Not many PGA tournament-level golf courses are open to the public, but the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass welcomes both golfers and visitors all the time (except during tournaments). TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida near St. Augustine, features the legendary course, a purpose-built golf venue designed to host sensational golf matches.
Considered by many experts to be one of the best public courses in the country, The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a 7,215 yard monster, designed to challenge every aspect of a player’s game. Trust me, if you have a weakness, this course will find and exploit it. There are things going left, going right, sand, water and a combination of long, medium and short holes that really separate the men from the boys. I just played the course and it’s a incredible experience. Holes like the infamous 17th, with its island green, are quite humbling and to me, that’s what golf travel is all about, being able to play iconic courses and holes. It’s very cool to play the same course you watch the pros play on TV. It’s called The Stadium Course because it really is a natural 18 hole golf stadium, with hills, elevations and ridges along each hole. Those elevations allow golf fans to line each tee, fairway and green for incredible vantage points to watch the play. It’s a beautifully designed course to both watch golf and to play golf.
How to play TPC Sawgrass
Golf reservations can easily be made online, the booking window is normally two weeks, but reservations can be made up to a year in advance. Green fees range from $250 to $400 per round, depending on the month of the year. Online specials are offered such as discounted rates for pre-9 a.m. rounds. Fees include a golf cart and a forecaddie. A forecaddie is a caddie who walks with you and advises on shots but does not carry clubs.
Visiting the course and clubhouse
For visitors to the area without enough time for a round of golf, the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse is open to the public and red-jacketed volunteers are on-staff during regular business hours to give tours. Its another example of how TPC Sawgrass and THE PLAYERS Championship are focused on engaging with the public and golf fans, not an elite group of club members. I went on a tour and the beautiful building is just filled with golf history.
THE PLAYERS Championship
The Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course was designed for one purpose, to host THE PLAYERS Championship, held each May and considered the fifth major tournament in professional golf. More than just a golf event, THE PLAYERS has become a whole week of golf, food, fun and music and it’s a great time to visit this destination for golfers and their families. THE PLAYERS has the biggest money prize of any tournament and also offers players the most points towards their World Golf Ranking. The prestige of the event, along with the fact that it’s held on the same course each year, are why players and fans hold it in such high esteem. Like the Super Bowl of golf, THE PLAYERS has become a must-see for golf fans and an event they all must attend at least once.
Getting to TPC Sawgrass
The course is under an hour from Jacksonville Airport (JAX) and about 40 minutes from downtown St. Augustine. Located in Northeast Florida, the entire area is called “Florida’s Historic Coast” and really does offer a great range of fun and activities for golfers and families.
Where to stay
To be right on the course, the Sawgrass Marriott Resort offers luxurious accommodations directly adjacent to the course, with golf cart shuttle service. The hotel’s Cabana Beach Club is located directly on the sand and offers visitors a range of water, beach and sun fun. The Sawgrass Marriott offers some great stay and play packages which include golf. I have to mention the Sawgrass Marriott’s amazing restaurant Vernon’s, which I can confirm has some of the best food in the whole Northern Florida area.
Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog luxuryfred.com. In the past year, he has visited Turkey twice, had a foodie adventure in Hong Kong, taken a cruise down the Mekong river through Vietnam and Cambodia, slept in an Ice Hotel in Canada, performed on stage with Yes at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas and toured Peru. You can follow him on Twitter -@luxuryfred and on Instagram – @luxuryfred.
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