Great Holes in Golf: The 16th at TPC Sawgrass

Courses and Travel

Architect Tom Mackenzie talks about the 523-yard par 5 at TPC Sawgrass

The closing stretch at TPC Sawgrass is so full of drama. Water sits right of the 16th, surrounds the island 17th green and lurks all along the left on the 18th.

Pete Dye designed the course and wherever possible he likes to finish his courses with a formulaic reachable par 5, par 3 and long par-4 finish.

And at Sawgrass, he wanted to create maximum excitement, which he certainly achieved. With water right, island green and then water left, it is a beautifully balanced finish and that is one of the things that great courses have in common and that course architects are always trying to achieve.

The 16th at TPC Sawgrass

How much water is OK?

Water is a harsh hazard that usually results in a lost ball so is it good to have it to the right of a green or fairway? As ever, there is no simple answer.

Golfers have long been attracted by water features since Augusta first came onto our television screens and, to a point, they love the excitement that water brings.

Too much of it, however, and it soon becomes tedious. The strength of the design at Sawgrass is that any waywardness will find the water, so it is not just the poorer players who are punished.

If better players rarely go in the water and poorer players are relentlessly punished, then the balance is wrong.

One final point – most balls that go in the water are lost so it speeds play up compared to knee-deep rough.

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