photo credit: Pat Ralph
The unofficial “fifth major” kicks off this week at the TPC Sawgrass, with the Players Championship occuring March 12-15. The tournament, commonly called simply the Players, boasts the largest purse in golf and the largest winner’s share, making it a must-play event for the world’s best golfers. This year’s field includes defending champion and world number 1 Rory McIlroy, along with Dustin Johnson, Viktor Hovland, and Phil Mickelson. This year’s tournament will also take on special significance as it is the first edition following the death of legendary course architect Pete Dye, who built the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
The Stadium Course
The Stadium Course was the brainchild of Pete and Alice Dye, the first couple of course design. The course was built specifically to host the Players Championship, and explains the difficulty of the course and the landscaping to allow thousands of fans a vantage point. The course can hold 36,000 spectators, primarily through the use of grass mounds placed around holes that act as natural stadium seating. The signature hole is the par-3 17th, which features an “island” green, an incredibly small green surrounded by water and connected to the rest of the course by a thin strip of land.
The course was not immediately a hit with golfers when it debuted in 1982. In fact, legendary professional Ben Crenshaw remarked that the course played as if it was “designed by Darth Vader”. The fairways were incredibly narrow, surrounded by marshland, palm trees, and waste areas, with fast, firm greens guarded by water and deep pot bunkers. Dye eventually relented, removing bunker and making the greens more playable, though the course is still counted as one of the toughest on the PGA Tour.
Fans looking to catch the action in person can pick up a Daily Stadium Pass for between $25-$70 depending on the day. Fans with a valid student ID can get in for $55 for each tournament day. In addition, kids 15 and under get in free with a ticketed adult, and All Active Duty, Military Retirees, Military Reserve, National Guard, and military spouses, along with dependents, will receive complimentary admission to the tournament all week. Veterans also have the opportunity to purchase up to two (2) discounted tickets per day. Tickets for the Captain’s Club, a premium club space with views of the 16th and 18th holes at TPC Sawgrass with beer, wine, and soft drinks included can be had for $250. Another shared hospitality venue is The Turn, which features a full bar and food available for purchase inside a sports bar like venue with indoor and outdoor seating. Weekly tickets to The Turn are $700.
Television coverage is shared between the Golf Channel and NBC. The first two rounds will be shown on The Golf Channel Thursday and Friday, 1-7pm ET. Saturday coverage will be 2-7pm ET on NBC, with the final round coverage coming on Sunday, 1-6pm ET on NBC. Streaming coverage is available through PGA Tour Live of select groups and holes throughout the tournament. Radio coverage is provided by PGA Tour Radio on SiriusXM and online at PGATour.com.