Rory McIlroy put notions that Jordan Spieth was about to supplant him as the best player in the world to bed with a commanding march through the WGC - Cadillac Match Play field last weekend in San Francisco. Will he keep the momentum going at yet another heralded, public-accessible track this week?
The PLAYERS Championship
Where? TPC Sawgrass (PLAYERS Stadium Course)
The Pete Dye-designed PLAYERS Stadium Course probably needs less of an introduction than any PGA Tour stop not named Augusta or Pebble Beach, and part of that is owed to the fact that the course's primary reason for being is to test the best players in the world. That it also serves as the centerpiece of a golf resort is, frankly, secondary.
Not that that should be seen as a strike against the course. Indeed, it is the quintessential "professional golf experience" course, providing as stern a test as possible to visitors and the Tour. Its closing trio of holes, anchored by the famous island-green par-3 17th, is the stuff golf dreams (and nightmares) are made of.
The PLAYERS Stadium Course's rankings (#47 on Golf Digest's "America's 100 Greatest Courses" and #31 on GOLF Magazine's "Top 100" lists) speak for themselves, and we wouldn't argue. Given its history and architectural pedigree, it is justified in its status as a pilgrimage site for the traveling golfer. The golf-only green fees can top $500 for a round when caddies or forecaddies are considered, but if you stay on-site at the Sawgrass Marriott and play the course as part of a vacation package, the costs become substantially more reasonable.
Do keep in mind that while we are fond of recommending shoulder-season visits to many top-end resort courses for the sake of keeping costs down, we would recommend against that strategy with regard to Sawgrass, due to the maintenance that takes place during large chunks of the year in order to ready the course for the PLAYERS Championship each May.
The PLAYERS Stadium Course is one of two at TPC Sawgrass, as you probably know. Its sister layout, the Dye's Valley Course, is very strong in its own right, and perhaps even underrated by virtue of the large shadow its sibling casts. Indeed, Dye's Valley serves as the site of the Web.com Tour Championship, so it has its own deepening tournament pedigree.
Off-site, if you want to counterbalance the modern design at TPC Sawgrass with more classic sensibilities, we recommend Ponte Vedra Inn & Club's 36 holes, particularly the Ocean Course, originally designed in 1928 by Herbert Strong.