Considered golf’s unofficial fifth major and boasting the strongest field of any PGA Tour event throughout the year, The Players Championship exudes drama. For those who want to experience it in person as a VIP, only one ticket will suffice.
It’s almost a given that each spring The Players Championship will provide great drama, especially at TPC Sawgrass’ signature 17th hole. Over the past decade, the championship has almost always hung in the balance when the last groups of players reached the 17th tee box during the final round.
The unique construction of the Stadium Course, a product of the vision of former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman and the work of course designer Pete Dye, makes the entire championship venue a spectator-friendly environment. However, the best seats in the house — especially at the famous par-3 17th — are positioned inside a private hospitality venue perched two stories above the Golf Channel’s television sets.
It’s the ideal vantage point to keep track of the action on the championship’s closing holes. “That is the defining moment of the tournament,” says Jared Rice, the championship’s executive director, “and to be in a venue that offers amazing views in a very exclusive setting is really unmatched.”
There’s also only one way in: A $6,000 VIP ticket to The Players Club, which provides six days’ worth of transferrable access to all-inclusive hospitality areas across the property, including the 77,000-sq-ft Mediterranean style clubhouse, which is otherwise only open to PGA Tour players and their families, as well as select VIP guests. “You’re at the central artery of so much,” Rice says of being in the clubhouse. “You can look out from the back and see this beehive of activity happening all around you.”
A Players Club pass is more than just a ticket to unlock clubhouse doors, and it gets you more than just exceptional views. It also delivers access to exceptional culinary offerings. The Players Club menu showcases cuts of Wagyu beef and racks of wild boar, for example, as well as seafood specialties like Togarashi-spiced Hawaiian Opah and Himalayan salt-crusted Antarctic salmon. Similar attention to detail spills over onto the cocktail menu, where riffs on classic libations utilize hard-to-get rye whiskey from Kentucky.
“I haven’t been outside the ropes at this golf tournament,” says defending champion Rory McIlroy. “But from inside the ropes,” he adds with a wry smile, “it looks like a pretty good time.”
As for the significance of the tournament and the atmosphere that surrounds TPC Sawgrass during the week of The Players Championship, McIlroy acknowledges that it’s unlike other PGA Tour events. “It feels different,” he says. “It feels important, and the only way you can really explain that to someone is if they come here.”
Those that do will want to take a page out of McIlroy’s playbook and stay on the ocean side of Highway A1A. “When I started to do well here and enjoy myself more was when I started to stay at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club on the beach,” he says.
The Players Club members will also want to stay for at least a couple of extra days, which will give them a chance to take on the Stadium Course once it reopens to the public. According to McIlroy, the course doesn’t favor any particular playing style, but it does pay to be conservative. “Don’t try to take on too much,” he says. “I missed my first three cuts here [because] I wanted to hit driver everywhere. I wanted to be aggressive, and this course doesn’t let you do that.”
$6,000 per ticket.