TPC Sawgrass Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
On a 415-acre tract of swampland in northeast Florida, the history of golf would be altered forever. On that site, ground was broken for what would become THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Opening in 1980, THE PLAYERS Stadium was built to challenge the pros like no other golf course had done before, while providing an unprecedented experience for spectators at the same time. Renowned architect Pete Dye began to scribble on a placemat drawing out the makings of a course. The rest is history.
No one had ever seen anything like TPC Sawgrass when it opened in 1980. Brainchild of Commissioner Deane Beman, and designed by Pete Dye, it was a course that left players wide-eyed with wonder. They found contoured fairways, confounding angles, and a par-3 island green that would arguably become the signature hole for the entire sport TPC Sawgrass and Beman’s concept of STADIUM GOLF set the standard for all the clubs in the TPC Network that would follow – and raised the bar for all courses worldwide.
Beman first approached the owner of Sawgrass Country Club, the Arvida Corporation, and offered to buy its facility. Not only did Arvida not want to sell, it didn’t believe that Beman would ever get financing or approval to buy a facility. Arvida Chairman Charles Cobb even proposed a $100 “business sportsmanship” bet to Beman that he could never achieve his dream. Beman sought other options to stay in Ponte Vedra Beach.
He soon found allies in Jerome and Paul Fletcher, major landowners in the area. They believed in the dream so much that they eventually sold 415 acres of wooded wetlands and swamp to the PGA TOUR for $1. A formal ceremony to begin construction was held on the heavily wooded site. To mark the occasion, Beman hit a ceremonial “first shot.” Not so happy with the result, Beman decided to take a mulligan and promptly hit another – the Tournament Players Club’s first mulligan. With the club finally built about to officially open, Beman received a special plaque marking the occasion in March 1980. It showcased a $100 bill, which is on display in the clubhouse with this inscription, “To Deane Beman, the man who did what we said couldn’t be done. From Chuck Cobb and his associates at Arvida, who bet on the difficulty of the task, not on the capability of the man doing the task.”
The creation of TPC Sawgrass as host to THE PLAYERS was based on several unique concepts:
- It would be the permanent home of THE PLAYERS, and it would be the flagship of the PGA TOUR.
- The course and surrounding areas would be built with spectators in mind, designed and built to improve the overall on-site fan experience.
- Prior to the construction of the Stadium Course, nearly all of the great tournaments were played at private clubs where the average fan rarely had a chance to play. The Stadium Course would be a course of great design and character that would be accessible to all golf fans.
Now, 40 years later, Pete Dye’s masterpiece serves to host the strongest field during THE PLAYERS Championship while providing the ultimate bucket-list experience for golfers the other 51 weeks out of the year.
We invite you to celebrate this historic milestone with us in 2020.