05.10.17 | Kevin W.

The Course 

The venue this week is the infamous Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass designed in 1980 by Pete Dye. The course that will grace TV screens for nearly 90 hours this week will look a little different than it has for the past 37 years. The course is set up to play this week at 7,245 yards to a par of 72. The scoring record is held by five men at 63: Fred Couples ('92), Greg Norman ('94), Robert Castro ('13), Martin Kaymer ('14), Colt Knost ('16). The tournament aggregate record includes Norman's low round is a twenty-four under par 264. The signature hole of the stadium course is obviously the world's most famous par-three #17. It is a short one by PGA Tour standards coming in under 140-yards on average but the island green creates mind games that can rattle even the most seasoned of tour vets, just ask Sergio. The biggest change that fans will notice this year is the new 12th hole designed by Steve Wenzloff who got Dye's blessing though it is not his favorite as he thinks that diveable par-fours are just long par-threes and he thinks that, "It slows down play...and play is already too slow." Personally, though I like it and think that it will be an interesting hole to watch and see what players choose to do this week.

Old vs New

Old vs New

The Super

Jeff Plotts is the director of golf course operations at TPC Sawgrass and has been in this position for two years now. Plotts is an alum of the University of Georgia where he earned a degree in Environmental Science and Horticulture, he is a member of the class of '89. He got his first super job back in 1992 at The Champions Club and since then he has worked his way through some of the game's best course including another course with a famous par-three, TPC Scottsdale. TPC Scottsdale was Plotts' previous stop and he was there for nearly a decade before heading to Sawgrass. Important members of Plotts' team include Lucas Andrews ( Golf course superintendent | Dye's Valley Course), Spencer Cox (Asst. Super), Kyle Worthy (Asst. Super), Mark Sanford (Equipment Manager), Todd Fonda (Horticulturist), Cal Roth, Sr. (VP of Agronomy PGA Tour). Good luck this week to the entire crew and army of volunteers helping out including these guys.

The guys who are mowing #17 this week. (Pic: @nathwat_golf)

The guys who are mowing #17 this week. (Pic: @nathwat_golf)

The Grass 

Tees | Celebration bermudagrass | .275" | 1,800 sq. ft.

Fairways | Celebration bermudagrass | .350" | 26 acres

Greens | Tifeagle* | .100" | 5,000 sq. ft. | 13 ft. Stimpmeter

*The Tifeagle replaces the MiniVerdu ultradwarf bermudgrass that was installed in 2006. The Tifeagle is better suited to the north Florida climate, the previous grass caused problems last year when come greens were closed for early practice rounds. If The Players is ever moved back to March the greens will need to be overseeded.

Rough | 419 bermudagrass | 2.5" | 120 acres

Water Source | Reclaimed

Other: 75 bunkers | 15 water hazards | Sandy loam soil | 220 total acres

The Tournament

Defending champion Jason Day with the crystal.

Defending champion Jason Day with the crystal.

The Players is often described as golf's fifth major, and that has been pushed hard in recent years. the results of this promotion has turned an average tournament into an event that gets more than double the coverage of a normal even on network television. The event was debuted back in 1974 it was not played at the Stadium Course until 1982 where it found a permanent home. The Players also was originally played before the Masters until a decade ago when it was moved to the second weekend of May, and it typically has Sunday conclusion that falls on Mother's Day. 

The reward for winning The Players is big with a winner's share of $1.89 million which is 18% of the $10.5 million dollar purse. That purse is the largest attached to tournament golf. Non-monetary awards include 80 WGR points, a five-year PGA Tour exemption, a three-year exemption to the Maters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship, and an exemption to the year's PGA Championship. The winner earns 600 FedEx Cup points as well.

The Favorites

Honestly this week I do not know who to choose there are so many good players in the field and every week it seems like someone gets their first win so this week I picked some of the more interesting prop bets that are out there.

Hole #17 Props

Over/Under: How many tee shots will find the water at #17 this week? 38.5 (Round 4: 6.5)

Since 2003 the low is 28 (2014) and high is 93 (2007).

Will there be a hole-in-one on the 17th hole? Yes +350 | No -500

There have been 7 aces since 2003, the latest came last year from Willie Wilcox.

Will Phil Mickelson hit a tee shot in the water? Yes +400 | No -600

Will Jason Day hit a tee shot in the water? Yes +700 | No -1,800

Will Dustin Johnson hit a tee shot in the water? Yes +400 | No -600

Will Jordan Spieth hit a tee shot in the water? Yes +600 | No -1,400

I wonder what the odds of that shot were.

The Weather

Thursday | 95/68 F | Partly Cloudy | 11 mph | 35% humidity

Friday | 91/68 F | Partly Cloudy | 15 mph | 41% humidity

Saturday | 84/67 F | Isolated Thunderstorms | 18 mph | 58% humidity | 30% rain

Sunday | 81/65 F | Mostly Sunny | 14 mph | 63% humidity | 20% rain

The Coverage

Thursday & Friday | 1:00 - 7:00 | Golf Channel

Saturday & Sunday | 2:00 - TBD | NBC