March 21, 2006

The 17th at Sawgrass: Golf's Most Recognized Island Green

This week, the PGA Tour makes its annual stop at the TPC at Sawgrass for The Players Championship. Widely considered to be the "fifth" major on the professional cirucuit, The Players features the world's best golfers on one of the world's most famous courses. Besides the fanfare associated with the event's ultra-talented field and the prestige of winning the "players" event, a certain hole at Sawgrass inevitably tries to steal the spotlight each and every year: the 17th.

The 17th at Sawgrass is a par 3 hole measuring no more than 145 yards for the pros. Its green is roughly 4000 square feet in size, which isn't overly small by tour standards. And statistically, it usually isn't one of the most difficult holes on the course as most players are capable of reaching the green with a 9-iron or pitching wedge. However, before declaring the hole a pushover, you have to see it for yourself (click for flyover). You see, the 17th hole at Sawgrass is an island green. Thus, at least a 130 of those yards are a carry over water; plus if you happen to fly the green, you find the drink as well. All four sides of the green are surrounded by H20, and when the wind blows the hole becomes terribly intimidating. Last year, almost 30 tee shots found themselves wet, which is an awful lot considering the hole's length and the talent of the golfers playing it. In the 25 year history of the event, only six players have been able to make a hole in one on the 17th at Sawgrass. Brad Fabel accomplished the difficult feat first in 1986 while the next ace didn't come for another five years when Brian Claar made one in 1991. This year, look for the chaos to continue as the hole brings tour professionals to their knees once again.