You know you’re at TPC Sawgrass when you look out your hotel room window and see the miniature island green in the lagoon. It’s not the real thing, but it might as well be, since you have just about as much chance of landing your ball there as you do on the real one at the Players Stadium Course, one of five courses at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort totaling 99 holes of fine golf in Ponte Vedre, Florida.
There are 18 holes on the Players Stadium Course, home of the Players Championship since 1982, but the 17th hole generates 99% of the excitement. It’s only 128 yards—the pros play about the same distance but from a slightly different angle—but the tee shot is like trying to land a ball on half of a tennis court. When the swirling winds come up, it’s more like trying to hit a ping pong table at the other end of a football field. Players lose 120,000 balls in the lake surrounding the green every year. Maybe that’s why it’s known as the most frightening hole in golf.
The Marriott Sawgrass Resort provides all the amenities a tired, hungry golfer could want. There are five restaurants on the property, including the Augustine Grille, where you can treat your homesick palate to a serving of Hudson Valley foie gras before tearing into a fine steak. The 25,000 square-foot spa is the place to go after your round for a soak in the whirlpool or the Sawgrass Grand Slam, which includes a hydro and color therapy bath, a deep cleansing and exfoliation, and, for the grand finale, a full body massage.
Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa
Ponte Vedre Beach
Nearest airport: Jacksonville (35 minutes)
Golf package: $469 includes room and breakfast, one round on Players Stadium Course for one golfer, forecaddie and other amenities. Note, you must be a guest at the Resort to play the Players Stadium Course.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo