There are many great courses in the world, but none are more near and dear to my heart than the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, which hosts The Players Championship this week.
I worked as a caddie there during my doctoral studies and couldn’t have asked for a more perfect pseudo-internship in Golf Psychology before becoming the Director of Mental Training here at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy.
TPC Sawgrass is home to the three best finishing holes in golf and has been dubbed “The Gauntlet” by former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman, mastermind behind the TPC network.
The centerpiece to this three-hole finale is hole 17 known by most golfers as “The Island Green.” Although it only plays 140 yards on its longest days, the green is surrounded by water and is a must hit – the consequence of a missed shot is a rehit or drop. It truly creates a do-or-die feeling, especially since it’s the first playoff hole of sudden death. It will truly test every tour player this mother’s day weekend.
So what is the secret to taming this beast?
As with every shot in golf, it starts with a sound mental approach and a positive outlook. Every player on Tour has hit this type of approach shot successfully thousands of times over their golfing career, but the largest purse in golf and the chance to become the winner of golf’s “5th major” can quickly change a player’s perspective. It’s not the player’s ability that changes, but the player’s outlook and view of the challenge. This in turn is what changes their ability to hit the shot. The winner of this year’s Players Championship will be the player who trusts themselves the most and stays committed to their game.
To be successful on the most “famous par 3 in golf”, each player must look at it in a way that they believe in themselves and know that they can hit this shot. Walking up to the hole, they must tell themselves, “It’s 140 yards. I’ve done this a million times. Let’s hit the shot like I know I can, it’s that easy.” When you look at No. 17 as just another shot, it ensures the best opportunity to succeed. I know every player this week can hit this shot.
I have seen Jim Furyk skip 3 irons off the water onto the green on 17 like clockwork. If a golfer of Furyk’s ability can do this, then they can also easily hit a stock PW. They just need to allow themselves to by thinking about it in the right way.
Whether it’s The Players Championship on the PGA Tour, the AJGA’s Jr Players Championship or whether you’re playing there for fun, your strategy is at No. 17 is same and the player that does the best this week will be the 2013 PLAYERS Champion.