Preparations are well underway at TPC Sawgrass to ensure ideal tournament conditions for THE PLAYERS 2019, as the entire property was overseeded with rye grass in late October, and the course closed to the public until Nov. 21.
The 2019 tournament marks the return of THE PLAYERS Championship to the month of March for the first time since 2006. The recent wall-to-wall rye overseed of the greens, tees, fairway and rough will ensure ideal tournament conditions and allow the course to recover much more quickly from inclement weather, if necessary.
In addition, the build out has already begun for all hospitality areas, fan bleachers and infrastructure on tournament grounds.
“Our priority is to continuously elevate all areas of the event in order to ensure THE PLAYERS stands as one of the premier sporting events in the world,” Executive Director Jared Rice said. “The most recent advancements at TPC Sawgrass speak to this tournament’s commitment to providing the very best experience for players, fans, sponsors and community partners.”
The overseeding of all 18 holes on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course took five days and involved four kinds of seed, including Rye/Fine Fescue on the fairways and rough Velvet Bent/Poa Trivialis on the greens. The agronomy team will transition the grass back to Bermuda at the end of May.
“Our Bermuda grass base will not be fully growing by the time of the tournament, so overseeding the golf course gives us the best advantage to have actively growing turf to help produce the best championship playing surfaces possible,” said Jeff Plotts, director of golf course operations at TPC Sawgrass. “Divots and ball marks will recover quicker, and the rye grass will handle foot traffic better than Bermuda grass on its own. When you look at the changes and improvements that have been made to the course since 2006, the last time the tournament was hosted in March, the entire facility has been enhanced literally from the ground up. TPC Sawgrass will be challenging, modernized and fully-prepared to host the best players in the world with its new March date.”
For many players in the 2019 field, the experience at TPC Sawgrass in March will be a new one. Of the 144 players on the 2018 field, only 26 (18 percent) played the tournament when it was held that month.
“Obviously I enjoyed it, being in that March date, having won it there,” THE PLAYERS 2004 champion Adam Scott said. “I think we're going to see it test us just a little bit more, require that precision off the tee to get it in the fairway, so that we can hit to some of those small targets.”
These changes will complement several improvements that have taken place through the years. Prior to THE PLAYERS 2007, the course underwent a significant renovation that included sand-capping all fairways and installing sub-air irrigation control systems under all green surfaces.
“You look at the players, and it's the best field we've played all year, and obviously you're on a golf course that tests every player,” THE PLAYERS 2015 champion Rickie Fowler said. “It doesn't necessarily favor a long hitter over a short hitter. You've got to hit all kinds of golf shots, so it will be interesting to see how the course will play differently. I'm assuming it'll probably play a little longer. It won't be as dried out. But it will be fun. I think it'll be definitely a different test.”
Significant enhancements took place immediately after THE PLAYERS 2016, when the entire infrastructure was revamped to ensure the entire experience — from arrival to departure —was the best on TOUR.
• Re-built and re-grassed greens with Tiff-Eagle Bermuda grass to provide the best possible putting surface for players.
• Installation of a Precision-Air system under every green to give the maintenance staff better control of the course and allow the course to recover quicker from changes in weather.
• Redesign of holes 6 and 7 to provide a front-nine destination for fans that is more connected to the action surrounding the clubhouse.
• Redesign of holes 11, 12 and 13 to enhance the excitement early on the back nine and anchor a new spectator and sponsor experience on-course.
• New practice grounds area that included expansion by 30 percent, adding targets that mimic course conditions.
• New clubhouse entryway to provide a better view of the clubhouse and create a true, compelling sense of arrival.
In addition to the course improvements, the 77,000-square-foot clubhouse that was completed in just 13 months prior to the start of the 2007 tournament continues to showcase THE PLAYERS’ premier stature on the golf calendar. The Mediterranean revival-style clubhouse and centerpiece of TPC Sawgrass is twice as large as the previous clubhouse and is a virtual museum for the history of THE PLAYERS while serving as the host for fans, partners and players alike.
Additional information about THE PLAYERS is available at THEPLAYERS.com.