That’s Debatable grand finale: Which is better, No. 17 at Sawgrass or No. 16 at Scottsdale?

In GOLF’s all-new series That’s Debatable, sponsored by Cisco WebEx, we’re settling some of golf’s most heated disputes. Our writers and editors have been seeded 1-16 and have battled for their shot at the crown. Today, we finally declare a winner.

After a gritty two weeks of debates, GOLF Writer Josh Sens emerged from our staff bracket as the last person standing. His path to the final included victories over the 14-seed Nick Piastowski, the 1-seed Alan Shipnuck, the 10-seed Andrew Tursky and the 3-seed Michael Bamberger. PGA Tour pro Keith Mitchell, winner of the 2019 Honda Classic, came away a winner in his showdown with fellow pro Viktor Hovland to punch his ticket to the final showdown.

In this final debate of That’s Debatable, Sens and Mitchell tackle the task of arguing which is a better par-3 on the PGA Tour — No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass or No. 16 at TPC Scottsdale. It’s the prestige of the island green vs. the pressure of the raucous stadium atmosphere in the desert. Watch the video above or read a summary of their arguments below.

TPC Sawgrass No. 17 (Sens)

1. Pete Dye, the architect behind the 17th, is one of the all-time greats. The architect for TPC Scottsdale is Randy Heckenkemper. No disrespect to the man, but he’s no Pete Dye.
2. The hole is iconic and has been emulated by other designer for decades. The influence is profound.
3. The only influence of the 16th hole at Scottsdale is the blood-alcohol content. The atmosphere might be great, but golf is secondary to the booze.
4. The Players vs. the Waste Management is no comparison. One is the Super Bowl and the other is a Pop Warner game.
5. The 17th has more iconic shots. In recent memory, the most iconic shot on the 16th at Scottsdale is a putt by an amateur (Amy Bockerstette).

TPC Scottsdale No. 16 (Mitchell)

1. It’s not a golf course architecture debate. It’s a debate over holes on the PGA Tour, and the 16th at Scottsdale is one of the best.
2. Has Sens played either hole on the PGA Tour? No. He probably hasn’t birdied either hole either, from the front tees!
3. The 16th is more difficult. There were more birdies on No. 17 in 2019 (94) than at No. 16 in Scottsdale (62). The pressure is more intense at the Waste Management.
4. The 16th is more rewarding when you hit a good shot. No. 18 is harder than 17 at Sawgrass, so you’re not even concerned about the island green. At Scottsdale you are worried about the 16th tee shot all day. Good shots are celebrated. Bad shots are chastised.
5. Ask any Tour pro what hole they’d rather have a hole-in-one on and it’ll be Scottsdale, no doubt.

Winner (by judge’s decision)

No. 16 at TPC Scottsdale! Mitchell has stuck it to the Players. He wasn’t worried about the pressure. That kind of hands-on experience gives him the edge in this debate and with it, our That’s Debatable crown.

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