How Amateur Golfers Fare on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass
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How Amateur Golfers Fare on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass

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How Amateur Golfers Fare on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass

With The Players Championship taking place at TPC Sawgrass this week, we thought we would take a look at how amateurs fare when we tackle the infamous island green.

Arguably one of golf’s most iconic holes, the par-3 17th typically plays 120 to 130 yards (give or take). Every year, we see the good, the bad and the ugly on a seemingly innocuous hole where often the tournament is won or lost.

What about amateur golfers? How do the rest of us do?

Can #17 really be that hard?

To answer that question, the team at Shot Scope has pulled stats from their database of more than 350 million shots to give us insight into how average joes fare in their quest to hit and stick on the island green.

Firstly, we look at the chances of hitting the green from 125 yards.

In addition to Performance Tracking, Shot Scope offers Rangefinders and GPS Watches.

Immediately we see that most of us will likely be either reloading on the tee box or making a trip to the drop zone. 

Even the five-handicap golfers have only a 50/50 chance of finding dry land.

We have seen PGA Tour players hit consecutive balls into the water, and they do this for a living. Imagine the pressure amateurs must feel knowing they have one shot.

When we look at the higher handicap players, with a 1-in-4 or 1-in-5 chance of hitting the green, it could very quickly become an expensive day if using premium balls! (Although if you can afford Sawgrass’s outrageous green fee, it may not be an issue.)

Shot Dispersion on #17

In terms of proximity, with the green measuring approximately 98 feet from left to right, again we are going to have our work cut out.

Remember that this proximity is from the target (the pin) to the ball and so, when we create our proximity circles, the true picture is revealed.

For example, with the five-handicap golfer, we must consider that the player could finish anywhere within a 49-foot radius which, when we complete our proximity circle, grows to 98 feet.

As you can see, a good bit of that area is is over the water.

This basically means even the low single-digit players will do well just to hit the green.

So what happens when we visit the drop zone?

From the drop zone, the hole plays approximately 75 to 100 yards, depending on the day.

As you’d expect, better players have a greater chance of hitting the green. However, when the course is set up the way it is for The Players Championship, we would expect the likelihood of hitting and holding the green to drop.

Want personalized stats like this for your own game? There’s no annual fee to use Shot Scope’s Performance Tracking System

Regardless, we can see from the numbers above that, in terms of proximity, the majority of amateurs will likely struggle to find the putting surface even when playing from the drop zone.

Ignoring the numbers here, the caliber of shot required to hold the 17th green is ridiculous. It has been said by some that a reload from the tee is easier than playing from the drop zone. 

Choosing the option to re-tee would somewhat contradict what we have learned from performance data which typically suggests that closer to the green is always better.

That said, the 17th at Sawgrass is far from your typical hole.

And with that, we await the first player to tee it up at the island green.

Shot Scope is the Official On-Course Data Provider of MyGolfSpy.

Start tracking your game today.

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Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





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      Eugene Gallacher

      2 months ago

      Got to play here god must have been ‘97. Chunked a PW into the water, reloaded and made 4. The pin was middle, the wind was benign, just so much water everywhere. I mean it was an easy wedge, just got in my head. But hey ecstatic with the 4, but let’s not talk about the rest of the round. 18th I think is a scarier tee shot, especially for my left miss and yes it hit the drink. One off the bucket list to play it, especially from someone over the pond.

      Reply

      Tom Lassar

      2 months ago

      2 rounds: day 1-mid pin–pured tee shot to 6 ft and missed rt. to lt. breaking birdie putt low => par. My bad. day 2-MUCH tougher back far right pin behind trap–knocked my tee shot just over pin long (deep ball mark visible), but failed to hold green and washed ball. Re-tee from drop zone found middle of green, 2 putts =>double ! Both shots hit well in spite of being very nervous. Day 1 Gallery of about 20 watching (on a complementary tour offered to guests by TPC) compounded my nerves, but rewarded me with loud applause on 17, and again after I nuked a perfect tee shot on #18 ! Left happy–had dreamed about #17 tee shot (mostly nightmares) for 4 months after booking rounds.

      Reply

      ChristianR

      2 months ago

      I’ve seen the videos on socials and looks like most of those “amateurs” have never swung a club before…

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      2 months ago

      Literally don’t need this report. Everybody knows how amateurs play.
      Besides – it’s not like the Amateurs are playing in the same conditions, under the pressure, in front of the crowd during the tournament.
      None of this correlates to anything other than it’s just another golf hole to be played for everybody

      Reply

      JLS

      2 months ago

      I’ve never played TPC Sawgrass but if I ever do, I’m aiming center of the green at #17.

      Reply

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