The Art Of The Deal
Jerry Pate’s bellyflop; “Be the right club
today;” Craig Perks’ tree-tag chip-in par;
“Better than most;” David and Bob Duval ...
all great, well-worn stories from an event
with more memorable moments than any
tournament other than the four majors.
But did you know that the course that
hosted them all, TPC Sawgrass, would not
exist were it not for Mark Hayes’ two-shot
victory over Mike McCullough in the 1977
Players Championship? Of course you didn’t.
Neither did Mark Hayes.
Jimmy Carter hadn’t been in the West Wing
long enough to find all the bathrooms when
the Tour rebooted The Players Championship
Long before The Players was conducted at
the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, it was
held across the street at Sawgrass Country Club, a hidden masterpiece designed by
Ponte Vedra resident Ed Seay.
The problem was, like a lot of ambitious
country club developments in the late 1970s,
Sawgrass CC was bankrupt.
The PGA Tour had signed a three-year
deal with the receiver, Chase, as long as the
bank made capital improvements to get the
course tournament ready. During the
negotiations, the Chase representative said
to commissioner Deane Beman, “If you like
the place so much, why don’t you buy it.”
“Make me a good deal and we might,”
Sawgrass Country Club hosted The Players
Championship from 1977 until 1982 when it
was moved to TPC Sawgrass.