How hard is TPC Sawgrass? Arccos Knows.
PLAYERS Championship, Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass Challenges the World’s Best Golfers, Arccos Users on Different Levels and Holes
Several courses on the PGA Tour are readily accessible by the general golfing public: Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale and Torrey Pines South Course, to name a few.
With its iconic island green on the par-3 17th hole, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, might be the most recognisable, and downright difficult, of them all.
The PLAYERS Championship is contested over this vaunted Pete Dye design that thousands of amateur and recreational golfers play annually to benchmark their games against the TOUR’s best.
In 2020, officials made the call to cancel the tournament after the first round due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Which has only fuelled the excitement for this year!
As it turns out, that includes over 800 rounds completed by Arccos users. And the Stadium Course attracts a fairly accomplished Arccos player, with an average handicap of 10 and score of 90.
All things considered, Arccos users have acquitted themselves remarkably well. Those considerations being:
- The Stadium Course is the late Pete (and Alice Dye) at their absolute “hard par, easy bogey” architectural best. Many consider it Dye’s third toughest track behind the Ocean Course and PGA West Stadium Course.
- The Blue (6,670 yards) and Blended (6,406) tees most low to mid-handicappers play from have formidable slope ratings of 149 and 147, respectively. Slope is a measurement is the difficulty of a golf course for bogey golfers relative to the course rating.
The average for U.S. courses is around 120, so a rating in the high 140s is, as the kids say these days, “extra.”
The course ratings from the Blue and Blended tees are 73.3 and 72, respectively. A such, Arccos users with 10 handicaps should theoretically score between 82 and 89.3.
So those 90s are looking solid.
How about the TOUR players? How do they fare?
The tournament field plays from the PLAYERS tees, which measure 7,245 yards with a slope of 155 and course rating of 76.2. With fast and firm playing conditions, and all the pressure that comes with tournament golf, the best players in the world average a half to three-quarters of a stroke over 72, per round.
While TOUR players shooting slightly over par doesn’t sound all that devastating, consider this: at the 2019 PLAYERS Championship, the number of bogeys, double bogeys and “other” scores through all four rounds was well over 1,200.
Stadium Course Drill-Down on No. 17
When you unpack the hole-by-hole data, however, the difference between which holes frustrate the pros and which beguile the average golfer is fascinating.
Take the 17th, for example. For Arccos users, it plays as the most difficult hole overall and is the toughest approach shot and putting hole on the course.
For TOUR players, who averaged par on the hole in 2019, it was the 12th hardest. Since 2003, the famous one-shotter’s stroke average is 3.11, making it the eighth toughest.
Using either average (2019, or the last 18 years) it’s a big swing considering the difference between the Blue and Blended and the PLAYERS tees is only nine yards.
The Arccos Caddie Rangefinder Factor
Nerves are obviously a huge factor in this disparity. But using the new Arccos Caddie Rangefinder, which factors in wind, humidity, (geographic) slope, altitude and user data, Arccos users are armed with more information than ever for club selection.
Wind speed and direction have the biggest impact on how golfers play and score on No. 17. In March 2019, the average wind speed on the Stadium Course was 9.32 mph with gusts averaging 13 mph. Also in March, the prevailing wind is out of the north. The tee shot on No. 17 is south to north, often into the wind.
As John Cook eluded to on an episode of Golf Channel’s Morning Drive last year, TOUR players who used to hit a wedge when the PLAYERS was held in May might hit a 7- or 8-iron in March. Robert Damron added that golfers will face shots with every wind direction over the finishing stretch of 16-18.
Arccos Caddie Rangefinder can solve for that.
For example, No. 17 data from a recent round at the Stadium Course shows a tailwind of 7 mph, slope of plus-two feet, temperature of 76 degrees, humidity of 60% and altitude of -109 feet versus the user’s home course.
The GPS yardage reads 131, but the resulting Arccos Caddie number is 124, indicating this player (who averages 136 yards with a pitching wedge and 115 yards with a 52-degree wedge) should hit a 3/4 pitching wedge.
Arccos Pro Tip: Preview Caddie
Arccos users who have logged at least five rounds have access to the “Preview Caddie” and can use the App to see how they’d play the Stadium Course before venturing to Ponte Vedra Beach. Or, to simply have a little fun while watching the PLAYERS from the comfort of their living room (maybe by next year we can be watching together in sports bars!).
Simply open the App, search for the course (download if you’d like), tap “Preview Caddie” in the bottom left of the screen and enjoy.