TPC Sawgrass’ barber chair is the best throne in golf
The legend of the Sawgrass barber chair began in 1979, during the period when Sawgrass Country Club hosted the Players Championship (1977 to 1981, prior to the completion of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass). On the weekend, a steady wind whipping off the Atlantic created impossible conditions, and scores soared right along with it. The stroke average was in the high 70s — including Bob Murphy’s Sunday 92 — with only two golfers managing to beat par. (Lanny Wadkins won the title with what, at the time, seemed to be an impossible five-under 283.)
Bruised and beaten, many pros sought a place of refuge to share battle stories and lick their wounds. Ben Crenshaw was said to be one of the first to migrate to the chair, manned at the time by original barber Paul Mahla, to tell his tale of woe. Eventually a handful of players gathered ’round. And so, the barber chair’s transformation to group therapy couch was begun.
When the event moved across State Road A1A to its current home in 1982, then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman made certain the barber chair came with it. It was stowed away and forgotten for more than two decades, but with the 2006 renovation of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse came the chair’s resurrection. Winners of the Players slide into it to pose for photographs, triumphant kings returning from battle. But in March of this year, it sat strangely empty on the Sunday of the Tour’s flagship tournament. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Players was canceled after its opening round.
The chair is famous for those who sit in it. In 2020, it will be remembered for the player who didn’t.