Sawgrass is best known, of course, for being the host to the Tournament Players Championship from 1977 to 1981. But it also has been the site of many major events.
The Florida State Golf Associationís Amateur Championship has been played here three times, the local PGA chapterís biggest event started here, the Jacksonville Area Golf Association has had numerous competitions, there have been frequent qualifiers for USGA national tournaments, and one of the nationís best college events is played here.
Sawgrass has been kind to the University of Florida as all three FSGA Amateur winners were Gators: David Peoples in 1979, Cary Splane in 1985 and Chris Couch in 1994.
All went on to successful careers. Peoples was a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Splane is a three-time Player of the Year in the North Florida PGA and is now the head professional at Marsh Creek Country Club, and Couch is a PGA Tour winner and remains eligible for the Tour.
The Northern Chapter Open started here in 1983. Chapter President Jim Kuhn, the pro at the now-closed Fort George Golf Club, wanted a competition for local players and got enough sponsors for a $5,000 purse. Sawgrass agreed to host it and the first winner was Bill Adams of Starke Country Club. The tournament later was taken over by Gate Petroleum and today is played at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.
The JAGA Amateurís most recent visit was in 2012. A.J. Crouch, who went on to become a scholarship player at the University of Florida, won by nine strokes with an eight-under 280.
The John Hayt Invitational moved to Sawgrass in 2000 annually brings some of the nationís best college teams in February. Hosted by the University of North Florida, it has been a venue for members and guests to see some of the future stars.
A number of PGA Tour players have competed including Brent Snedeker (Vanderbilt,) Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina), Luke Donald (Northwestern) and Bud Cauley and Michael Thompson (Alabama.)
The "Other" Players
While professional golf at Sawgrass is best known for the Tournament Players Championships from 1977 to 1981, another "major" was played here. The Senior Players Championship started in 1983 and was patterned after the TPC: the best of the best playing for a big purse. It started in Cleveland and played there for four years but the Tour wanted it close to the headquarters, so it was moved south.
It was moved to Sawgrass in 1987 for basically the same reason that the TPC came, Sawgrass was a convenient location while the tournament's site as being developed. For the TPC, it was the stadium course, and for the Senior Players, it was the Valley course, now called Dye's Valley.
Gary Player won with an 8 under 280 and then the Valley was ready, so it went across the street.
But, attendance was poor -- it was played in midsummer--and it lasted there only two years before the PGA Tour gave up and sent it elsewhere --in this case, to Dearborn, Mich. It's now in Pittsburgh and still in the summer.
1977 TPC - 1981
1979 Florida State Golf Association Amateur Championship (David Peoples won)
1983 Northern Chapter PGA Open(Bill Adams) (Became the Gate Invitational)
1983 Jacksonville Area Golf Association Championship (DeLeon Rowland)
1985 Florida State Golf Association Amateur Championship(Cary Splane)
1987 Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship (Gary Player)
1994 Florida State Golf Association Amateur Championship (Chris Couch)
2000 John Hayt Collegiate Invitational moves to Sawgrass ( Univ of Florida)*
2004 Florida State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship (Steve Carter)
2011 Women's Western Amateur Golf Association Championship )Victoria Tanco)
2012 Jacksonville Area Golf Association Championship (A.J. Crouch)
*The John Hayt Invitational which moved to Sawgrass in 2000 annually brings some of the nation's best college teams in February. Hosted by the University of North Florida competitors have included Brent Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald, Bud Cauley and Michael Thompson