Unlike some of the private TPC courses played on tour, anyone can play the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass ...and I just love that.
You must love it, too, because I always get flooded with questions about playing at TPC Sawgrass as soon as Players Championship Week begins.
So, before my inbox fills up even more, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions and a few insider tips you should know if you'd like to play one of the best, most famous, and most recognizable golf courses in the world.
1. Is it possible to play TPC Sawgrass at a discount?
Yes, the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is expensive. But you can often play it for less than the $495+ high-season (March-June) green fee if you take advantage of specials and discounts that are often made available.
A few winters ago, for instance, I alerted you to one of the most amazing deals I had ever seen (before it was officially made public, I might add).
Whereas a round on the Players Stadium Course alone can cost more than $400, the package I uncovered included three rounds of golf (one on the Players Stadium Course) and three nights' lodging for $387 per person, double occupancy.
Now, I'm not sure if this deal will ever be offered again, and prices have gone up, but it’s not a bad idea to monitor the TPC website (tpc.com/sawgrass), Twitter feed (@tpcsawgrass) or Sawgass Marriott website (sawgrassmarriott.com) which are often updated with enticing packages.
2. When is the best time to play TPC Sawgrass?
It depends if you want the course's full fury or not. If you take your Florida golf vacation in the winter months, for example, the rough is still largely dormant and the course is more playable. By contrast, playing in spring just before or after the Players Championship is for sadists who favor U.S. Open-style rough.
Keep in mind, the course often closes for a bit after the tournament, and again during the summer for aerification/maintenance. This year, it closes soon after the tournament to undergo some renovations in addition to normal annual maintenance.
3. Is the service commensurate with the price?
TPC Sawgrass is not one of those high-profile places that charges you a lot of money, then makes you feel unworthy to be there. The golf staff is particularly friendly and service-minded.
One day, for example, our group woke up to severe rain. Rather than having us wait around the pro shop indefinitely, an enterprising pro shop attendant took my cell phone number, sent us off to breakfast, and called me after he was able to sort out the revised tee sheet.
4. Should I take a cart or caddie?
The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a very walkable course, and I recommend doing so if at all possible.
What makes it a difficult decision for some people is that there's no extra charge for a cart; it's included with your green fee.
If you decide to ride, a forecaddie for your group will be assigned, too (suggested gratuity starts at $20 per player), but take note: you can opt out of this latter service. Few people realize this.
The other option is a caddie. Double and single bag-toting caddies cost $100 and $130 per player, respectively, plus tip.
5. Should I stay at the Sawgrass Marriott?
While you're no longer required to stay at the Sawgrass Marriott to play at TPC Sawgrass, here's why you might want to do it anyway.
First of all, The Sawgrass Marriott, which formerly seemed less like a golf resort and more like a golfer's dorm, is nearing completion of a comprehensive, $25 million renovation.
Second, while anyone can make reservations at TPC Sawgrass within 14 days of their desired date of play, guests of the Sawgrass Marriott can book much farther in advance.
Third, because the Sawgrass Marriott is affiliated with the TPC Sawgrass, it can offer excellent golf packages (see tip #1).
6. Any recommendations on where to eat?
The clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass is spectacular and some think its food and happy hour specials are great. "Off campus," (but just across the street) try the Aqua Grill. It has great menus in its lively, fun bar and its well-serviced restaurant, which usually includes the oversight of its owner. If you have a craving for pizza, Al's is your best bet in Ponte Vedra Beach. It spins out New York-style and gourmet pies.
7. What's the best way to travel to TPC Sawgrass?
If you're flying in, aim for Jacksonville International Airport (code: JAX), about 40 minutes from TPC Sawgrass. The airport serves more than 30 cities, making it easier to get to than you might otherwise think.
What are your favorite TPC Sawgrass tips, recommendations and memories? Be sure to share them with us in the comments!