May 8, 2014; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; An overall view of the 17th green during the first round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The 17th Hole At The Players Championship Is A Real Monster?

The 137 yard par three 17th hole at The Players Championship is one of the most iconic golf holes on the PGA Tour. The hole is as recognizable as the 13th at Augusta, and may well be the most famous golf hole anywhere on the planet.  Is it really the monster that people say it is, or is the 18th hole the real monster on this Pete Dye layout at TPC Sawgrass?

The Honda Classic features The Bear Trap, then there’s the Snake Pit in Tampa, and of course, The Monster Mile at Quail Hollow. The 17th and 18th at TPC Sawgrass has no catchy name, but is as dangerous a set of finishing holes as any on the PGA Tour.

Let’s face it, you successfully negotiate the island green at 17 on a Sunday afternoon only to face one of the most brutal tee shots anywhere, at 18.

How much do you want to bite off? Get too greedy, and don’t flush it, you’re wet, get too conservative, and you have no shot at the green.

In 2013, four players went to the 17th tee with a share of the Sunday lead, and only Tiger Woods was able to get through the two-hole maze at even par to win his second trophy at The Players.

The 17th hole is the 14 handicap hole at TPC Sawgrass, but there have been more ball in the water through the history of the tournament than any other hole on the tour. almost 1400 balls have found the water through the years.

On Thursday, there were on 12 balls in the water, and 22 birdies. It played just slightly over par at 3.021 strokes and only rendered six bogeys, and 8 others(double bogey or worse). It was T 9 for difficulty.

In fact, NBC Golf Analyst Johnny Miller said in an article at that they should add some length to the 17th hole because without some wind, it’s too easy. He wants the PGA to add some tee options so that in conditions like we had on Thursday, they could make it more difficult.

“If I owned the golf course,” Miller said Monday in the run-up to Players Championship this weekend. “I would definitely have a back tee on 17 and another 20 yards, anyway, if there’s no wind, no projected wind.”

“I would like to see the guys at least hit an 8-iron, maybe even a 7-iron. I just think it would be just a more exciting hole than throwing up a 9-iron or wedge up there.”

I’m not sure that I don’t disagree with Miller, and maybe the hole could be firmed up a little. The changes in equipment over the past twenty years could very well force the tournament officials to re-consider some changes to a golf course that is not quite the monster it was in the past.

Over the years, the greens have firmed, and that is the real problem here. The rest of the course is pretty benign with the length that most of the top players have. Maybe it’s time to toughen it up a bit.

The toughest year was 2007. There were 50 balls in the water on Thursday, and a total of 93 on the week. Obviously, the wind was blowing, and 17 was the monster it is touted to be.

Who got it close on Thursday at 17? Derek Ernst, competing in his second PLAYERS, hit his tee shot 2 feet, 5 inches from the pin, the closest tee shot during Thursday’s opening round. Michael Putnam was second at 2 feet, 6 inches. James Driscoll was third at 2 feet, 7 inches.

The 18th hole on the other hand, is the number two handicap hole on the golf course, only subordinated by the 442 yard par four 7th hole. With the rules requiring the number one handicap to be on the front nine, the 18th has to be number two.

Although both 17 and 18 require the full attention of someone hoping to notch a victory here, the 18th is by far the toughest!


Tags: 2014 Players Championship Golf Johnny Miller PGA

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