How hard is the 17th at TPC Sawgrass for amateurs? The stats aren’t pretty

View of the 17th green and hospitality structures prior to THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 5, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

TPC Sawgrass' 17th was not kind to these amateurs.

Getty Images/@PGATOUR Twitter

It may be only 137 yards, but the famous island-green par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass has seen plenty of carnage from some of the world’s best players.

At the 2022 Players, only the par-4 18th was harder than TPC Sawgrass‘s penultimate hole. Playing to a stroke average of 3.265, it was the 10th hardest out of 204 par-3s on the PGA Tour last season and by far the hardest under 150 yards.

And that’s for guys with the confidence to make the 122-yard carry to the green every time. What about for us common folk?

The PGA Tour sought to find out and they camped out on the 17th for an entire day in January to record every shot hit by regular players.

As you can see in the video below, the results were quite humbling.

Out of 95 players who came through 17 that day, there were 102 balls hit in the water for an average of 1.07 per player., though that number was a bit inflated by the 10 players who hit three or more balls in the water. For context, out of 423 chances at the 2022 Players, there were just 57 water balls from the pros, just one for every 7.42 players.

More than half (56 percent) of all shots hit found the water and every group to play through the hole had at least one ball go in the lake.

All told, there were more scores at quadruple bogey or worse (27) than pars (23) to go along with 19 triples, 11 doubles and 12 bogeys leading to an average score of 5.37. One player’s tee shot was hit so far left it missed both the green and the water entirely, settling on the spectator mounding around the hole.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. The Tour witnessed three birdies and a woman who dropped a ball on the back edge of the putting surface and made a putt similar to Tiger Woods’ famous “better than most” snake to the front left hole location.

But all of the tribulations pale in comparison to Angelo Spagnolo. Spagnolo earned the dubious title of “World’s Worst Avid Golfer” in 1985 when he shot a 257 at TPC Sawgrass at a tournament to determine the world’s worst golfer on one of its toughest courses. His 257 — which equaled the Tour’s 72-hole scoring record at the time — was highlighted by a 66 at the Island Green.

On 17, Spagnolo hit 27 balls in the water and eventually putted down the cart path to find the real putting surface.

So this weekend when you watch a pro dunk their tee shot on 17, don’t laugh. Odds are you can’t do any better.

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