Is the criticism of the iconic par-3 17th getting out of hand?


The debate surrounding the home of the Players’ iconic island green one-shotter has once again reared its ugly head. Steve Carroll and Alex Perry weigh in

The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most divisive holes in golf. You only need to spend 10 minutes flicking though social media during Players week to know that. But does the criticism get a little out of hand? Two of our writers have their say…

‘It’s the reason people pay big money to play TPC Sawgrass’

Can we have anything now that doesn’t turn into a massive moan? Those poor pros, writes Steve Carroll, their ball keeps going in the water. Oh dear, there’s a bit of wind. It’s too hard. Boo freaking hoo.

Let me get the violin out. Look. Is the 17th the best hole on the planet? No. Is it a hole you absolutely want to take on yourself – regardless of the conditions? Yes.

I know this because – cue humble brag – I have played Sawgrass and its iconic par-3. On a frigid February evening where I could barely get a 6-iron to travel 140.

Did that matter a jot? You better believe it did not.

You spend the whole day at Sawgrass, and all the way round, thinking about what you’re going to do when you reach that island green.

Your caddie tells you as you’re walking down 16 that it’s going to take an age getting through the next – because everyone’s going through their bag full of balls, even hitting shots Happy Gilmore-style, as they drink it in.

That hole is the reason why Sawgrass can charge hundreds of dollars for a green fee. No one is going there to play the 4th.

Would you want to do this every week? Absolutely not. Is it a great one-off? You bet. It’s a fantastic experience and one that – even three years after the fact – I think about with great fondness.

And I hit three balls into the drink.

‘It’s nice to be reminded that the best in the world are human after all’

It always intrigues me how these little debates come around each year, writes Alex Perry. One year we all love it, the next we all hate it.

This year we hate it because those who make millions from this glorious game of ours had to take it on in the face of a little breeze.

Spoiler alert: Playing a 6-iron into a 140-yard hole is perfectly normal.

“It should be on the front nine!” they thumb angrily into their phones. No, it shouldn’t. Part of the genius of that hole is where it is.

Look at Scott Piercy this week. He was 2-under on the 17th tee. By the time he walked to the final hole he was 2-over, bumping the cut line and making a lot of people a lot of cash. (They’re probably OK with 17.)

Like many, I watch golf – or, indeed, any top-level sport – to be mesmerised by the magicians that do it for a living.

But every now and then it’s nice to be reminded that they are human after all, whether it’s sticking a couple of balls in the drink at HQ, or Tyrrell Hatton cursing out the whole of Florida over a lipped putt.

What do you think about the 17th at TPC Sawgrass? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.

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