Ever see a picture so perfect that you know someone used Photoshop to enhance it? Sometimes, I find spots like that in Florida and I do a double take to record the scene in my head before reaching for a camera.
That’s precisely what happened when I visited TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. It is spectacular. When you’re standing on the balcony of the Clubhouse looking out on No. 18, the color is so intensely green, it reminds me of the advertising client who once had me color in the lawn on a brochure photo to the exact shade of green he selected.
Except at TPC Sawgrass, you’re looking at nature and the handiwork of two of the golf world’s greatest, Pete and Alice Dye, legendary course designers. Plus, a tour of the clubhouse and its artwork is a wonderful way to relive a lot of the game's greatest moments, something many of us non-playing fans of the sport can enjoy.
Located on the Atlantic coast south of Jacksonville, this is the birthplace of the TPC Network and home to the PGA Tour headquarters. On that balcony, I was looking out over the legendary Stadium Course, which was designed to challenge the pros.
A second course is called Dye’s Valley. Both wind through some of Florida’s prettiest landscapes, and golfers get an extraordinary sensory experience when they head for these tees.
And then there’s the 17th Island Green. This is a signature hole of the golf world, and it was designed by Alice Dye. I remember my reaction when I first saw this hole on television. I was stupefied, wondering how the field of pros would play this seemingly tiny green surrounded by water.
I’ve read that TV networks use up to 19 cameras to cover No. 17 during tournaments. (They must all have telephoto lenses because I don't think they would all fit on the green!) Next time you’re watching, you’ll appreciate just how verdant and pretty the landscape is in this part of North Florida.
And you’ll understand why I’m thinking of taking up golf (again) so I can go play a round at TPC Sawgrass.
THE PLAYERS Championship 2011 is May 12 - 15. Tickets are available on the website and via Ticketmaster, 1-888-401-8000.
Note: If you're coming to play at TPC (or your spouse is) and you'd like to explore other 'off the beaten path' locales, check back later this week for my stories on a foodie tour of St. Augustine and the Florida Folk Music Festival in White Springs.