and reward if you want to take this on in two, I played the safe three-shot route to make my par.
Next was 17 which has had countless balls lost in the water and tournaments won and lost, and that day it was playing 143 yards (as they can move the tee block around the waterside). I decided to play a hard pitching wedge and made the front right half of the green. The flag was located on the back left, and I decided that I would not waste this opportunity, hit the putt firm and to my amazement and utter joy it went it and a memory never to be wiped from my brain! With the impact of this, I flushed my drive down the 18th, (a nervy tee shot at the best of times) to the right side of the fairway. It is a substantial finishing hole, and dogleg left Par 4 with water down the left side. I popped my second shot on to the green and finished with a par.