Most Florida golf courses do their heaviest maintenance during the summer, when lighter crowds allow for the opportunity to complete projects without too much customer inconvenience.
But there’s maintenance and then there’s the recent overhaul at the famed TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, in an unfathomably short amount of time.
In an 18-day span from June 17 to July 4, every tee box, fairway and greenside approach area was scalped of its old Tifway 419 Bermudagrass and replaced with Celebration Bermuda, a heartier strain of the Florida-friendly grass that handles weather extremes better and regrows faster (i.e., your big wedge divot takes a bite).
The project made for some interesting visuals along the way. Imagine the 18th fairway without any grass, just freshly laid sand. It resembled a Florida Gulf Coast beach. Picture the iconic island-green 17th hole with the outer ring of grass removed, making the putting surface even more of an island.
But then the new turf arrived, spread out in giant rolls like a fresh carpet. Which, essentially, it was. With heavy watering and some time to settle, the conversion was complete and the course reopened.
I played the Stadium shortly after the project and the surfaces were terrific. They have to be for the amount of traffic the course gets from the public, paying premium prices for a bucket-list round, not to mention the high standards of the PGA Tour for its marquee event, May’s Players Championship.
“We try to get this course is great condition for the greatest players in the world but we have to give our customers the experience they expect the other weeks,” TPC Sawgrass general manager Bill Hughes told the Jacksonville Times-Union. “People have watched the tournament on TV, fly in here and it might be their only experience playing it. We don’t take that lightly.”
It goes without saying that the fairways at the Stadium Course are far, far preferable than the rough. The areas off the short grass weren’t touched, leaving some of the nastiest Bermuda anywhere in the state. So the No. 1 piece of advice for playing Pete Dye’s masterpiece still stands – keep it in play, at all costs. And enjoy the new turf.
If you go
110 Championship Way
Ponte Vedra Beach