Taking on the 17th at Sawgrass must be almost top of every amateur golfer and our resident USA 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 takes place year after year at the same venue.
With access from a number of 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 the likes of Shingle Creek and Falcons Fire and then took the “pilgrimage” to Jacksonville for 1 night staying in a lovely villa room.
The Marriott has some excellent facilities including a rejuvenating spa, 5 swimming pools and 4 restaurants offering a variety of cuisine, however it is the golf that I had come to play and specifically the Stadium course. It starts off with a relatively tame Par 4 1st hole, but there is not much room for error with penal rough and lightening 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 and some large expansive bunkers are also a prominent feature especially on the Par 5 11th, where should you be in a position 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 lsot and that day it was playing 143 yards (as they can move the tee block around the waterside). I took the decision 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 strong finishing hole and dog leg left Par 4 with water all down the left side. I popped my second shot on to the green and finished with a par.