17th at Sawgrass – Yorkshire style!
With the Players Championship taking centre stage this week, Dave Tindall tried his luck on Sawgrass’ famous 17th. Well, sort of.
I’ve just walked off the previous hole with a steady par but inbetween shots all i’ve been thinking about is the tee-shot ahead.
I arrive at the tee and throw a few strands of grass into the air. It confirms that the wind is left-to-right. The pin is front right so that’s okay.
But it’s hard not to get all that water surrounding the green out of my head. Anything short, long, left or right will cause a splash and although the card says it’s just 137 yards it appears much longer.
Yes, I’m about to play the 17th at Sawgrass.
Well, not quite. Instead of hopping on a plane to Florida I’ve jumped in the car and taken a 25-minute ride to Rudding Park in North Yorkshire.
Part of the excellent facilites there is the par three Repton Short Course which features replicas of six iconic holes from around the world.
So after negotiating holes from Wentworth, Augusta, Sunningdale and St Andrews, I’ve arrived at the penultimate hole – the 17th at Sawgrass.
While not an exact reproduction – the green is swivelled around to provide a longer and deeper putting surface to catch more balls – the philosophy of the hole is replicated. It plays tricks with your mind and is a potential round wrecker.
With the hole playing 137 yards to the middle and thankfully, on this occasion, not into the wind I choose eight iron.
After a deep breath and a little bit of extra time over the ball to make sure I’m fully set I swing hard and watch. In the air it looks okay and certainly enough club but then I suddenly realise that there’s water over the back too.
The ball lands long and left of the flag but takes a firm bounce and disappears out of site.
Am I in the drink?
Luckily for me the narrow funnelled walkway onto the green is over the back left of the putting surface at Rudding and my ball has run 15 feet along it. I didn’t know that until I got there so, by way of fluke, I’ve stayed on dry land.
The chip back across the green has to go over some humps and hollows and, of course, too much juice and you’re off the other side and into the water.
I play quite an aggressive second which runs down the green – all 90 feet of it – and into the fringe and then I just miss with a little chip for par.
Still, a bogey is no disgrace and, at my level, equates to a net par three.
And I bet if you ask anyone playing the real 17th at Sawgrass this week, you could sell them that on the tee every time.
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