• join
  • our-work
  • testimonials-1
  • best-new
  • nobody-tells
  • testimonials-2
  • smartstick-slide

Become an Insider!

7 Things You Must Know Before Playing at TPC Sawgrass

by Craig Better

May132014

<center>The 17th hole is often the highlight of rounds at TPC Sawgrass and Florida golf vacations.</center>

The 17th hole is often the highlight of rounds at TPC Sawgrass and Florida golf vacations.

Unlike some of the private TPC courses played on tour, anyone can play the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass…and I just love that.

You must love it, too, because I always get flooded with questions about playing at TPC Sawgrass as soon as the last putt drops — this year was a little later than most ;)

So, before my inbox fills up even more, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions and a few insider tips you should know if you’d like to play one of the best, most famous, and most recognizable golf courses in the world.

(If you’d like my full review and all my insider tips on visiting TPC Sawgrass, you can get them now in the free guide below.)

1. Is it possible to play TPC Sawgrass at a discount? Yes, the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is expensive. But you can often play it for less than the $400+ high-season (March-June) green fee if you take advantage of specials and discounts that are often made available.

A few winters ago, for instance, I alerted you to one of the most amazing deals I had ever seen (before it was officially made public, I might add).

Whereas a round on the Players Stadium Course alone can cost more than $400, the package I uncovered included three rounds of golf (one on the Players Stadium Course) and three night’s lodging for $387 per person, double occupancy.

Now, I’m not sure if this deal will ever be offered again, and prices have crept back up, but it’s not a bad idea to monitor the TPC website (tpc.com/sawgrass), Twitter feed (@tpcsawgrass) or Sawgass Marriott website (sawgrassmarriott.com) which are often updated with enticing packages.

2. When is the best time to play TPC Sawgrass? It depends if you want the course’s full fury or not. If you take your Florida golf vacation in the winter months, for example, the rough is still largely dormant and the course is more playable. By contrast, playing in spring just before or after the Players Championship is for sadists who favor U.S. Open-style rough.

Keep in mind, the course often closes for a bit after the tournament, and again during the summer for aerification/maintenance. This year, it’s closed July 28-August 1.

3. Is the service commensurate with the price? TPC Sawgrass is not one of those high-profile places that charges you a lot of money, then makes you feel unworthy to be there. The golf staff is particularly friendly and service-minded.

One day, for example, our group woke up to severe rain. Rather than having us wait around the pro shop indefinitely, an enterprising pro shop attendant took my cell phone number, sent us off to breakfast, and called me after he was able to sort out the revised tee sheet.

4. Should I take a cart or caddie? The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a very walkable course, and I recommend doing so if at all possible.

What makes it a difficult decision for some people is that there’s no extra charge for a cart; it’s included with your green fee.

If you decide to ride, a forecaddie for your group will be assigned, too (suggested gratuity starts at $20 per player), but take note: you can opt out of this latter service. Few people realize this.

The other option is a caddie. Double and single bag-toting caddies cost $100 and $130, respectively, plus tip.

There’s another — very clever — option I read about in Golf Odyssey that’s detailed in the free guide below. It combines the best of both worlds and costs less than taking caddies.

5. Should I stay at the Sawgrass Marriott? While you’re no longer required to stay at the Sawgrass Marriott to play at TPC Sawgrass, here’s why you might want to do it anyway.

First of all, The Sawgrass Marriott, which formerly seemed less like a golf resort and more like a golfer’s dorm, is much improved following its renovation.

Second, while anyone can make reservations at TPC Sawgrass within 14 days of their desired date of play, guests of the Sawgrass Marriott can book much farther in advance.

Third, because the Sawgrass Marriott is affiliated with the TPC Sawgrass, it can offer excellent golf packages (see tip #1).

6. Any recommendations on where to eat? The new clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass is spectacular and some think its food and happy hour specials are great. “Off campus,” (but just across the street) try the Aqua Grill. It has great menus in its lively, fun bar and its well-serviced restaurant, which usually includes the oversight of its owner. If you have a craving for pizza, Al’s is your best bet in Ponte Vedra Beach. It spins out New York-style and gourmet pies.

7. What’s the best way to travel to TPC Sawgrass? If you’re flying in, aim for Jacksonville International Airport (code: JAX), about 40 minutes from TPC Sawgrass. The full list of places from which you can fly non-stop to Jacksonville is in the guide below.

Get My Best Tips on Visiting TPC Sawgrass
This FREE guide answers all your questions and includes:
A greens fee chart showing prices by month Get This Free Guide
Little-known ways to get deep discounts
How and when to get prime tee times
The lowdown on carrying, carts and caddies
Nearby private courses you can play
The best time to go and how to get there
The best places to stay and dine
Plus, get access to our weekly travel tips & private sales
Where should I email your FREE guide and handy tips?
Your valid email address Your first name Your zip/postal code
Rest assured, we don’t send spam and your info is never shared with 3rd parties.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan G. May 7, 2013 at 8:00 am

Your Sawgrass advice is right on target. I would add a couple of things–
Dining–there’s a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse just 1/4 mile away and it is great. Also, if you have rented a car, consider Atlantic Beach, which has a quaint little downtown area with some great restaurants. Zagat’s will give you good recommendations.
Marriott–the hotel is now very welcoming. We stayed there ten years ago and again last year and the difference was striking.
Packages–the PGA Tour Experience package is a great way to go. It provides value pricing for hotel and golf and concierge-like booking services. (Note, this is different at Doral, where the Tour Experience package, was much more expensive than booking through the hotel. ((Don’t know what the Donald will do with it.)) )
Caddies–don’t play without at least a forecaddie. These guys are great and very helpful and respectful.
Hole 17, Island Green–not nearly as difficult as it would appear, but 18 is a bear.

2 Steve W. May 7, 2013 at 8:35 am

Thank You GVI. I took your advice last January and played the Valley Course twice in one day with fore caddies and the Stadium Course the next day using and a 2 bagger. It was a great experience. Walked the Stadium. The caddies were great and very helpful with many stories. Staff at the Club house were so nice and no one had there hand out looking for a tip. Specials in the clubhouse dining area were unbelievable. Ate appetizers two nights for dinner at a very low 1/2 price. Beers were cold and inexpensive. Hoping to get a deal next Feb again. Marriott very classy and staff very accommodating. Staff at Club house took us on a tour with history between rounds. I rate the experience up there with my trip to Carnoustie and The Old Course….Thanks again for the sound advice.

3 Keith C. May 7, 2013 at 8:45 am

Didn’t see a mention of the fact that you have to stay at the Marriott in order to play TPC Sawgrass or pay something like another $350 to become an associate member of the PGA. Given that kind of cost, it could be relevant to your otherwise find inside info.

4 Craig Better May 7, 2013 at 9:10 am

Hi Keith — You do not need to be a guest of the Sawgrass Marriott to make tee times on the Stadium Course. Non-guests can book within 14 days. Associate members are bound by the same 14-day limit. Only Charter, Founder, and Regular members can book farther out than that.

5 Matthew B May 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

It is hard to get a decent tee time within 14 days of when you want to play, and you will have to pay full rack rate. Still, the experience is worth it, definitely a “bucket list” destination course. Ask for Marco to be your caddy!

6 Andy A. May 7, 2013 at 9:44 am

Aahh… I forget to say THANKS to GVI for the best tip EVER… Get on the email lists for Resort courses you are interested in playing. The deal mentioned in the article did come around again and although it was now $500 for 3 rounds/3 mights, it was still an unbelievable deal !!!! And just got news of an ridiculously cheap deal on Kiawah Island Ocean course!!!!

7 JB May 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

This article was very helpful. @ Andy A, you should look into deals @ Harbor Town as well. Harbor Town and Kiawah are owned by the same group. I have heard that if you get a PGA tour pro to call TPC, they will give you a huge discount. True?

8 Bob P May 7, 2013 at 9:58 am

I’m a year round resident in the Sawgrass community. For those who haven’t played the course it’s a real treat. Many ways and times of year to play for $200 or less. It’s an exceptional and humbling day. The new clubhouse is unbelievably awesome and the people (like most in the Jacksonville area) are super friendly and hospitable. For those of you looking for a great golf trip location, this is it. There are country clubs (yes country clubs!) that you can play down here for $50 and under including cart that folks elsewhere would charge a fortune for. I spend a week in Myrtle with my college buddies each year but the courses here are better and less than half Myrtle’s price. Aqua Grill is great for dining as are Cafe Andiamo and Palm Valley Fish Camp

9 Cindy Clegg May 7, 2013 at 10:01 am

We are a family from Fife in Scotland coming to Florida end of June and would like to play at Sawgrass Stadium course, one round . Are we staying in a villa in Orlando and would drive up Sawgrass and not sure whether to just play or stay and play at Marriot ? Any info please. Regards Cindy

10 Craig Better May 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

This will depend on a lot of things. For instance, if you’re trying to save on expenses, you probably don’t want to pay for lodging if you’re already paying for a villa in Orlando. TPC Sawgrass is only 2.5 hours from Orlando, so it’s certainly possible to drive up, play, then drive back. Personally, I wouldn’t want to ride in the car that long and stiffen up before playing a “bucket list” course. Likewise, I wouldn’t want to feel rushed afterward because of a long drive ahead — I’d rather relax in the clubhouse (one of the highlights of TPC Sawgrass) after the round and really soak it all in.

11 Ethan Shapiro May 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

Craig,
Awesome post! Quick question. A group of us are considering a golf package to stay at the Marriott and play Stadium Course, Valley Course and the two courses at the World Golf Village. I’ve read some negative reviews of the Marriott on tripadvisor but your post seems to contradict. What’s the real deal? I’ve also read that the property has some pretty run down villas and may be in or have just emerged from bankruptcy. Any truth? We’re considering nearby properties but have been striking out with ones that can arrange for a smooth package with transfers and similar amenities. Any advice?

Thanks,

Ethan

12 Craig Better May 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

Thanks, Ethan. Maybe the best way to characterize it is, “much, much improved, but still with some areas in need of improvement.” On an A,B,C,D,F scale, the notoriously hard-to-please editors of Golf Odyssey gave it a “B” as an overall score. As for the bankruptcy, yes, the property filed for protection in March 2010 and a “plan to emerge” was announced in September 2011, with Goldman Sachs as the owner. I’m sure it’s not true in all cases, but resort bankruptcy — meaning the state of being in bankruptcy — often has little, if any, noticeable effect on the consumer experience. Why the resort went bankrupt in the first place is another story.

13 Scott May 7, 2013 at 11:03 am

I looked on the website and I couldn’t find anything saying golg cart are allowed at the Stadium course. I want to book a tee time, but my golf partner can’t walk the course. Could someone tell me for sure if they offer carts?

thanks
SS

14 jim May 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

The Stadium Course is often ‘Cart Path Only’ and slow playing (5+ hours not unusual). As such, I prefer to walk the course and it may influence your decision as well (notwithstanding the cost differential).

15 Doug Roberts May 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

Stadium allows carts. Have been and would argue that it’s not easier in the winter. The winds blow a tad more. Play 17 into a 25 breeze…..And it’s cooler so the ball doesn’t fly as far. It’s a ton cheaper in the shoulder season too. I seek out tough courses and TPC Stadium is right there with any. It’s a bear.

16 Alan May 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Glad that many people have had good experiences at Sawgrass. Mine was a “I’ll never go back there again”. The Marriott messed-up my reservation, didn’t honor their own rewards certificate and were dumb as stumps when asked why they did what they did. The Stadium course is a bear and would be great to play again now that I know what to do. Which is to say our fore caddy did a great job ignoring 3 golfers in the foursome, to the extent that he didn’t like his tip. The same ambivalence pervaded the golf school, with a teach pro who could have cared less.
So it cost a lot, the staff was annoyed I was there and “I’ll never go back there again”, but I’m glad I’m in the minority.

17 Rob May 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I’ve been going to TPC Sawgrass at least once a year (sometimes 2x a yr) for past 4 years. Friend of mine works for PGA Productions so I get 4 passes each year to use on Valley Course and 4 passes to use on Stadium with some restrictions on when you can play after paying $32 cart fee (June 1 to 9/30 for Stadium). I would not recommend anyone playing the stadium after Father’s Day weekend. I’ve corresponded with the superintendent few times in the past and if you want to play when the greens are in good condition, you’ll want to avoid the course from Monday after Father’s day (start of aerification) until 3rd week of August. Otherwise, you may play on super bumpy greens with huge aerification holes. I’ve done that 2x and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. Also, 4 somes are hard to come by during the weekends in short notice but weekdays have been pretty easy from my experience in the past. If you’re a single player, they can fit you in 1 night before without an issue.

18 RALPH BROWNING May 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I played the stadium course a year or so ago ( my 3rd trip there ) and if I had had to pay I rip off price would have stayed home. I admit the courses are kept in pretty good condition but come on, you go there to play golf, not buy a share in the damn club. Regardless of you financial worth, it’s a rip. I later went to Scotland & Ireland and played eight of the seaside courses including, St Andrew old course, Carnoustie, Troon and several more, bBallybunion, Lahinch, etc. at around 25% of the rip off prices at TPC. They are many courses just as great for much much less and more enjoyable. And I made birdie on 17, big deal huh.

19 Dave Nichols May 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Regardless of which tee box you play for the round, when you get to the 17th hole, play it from the tips. It’s just 135 yards, and the green is huge. I suggest taking 1 more club that your 135 club, choke down a bit, and make a smooth, controlled, 80% swing. Two putts later you’ll have your par and a great story to tell your buddies.

20 Brent G May 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

As of a few years ago the Stadium had a summer rate of $275 ($100 discount) from June-Sept, as incentive to deal with the FL heat. Do they still have a summer rate?

21 Craig Better May 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for the comment, Brent. When the Stadium Course’s “summer season” begins, the rate is $250. This includes a caddy, cart, green fees, and practice balls. Be careful when planning, though, as the course typically closes for aerification in late July-Early August.

22 joseph May 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Hi Craig,

Planning to play stadium course this july there will be 2 adults and 2 juniors, do they have junior rates at TPC, also in your opinion what would be the best thing to do, book a package ( which one there are so many) or book the accomadation and pay for the golf when we arrive.
We want to play the stadium course and one other , which would you recommend.
Regards Joe

23 Jeff J May 7, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Joseph:

I just played Sawgrass in November and would recommend the Valley course at the resort. Not as scenic, but there is plenty of water to navigate around to test your golf game. Underrated, tough test, nice warm up to Stadium course.

24 Shane May 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Good info thanks.

A couple of us have traveled over from Ireland for the past 6 years for The Players Championship. We are planning on going again next year. What are the chances of getting on the course the week after the tourney?

Also if we travel at another time of year, we obviously would have to book months in advance to confirm flights and accommodation et cetera. Is any leeway on the 14 day rule given to those coming from overseas?

Thanks..

25 Craig Better May 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Thanks, Shane. The course sometimes closes for a few days/weeks following the tournament so it’s best to check before making your plans. Also note the maintenance dates above. I don’t think there’s any leeway on the 14-day rule, either. But if you book with the Sawgrass Marriott, you’re good to go.

26 Zach May 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Went for the post thanksgiving special a year ago. The staff was really nice. The valley course was closed on monday and we wanted to play stadium on sunday due to weather expectations. They set us up at st johns, another course for monday about 30 min away. It was a great weekend with valley, stadium, and st johns. The accommodations in the village were quite nice. We had atwp room suite. I took my brother for his 60 th birthday, and he parred stadium 17 and 18. Priceless!

27 Dean May 12, 2013 at 5:31 am

Hey, I’m going to Florida in August and would love to play the Stadium Course. Are clubs available to hire and how much do they cost? How far in advance is it best to book a tee time? What will the green fee be in August? Thanks for your help

28 Dan May 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Going to Sawgrass again this year in early October and staying at the Marriott Villas. Five nights with three rounds of golf w/ tax and caddie fee, playing the three courses comes to about $500 per person. A real bargain and the breakfast at the Marriott which is included is fantastic. I called about not using the fore caddie but was told it was required. Not that I didn’t want to pay as the fee is included anyhow but since we had already played the three courses last year we felt we didn’t need them. But, when in Rome!!!!! Beach Club restaurant connected with Marriott is great with transportation provided so have a few brews and getting back to the hotel not a problem.

29 Robert August 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Avoid the Aqua Grill. Everyone in Jax knows it’s an overpriced dump. Head down to Barbara Jeans for home style seafood or to TacoLu on Beach boulevard. There’s also a Ruth’s Chris right near the entrance of the resort.

30 Matt St. George August 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Just booked a tee time on Golfnow for 9/3/13 for just $225. TacoLu is a must and Ruth’s Chris if you like to spend money. Also the World Golf village is worth a trip for you out of town golfers. The King and Bear is a great course.

31 Jason September 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Hi Craig,

I am organizing a 12 man/3day golf trip to Ponte Vedra for early March (Thurs-Sat). I have a quote from PGA Tour experiences, however there are many in our group that would prefer to get a big beach house. My question is how difficult is it to get tee times in the mid-morning for Thursday at the Stadium Course? Can I get three back to back to back foursomes booked easily 14 days out? Also, can you recommend any other courses in the area for our Friday and Saturday rounds?

32 Craig Better September 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

Hi Jason, I could be wrong, but my gut says it’s going to be pretty hard to get 3 foursomes booked back-to-back on the Stadium Course 14 days out..yes, even on a Thursday. That said, I would definitely call and get the pro shop’s opinion. Even better, speak to the group manager who may be able to help you given you’re bringing so much business to the property that day. As for other rounds, don’t overlook Dye’s Valley at Sawgrass; it’s a good one. You might also like St. Johns G&CC. And I would think you guys would want to check out the World Golf Hall of Fame — two decent courses there, too (I’m partial to the King/Bear).

33 Tony T September 24, 2013 at 8:01 am

The recommended gratuity for a caddy is not $20. It STARTS at $20 per player and goes up depending on the service and experience. If you’re the type that takes out a calculator to figure out exactly 15% of your dinner bill when preparing to tip a server, even if they did a fine job, then yes, $20 is correct for you.

34 Bob Jung September 26, 2013 at 8:30 am

Any tips as to which tees to play? Group is in late 60s – mid 70s with handicaps in 15-22 range.

35 Andrea December 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Dear Craig,
Having read all the comments makes me more convinced to Play the Stadium Course. We, two couples coming over from Germany, will stay at Orlando area in the middle of march and are considering to stay for one night in the area. Which course would you recommand beside Stadium course and what is the best way to arrange tee times at reasonable Prices for a foursome. Do you have any further times.

Thank you very much in advance
Andrea

36 Andrew January 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Craig,
I am going to be in the area for a conference in early February. I am alone. Will I have any problem getting on do you think? Thanks!
Andrew

37 Robert Davis May 13, 2014 at 11:17 am

With all of it’s courses TPC is banking on your desire to pay any price to play where the tour pros play. Unfortunately Sawgrass, like all of their venues, is a tricked up, gimmicky, made for TV track. Fine if you love that sort of thing, I suppose. Service is spotty at best, mostly indifferent, and rude and downright hostile if they think they can get away with it.

38 Luis V. May 13, 2014 at 11:17 am

Craig,

For those traveling to TPC Sawgrass note that Frontier A/L now flies in and out of the newly opened St Augustine, FL airport. I live near the Trenton, NJ area. I can fly round trip, Trenton to St. Augustine for less than $150. Frontier only flies certain days of the week so if your travel days are flexible you can save enough to play few more rounds in the area.

Luis V.

39 Earl May 27, 2014 at 7:58 am

Craig,

We will be traveling to Sawgrass the week after next year’s Player’s. What is the best deal we can expect to get? We want to play the Stadium Course at least once. The deal I saw this year was a 3-night stay at the Marriott with two rounds at the Stadium course and one round at a local course for $1,300. Thanks.

Earl

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: