The eyes have it: attention on Ponte Vedra drives Players improvements

TCL Improvements to The Players TPC 1605

Major remodeling at TPC Clubhouse property to begin this month

By Kelly H. McDermott
mail@floridanewsline.com

Ponte Vedra will once again be in the spotlight this month when millions tune into The Players Championship.

“The eyeballs are coming,” said senior vice president and executive director of The Players Championship, Matt Rapp.

Rapp was joined by 2002 Tournament Chairman Jack Garnett and 2016 Chairman Michele McManamon on April 7, when he spoke to the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach about his goal of making the tournament the “best in the world.”

“The eyeballs” that will be on Ponte Vedra, he said, include domestic television viewers, visiting golf fans and as many as a billion households outside of the United States who have access to tournament coverage.

Also starting this year, eyes on TPC Sawgrass will include what Rapp called a “white glove audience,” made up of three to four hundred $5,000 ticketholders. These will be the only guests granted access to the clubhouse at this year’s tournament.

With more people watching the tournament than ever, the PGA Tour and The Players Championship are under pressure to create a picture-perfect venue. Staff and partners will begin a major effort to revamp the entrance, greens and golf courses at the TPC Clubhouse this month — starting just two days after the tournament wraps up on Sunday, May 15.

The extensive remodeling will create what Rapp calls “a grand, VIP entry experience,” expected to be complete in time for the 2017 Players.

“They’re going to blow up every green on the golf course,” Rapp said, noting that this includes 30 greens altogether. The Valley Course will be completely revamped, while the Stadium Course, utilized for play during the tournament, will get new practice grounds.

In addition to the greens, plans are underway to change everything about the land that spans the area between the PGA Tour Headquarters buildings and the TPC Clubhouse.

“The entire clubhouse road is going away — that will be completely reimagined,” Rapp said. Changes will also extend back into the area designated for tournament volunteers, as well as continued improvements to the parking lot areas off of County Road 210.

“The dump trucks on Palm Valley Road are coming back,” Rapp said.

He was quick to add that he thinks the eventual payoff will be enormous for the community.

“When you look at being a showcase to the world — no disrespect to any other events or institutions — nothing comes anywhere close to this,” he said. “It’s not even in the same universe in terms of exposure for our area.”

The Players Championship is hosted at TPC Sawgrass, May 10 through 15, 2016. Visit www.theplayerschampionship.com for more information.

Photo by Kelly McDermott

Matt Rapp (executive director of The Players Championship), Jack Garnett (2002 chairman) and Michele McManamon (2016 chairman) joined club president Will Montoya for a meeting of the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach on April 7.