It’s one of the most famous accidents in golf. Back in 1980, the original plan called for a hazard down the right between 16 and 17, but the sand they found around the green was so good, they kept on taking it out to fill in the swampland.
“I don’t think any of us really thought of the 17th hole,” designer Pete Dye is quoted as saying, “It just kind of arrived. We just kept digging.” What makes 17 so spectacular, apart from the aesthetics of the hole and atmosphere created by the massive crowds sitting on the left bank and around the green, is the fact that it’s only 133 metres from the back of the back tees to the middle of the green.
"Sounds simple, right? Well, consider that, for the pros, the challenge is normally to gauge the wind that sweeps and swirls over the water – and remember that the green is distinctly two-tiered, so depending on the pin position, you have to be really careful not to put too much spin on the ball and rip it back down the slope into the water. I speak from personal experience when I say this is as easy to say as it is to do!
"If you do find the drink, as many of the world’s best have done in the closing stages when the pressure’s on, you get to drop in a zone that’s almost exactly 70 metres to the centre of the green – except that you’re now playing across the slope not into it, so as Sean O’Hair found out last year, overcook it slightly and you’ll go bounding over the back. In summary, 17 at TPC Sawgrass lives up to its expectation. "
There you have it; the Mole is hoping the boss does not check the site too often!
For more on Sawgrass, the venue for this year's Players Championship (8-11 May), get your hands on the May issue of Compleat Golfer.