TPC Sawgrass once against plays host to The Players Championship this week, but defending champion Jason Day will be returning to a slightly different course than where he completed his wire-to-wire victory in 2016.
The changes to the 7,189 yard Par 72 began almost immediately from the moment Day lifted the trophy last year, and will now hope to present an even greater experience this week with re-surfaced greens, new bunkers and new water hazards.
The most notable change to TPC Sawgrass is the redesigned 12th hole, in a huge undertaking of course changes completed by architect Steve Wenzloff. Before the hole was altered it was a short, dog-leg-left par four where players would take either a 2-iron or 3-wood and then pitch on to the green. Now, the 12th has become a drivable par-4 with a huge risk/reward opportunity - and World No.3 Jason Day is a fan.
Day said: “It’s going to be a very good risk/reward hole, especially strategically placed”
“Its not an easy, driveable par-four – you really need to make sure that if you are going to miss it right you’ve really got to miss it in the correct position."
The rough and mounds on the left hand side have been replaced by a long stretching bunker that requires a 255 yard carry, and is protected by a green and fairway that slopes down towards a new large water hazard that lies left of the bunker and green. The miss is right, but with the sloping fairway and three pot bunkers to the side of the green, players will really have to calculate whether going for it is worth the risk.
In addition to the water hazard at the 12th, a further addition of a square lake was made between the adjacent and opposite-facing 6th and 7th holes - replacing a large mound that was previously used by spectators.
"We now have two beautiful golf holes linked by a lovely body of water," Wenzloff told Golf Digest.
"The scale of the space has changed immensely. The seventh tee has been moved back and realigned. Before, that 27-yard-wide fairway was 50 percent of what you could see off the tee, so it was easier to focus on the tee shot. Now it's maybe 10 percent of the view. It looks very narrow. Players could be distracted by the panoramic lake."
The third most dramatic change was the upgrade of the practice facility to help players prepare for the challenge of TPC Sawgrass, but there are several other differences around the course that players will encounter.
Every single one of the greens at TPC Sawgrass have been rebuilt and resurfaced with a harder strain of Bermuda grass that is said to be able to withstand both Florida's hot summers and the chill of winter. The greens had last been re-laid with Bermuda grass in 2006, but were replaced with the newest grain as tour officials felt it was no longer performing.
In its original construction, The Stadium Course' architect Pete Dye said he wanted the course to “bring out all the shots of these great players." He was told PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman that he was to create a course that won't favour a single style of play and must require players to executive a variety of shots.
The changes Wenzloff have made to The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass stay true to that original goal.