TPC Sawgrass

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“It’s like having a 3 o’clock appointment for a root canal. You’re thinking about it all morning and you feel bad all day. You know sooner or later you’ve got to get to it.” () These are the words of Mark Calcavecchia in an interview with the PGA about number 17 at the TPC Sawgrass. It’s known as the infamous hole that is a mere 140 yards, which on the tour is a chip shot, but it is completely surrounded with water. The green has 2 huge slopes on running off the front, and the other running off the back right of the green. The green is shaped by the slopes, there is a flat part at the top left and then there are the slopes, but there is no green besides that. Oh yeah, and there is a nice deep bunker located right at the vertex of the 2 slopes. So when you’re a tour pro with a one shot lead knowing you can’t hit a poor shot and then have just as tough of a hole coming up to finish might be one of the most pressure situations of you life, especially when there is about 1.6 million dollars on the line.

Going through middle school I grew up playing golf and video games. I would mainly play golf video games, and about every single Tiger Woods series video game included the golf course at TPC Sawgrass. The first time I saw it I wanted to play it, but to my knowledge the course was exclusively private. I was wrong, but not completely wrong, to be able to play there at a very expensive fee, you must stay at the very exclusive resort located near the golf course. When ideas with my best friend’s family for my senior trip came up, this was the first thing I mention and my dream came true. His name is Jeremy, and he loves golf just, but he just recently took up the game, and felt it would be too hard. He was unaware of the course having the island green, and wanted to go the second I told him.

We arrived with our fathers feeling like we were some sort of professionals. The club house was like something Bill Gates would live in, and everyone was at our service. The temperature in Ponte Vedra, Florida was beautiful. We took a tour off the club house before our round, and couldn’t even finish it since the club house was so big. My dad went off a paid, and came back with a surprisingly happy look. I was confused, normally when a round of golf for two cost 765 dollars you would be mad, but oddly he didn’t care. Each group must go around and play with a forecaddie whether you walk or ride. He would fix our divots, tell us our yardages, find our golf balls, rake the sand, and tell us stories about each hole.

I stepped up to the first tee feeling a little nervous, but then told my self “o well its Sawgrass, just have fun.” I then crank one right down the center, and getting a par on the first hole. I actually was playing very well and having the time of my life. The greens rolled true, and the whole course was in perfect conditions. The rough was the deepest rough I had ever played out of, and our caddie said the course was going to be closed in a month to get it ready for the tournament. It was one of the most beautiful displays my eyes have ever seen. We finally got around to the 17th hole and my jaw dropped. I was the most daunting thing I had ever seen. Our caddie told us the crazy stories about the whole, about some guy scoring a 65 and someone getting a hole in one. The craziest thing I learned was that on average there are 150,000 balls hit in the water each year on average. On average there are 50,000 rounds. That means per person 3 balls are in hit in the water.

My hands where shaking and it felt like couldn’t control them. My hand that didn’t have glove began to sweat. I stepped back, poured some water on my hands and dried them with a towel. I told myself “who cares” and I choked down on one extra club and hit the ball. It came of my club perfectly and was heading right at the flag. All my mind kept saying was “It’s on! It’s on! It’s on!” A small burst of wind blew ball slightly to the right. It wasn’t near enough to fly into the water. The ball seemed like it was in the air forever. It finally came down landing 10 feet right off the pin. Our loud supportive caddy yelled “nice shot! You did it.” One second after I heard my dad talk with a concerned tone. “Oh…. Stay on, that might be in trouble.” I grasped the gripped of my club as tight as I could and leaned my body to the right. I was hoping by doing this ball would stop rolling down the steep hill falling to the right, and not fall in the drink. I doubt it was my body lean that made it stop, but something did. It stopped 6 inches before falling off the green.

We drove our golf carts up to the green and walked around the bridge in the back of the green. Only Jeremy’s dad, and myself were able to accomplish this difficult task. I go to my ball and notice how small the green truly is. From 140 yards away it seems like its pretty big, but my put was only about 3o feet up the hill. From the tee box it looked more like 60 feet. I am unable to get behind the ball and read my put or else I would have been swimming with the crocodiles. I go behind the hole to pick a spot to aim at, check what way the grain is going, how big the slope was, and how hard should I hit it. Judging how hard to hit it was more about feel, and basing it upon the other information I gathered. Down grain, definitely uphill, and my aiming point was about 2 feet right of the hole. I lined up my ball, and took 3 practice strokes, and hit it without thinking anything else. Then, what seemed 5 minutes later, my ball was in the bottom of the couple. I actually birdied the hole that most pro’s leave with a broken heart on. It was a feeling so amazing I am incapable of explaining it. I left Florida, not going to the beach once, with the feeling that going to Ponte Vedra was the greatest experience of my life. I was saddened by the fact I may never get to play that course ever again, but if that’s the case at least I am satisfied with my performance. I felt like it was worth all 400 dollars to play.





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