Sunday, May 8, 2011

TPC Sawgrass #11

Opened in 1980, TPC Sawgrass was the first of many PGA Tour courses made for ideal fan viewing. I first played the Stadium Course in 2004 and have played it a half dozen times since. It is one of the most penal courses I have ever experienced for your approach shots. There just aren't too many places that you can miss on these shots that give you an easy up and down. The view off some of the tees are confusing, as are many of Pete Dye's other holes in the world. At Sawgrass, it appears that some tees have been cut out and slide over to one side about 30 yards. It creates angles that make you feel uncomfortable off the tee.

I always play the course as far back as allowed, which is usually only around 6700 yds with a slope of 146. No matter how well I think I am playing when I arrive it seems I always walk off the course with my tail between my legs. I can count on one hand the birdies but must admit I have made at least double bogey or worse on every hole. Total cumulative worst score on each hole = 114!! I once shot 38 on the back with an 83, my best score to date.

In 2007, the old FLW style clubhouse was torn down and replaced with what reminds me of a Middle Eastern palace. Now 77,000 square feet with a roof that costs more than most homes do, it is a very impressive sight. At the same time the course was also renovated bringing it back to the fast and firm conditions it was meant to be played for the 2008 event.

Hole #11 is a split fairway reachable Par 5 for big hitters with numerous options on how to play it. Off the tee, you have a large landing area to the right fairway with the only danger being the waste area on the left. Once you get to your drive, the first decision is to go for it or lay up. Personally, the chances of me being able to hold the green with a 3 wood on these firm greens are pretty low. You have water and a larger bunker that wraps around the right and back of the green. So my best case is ending up in the sand with a long bunker shot left.

If the pin is in the back of the green, I will lay up at around 120 yards out to the right fairway; aim at the big tree on the right side with a draw. This gives you a wedge into the green. When the pin is front, I want to hit my approach to the left fairway which is a more difficult shot than laying up to the right fairway. It allows you to hit straight into the pin and eliminates the swale to the left front side of the green. You would need to hit a very precise shot to stay away from it if you are coming in from the right. Get on the green in regulation and you are probably going to make par or better, but miss and you have one of many difficult up and downs. You will be looking at bogey or worse. I was lucky to make one of my few birdies here. If you like holes with many options and different lines of play, #11 will be a real treat for you.

Other notable short holes: #4, #6, #8, #12, #13.

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