Why TPC Sawgrass maintenance led to my favorite round of 2022

tpc sawgrass 17th hole

Overseeding at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass robbed me of a battle with the Island Green, but gave me my favorite round of 2022.

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At GOLF.com, our hobby is also our job. That means, just like you, we spend much of the year teeing it up high, swinging hard and trying to avoid double bogeys. But some courses we stumble upon are simply more memorable than others. Here, for the second straight year, we unveil our favorite public courses we played in 2022.

ICYMI: Why this simple Scottish course was my favorite I played in 2022
Why this rural 9-hole course was my favorite course of 2022


For the first time in a very long while, the New York Giants are good, and that’s bad news for the Colgan family.

You see, we love the Giants. Like, season-tickets-since-I-was-a-child love them. When the Giants are good, life is good. But when the Giants are good, life is also a little bit stressful. Suddenly there’s pressure to maximize our time spent at every home game. Suddenly, the idea of giving our tickets away to friends and family for a game feels ludicrous. And suddenly, there’s the nagging, incessant urge to go on another New York Giants road trip.

The Jacksonville game was a likely target from long before the season started. We have family just outside of the city — my Dad’s brother, Bob — and other aunts and uncles located all over the state. The Giants-Jaguars game fell in late October, a perfectly timed lull in the golf season that would allow me to join, too. That was an important detail, because much as the trip was centered around our Giants, it was conceived as a golf trip.

For years now, the Colgans have traveled down to visit Uncle Bob for Players Championship weekend, which is something of a citywide holiday in Jacksonville. We lap in the early-season sunshine, enjoy a few overpriced cocktails, and generally absorb the environment at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. It’s an awesome week — one of the best on the calendar each and every year. (Try as the “fifth major” haters may, I would be lying if I said Players week wasn’t a huge reason my interest in the sport blossomed as a youngster.)

But, as many people who have attended a golf tournament do, we’ve longed for the opportunity to not just walk the Stadium Course, but play it.

When the Giants-Jags game was first announced, we quickly put the gears in motion. We’d come down for the weekend, play some golf, see the game and then jetset back home on Monday morning. Soon, we’d hammered out the details. Flights were booked. Dinners were reserved. Tickets were secured. Things were trending beautifully.

And then the text message came.

“Bad news,” it read. “The Stadium Course is CLOSED for overseeding during the weekend of the Giants game.”

vermont par 3 at off the rails
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I was, to put it lightly, bummed. Yeah, yeah, the course isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And sure, the $800 peak rate borders on criminal extortion. But I wanted the island green, goddamnit! And I was upset I wasn’t going to get it.

Later that day Uncle Bob sent another text.

“No worries at all. We’re going to play Dye’s Valley instead. Tee time is reserved!”

Dye’s Valley, for the uninitiated, is the little brother to Pete Dye’s seminal work at the Stadium Course. It is where the Korn Ferry Tour finals are contested each year, and is one of a host of courses on property at the PGA Tour complex in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. It is, by all accounts, a fine golf course (the second-best on the property, by most estimations), but the Stadium Course ranked 50th on GOLF’s latest list of the top 100 courses in the U.S.! Dye’s Valley … did not. Of course, I was still thrilled to be playing golf with my dad and two of my uncles, but my hopes for the venue were sufficiently tempered.

We woke early on the morning of our tee time to a surprise.

“Before everyone gets dressed, I brought you all a gift,” Dad said, revealing a trio of plastic bags.

Inside each bag was a polo bearing the same New York Giants logo and the same design.

“I bought matching outfits for the four of us,” he said, giggling.

We arrived at the course a short while later to compliments from the staff on our attire. It was a cold morning, but the forecast called for a beautiful day. Soon we were off, and the first portion of our round had begun.

“This is pretty awesome,” Dad said as we reached the second hole, a short par-3.

When part of your job is seeing golf courses, it is sometimes easy to forget that isn’t the case for the rest of the world. I was relatively unmoved by the 2nd hole, but apparently I was alone in that opinion. As Dad and Uncles John and Bob talked amongst themselves, I found myself swayed by their reasoning. They didn’t care about the fact the hole was a flat, straight par-3. Or about the lack of greenside bunkers or the strangeness of the large, sandy area in front of the green. And certainly not about about the architect’s intended routing.

No, they cared about the grass, which was green and well-manicured; the sun, which was shining; and the air, which was warm. These were the elements that constituted a good day of golf, they were the only elements that constituted a good day of golf, and some days, they might not be needed at all.

I was embarrassed by my arrogance. Who cared about if we were at TPC Sawgrass or the pitch-and-putt back on Long Island? We were together, we were healthy, and we were playing golf — those three things didn’t often happen at the same time.

james colgan and relatives
The Colgan men … in their matching attire. James Colgan

My game, which had been struggling all morning, responded in kind. Before long, I was grooving center-cut drives, splashing approaches to 10 feet, and holing putts. After a dreadful first nine, I carded my best second nine of the year — complete with back-to-back birdies. So much for missing out on the island green!

Truthfully, the day, the venue, and even the golf proved the kind of soul tonic I’d needed after a long and strange year working in the sport. It was good to be reminded again of the ways in which golf continues to capture the hearts and minds of its fans. More importantly, it was good to be reminded of why golf ever mattered to me in the first place: as an excuse to spend time with the people in my life who loved it too. On the weekend of Uncle Bob’s 70th, I’d never been reminded of that more.

On Sunday afternoon, our comeback kid Giants pulled off another heart-stopping finish, winning with quite literally one inch to spare in a thriller over the Jags. When the game went final, the foursome from the previous afternoon (plus a few extras) danced around our seats like we’d just won the lottery.

In many ways, we had.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.

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