The 2022 edition of the Players Championship provided us with another brutal reminder of why the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is arguably the best hole in golf. Indeed, measuring just 135 yards, most players could reach this target with a half-hearted swing of a wedge but because the green is surrounded by water, a golfer’s mind goes into overdrive as a list of all the possible permutations bombards the thought process. Simply put, the results of the subsequent psychological implosion are quite extraordinary and provide golf enthusiasts with some of the best annual entertainment seen on the PGA Tour.
Furthermore, the 17th hole cares very little about reputation and will chew you up and spit you out even if you’re just slightly off. Ask Brooks Koepka who recorded a double and then a triple bogey on the 17th during the first two rounds at the 2022 Players Championship which took his personal record on the infamous island hole to +20 in his career.
These are truly astonishing numbers for Koepka, which was surely good news for fans who placed an online bet during the tournament. The prior analysis predicted that the four-time major winner would come close at Augusta National in early spring to win a prestigious green jacket.
Although it should be said that Koepka isn’t alone in his struggles on the hole as the PGA Tour estimates that over 100,000 balls are hit into the water that surrounds the 17th green every year. Naturally, members and their guests contribute towards the lion’s share of this astounding figure but it does go to show how much the mind of a golfer suffers when any sort of water is put into the equation.
Credit must, however, go to the players who have tamed the hole as there have been ten holes in one achieved since the tournament moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982. Now, whilst ten may seem like a lot, it’s a relatively small amount when you consider how good professional golfers are and how frighteningly short this hole is. By contrast, the iconic Riviera Country Club has seen 37 holes in one since 1983 during the playing of the Genesis Invitational. Additionally, there have been 33 holes in one at Augusta National throughout the Masters’ history which provides a telling example of just how much danger lurks on the penultimate hole at TPC Sawgrass.
With this in mind, you would have to conclude that the risk versus reward ratio is far from even as the jeopardy that the 17th offers far outweighs any potential benefit that golfers may have received by the time they walk off the green.
Essentially, this is what golf fans want when watching a competition and is ultimately why the 17th at TPC Sawgrass is the most thrilling hole in the world of professional golf. Long may the carnage continue.