Unlucky 17: Famous hole still rules Stadium Course

The famed 17th at TPC Sawgrass just may be the most recognizable golf hole in the world. Known simply as the island green, despite the fact it is actually a peninsula, the par 3 measures just 137 yards.

What it lacks in size, it makes up for in difficulty.

Course officials estimate more than 100,000 balls are retrieved from the surrounding water each year.

What makes such a short shot so difficult? The most obvious reason is the small target area. The island is made up of an undulating, 78-foot green with a small bunker in front. The rest is all water. Wind is another issue, thanks to the hole’s location among a canyon of trees.

17 Sawgrass

Unlucky 17 is the face of the PGA Tour’s showcase tournament – the Players Championship, which is being played this weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Even the world’s best golfers are humbled.

In Thursday’s opening round, 18 players found water playing the hole. Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera found it three times. The world’s top ranked player, Rory McIlroy, got wet as well. Defending champion K.J. Choi ended up in the drink, too.

The worst year was 2007 when 50 balls splashed in the first round of the tournament.

The funny thing is, the legendary hole was actually created by accident.

The original design was supposed to be a simple par 3 only partially surrounded by a lake. But the soil surrounding the hole was loaded with sand, which architect Pete Dye and other course builders used for other parts of the course. By the time the course was near completion, a large crater was left surrounding No. 17. Pete’s wife Alice suggested filling it with water. Pete hated the idea at first but eventually agreed, creating one of the most recognizable holes in the world.


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