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Monday, May 5, 2008

Sawgrass 17 - A Shotmaker's Hole

The 17th at Sawgrass epitomizes a shot-maker's hole. At 138 yards, brawn doesn't matter. With a 6,000 square-foot green, accuracy is everything. Just as important, though, is your ball's trajectory and spin. If it doesn't come in high and soft, it can easily bounce off the tiny target.

A couple of other things make the 17th even more challenging. One is the wind, which can put anything from a wedge to a six-iron in your hand or even force you to aim out over the water if it's blowing hard from right or left.

TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole
The other factor is the crowd. Even though you probably won't be playing in front of packed galleries like the pros in the Players' Championship, I can guarantee there will be at least one and probably two foursomes behind you waiting for their turn on the tee. The club also encourages non-playing tourists to visit the spot, too, so there are often a handful of gawkers watching your swing. Every atom in your body screams "Don't chunk it! Don't dunk it!" when you stand up to the ball. Your soul would shrivel up and expire should anyone chuckle. It's a grand game, ain't it?

The hole is full of stories. The last time I played it, everyone in my foursome drowned their (USGA-unapproved) practice shot from the back of the pro's tee. When we moved to the real tee, two players hit the green, then both sank their birdie putts while the other two (including me) reached for another sleeve of balls and headed for the 18th tee. The birdie boys are still chirping about it.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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