PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Addition by subtraction is not always easy to pull off, but give the PGA Tour credit for doing just that here at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
For this year’s Players Championship, players and spectators will see something different when they come to the heralded 18th hole: Open space.
And not just any open space, either. They’re calling it “The Bluff” – rolling hills of green grass around the 18th green that will afford spectators a far different viewing perspective than has been the norm. For years, a massive grandstand had framed the 18th green, but that is now gone.
“It’s a little more open, feels a little like Augusta,” Jason Dufner said after playing the 18th hole in a quiet practice round. “I kind of like it, but you do lose a little of the depth perception that you have when the grandstands were up.”
Then turning to his right and casting a look up toward the spectacular clubhouse, Dufner laughed. “Plus (the new look) gives a better view of the clubhouse that cost a billion dollars.”
How much that played into the thinking is anyone’s guess, but the removal of the grandstands does allow fans to get closer to the action. The first 200 spectators who arrive each day will receive a free chair and can stake out their spot. A wait staff will be serving food and drinks.
One hugely positive move to the subtraction of the grandstands is the way people will be able to now walk down the right side of 18 and not hit a detour when they get near the green. Before they would have had to have stopped and watched the action from a hundred yards away, or climbed into the grandstands, now they’ll be able to continue their walk and be close to the green.
Now, if they can only remove all that water surrounding the 17th green.