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The Ultimate Entertainment Guide to THE PLAYERS Championship

A one-stop guide of everything to do at THE PLAYERS, from where to get the best food, best shade, best drinks deals and restroom locations.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 9: Phil Mickelson plays the 17th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

Best places to cool off

Need to beat the heat?  All of the locations below are open to grounds ticket holders and give you a chance to take a break from the action – and the sun – while enjoying the atmosphere that is uniquely THE PLAYERS.

  • For the first time, the JELD-WEN Stadium Village is completely tented and air-conditioned, making it the ultimate destination when you need to cool off.  While you’re there, enjoy a variety of interactive activities, mobile device Wi-Fi access, luxury restrooms and a cash bar. And the JELD-WEN Stadium Village is one of only two locations (with The Terrace) – outside of private hospitality venues – where you can purchase mixed drinks.
  • New in 2011, The Grove is an outdoor, shaded area located behind No. 17 tee. The venue features umbrella tables and an LED video board, and since it’s just a sand wedge (or less) from The Food Court – which features food and drinks for sale from various local establishments – it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch in the shade.  The Grove will quickly become the spot for fans to meet up and hang out. Instead of telling your buddy, “Meet me out by 17,” and then searching through all of the random fans for an hour, just say “Meet me at The Grove!”
  • The Patio – also new in 2011 – is located close to No. 10 tee and the 18 hospitality area and is a shaded area with tables, food and beverage for purchase.  You can relax away from the heat without missing any of the action. Fans who hang out at The Patio will be able to view all of the action on Golf Channel and the NBC telecasts on a large video screen within the area. Think of this as your outdoor sports bar at THE PLAYERS.

Where to be seen

Everyone who’s anyone is at THE PLAYERS – and if you’ve been at least once, you know that No. 17 is a major hub of activity.  But check out these other hotspots and you’ll be sure to run into someone you know – or want to know.  Just don’t forget to return to the action out on the course at some point!

  • You’ll need to purchase an upgraded ticket to gain access to The Turn, but it’s well worth it.  Located between No. 18 and No. 9, this hospitality venue gives an excellent view of both holes – either from the air-conditioned interior or the outside stadium seating.  The Turn was rocking when it debuted in 2010 (and quickly sold out).  Don’t be on the outside looking in this year.
  • Of the seven new venues debuting in 2011, put The Patio at the top of your list.  It’s got plenty of shade to enjoy, places to sit and beverages to purchase.
  • The No. 1 tee is your chance to be seen by friends and family – and possibly a worldwide television audience.  Be part of the crowd when the best players in the world tee off and you just might make the Golf Channel or NBC broadcast.
  • If you have an upgraded Clubhouse ticket, don’t spend all your time indoors!  Hang out on the Clubhouse Lawn and enjoy food and beverages, available for purchase, from award-winning TPC Sawgrass Nineteen.  In the shadow of the beautiful 77,000 square-foot clubhouse, the lawn offers ample chairs, umbrella tables and a view of No. 18 green.

Where to see the golfers

Don’t roll your eyes – yes, we know, “Duh, on the golf course,” is the appropriate response.  But where, EXACTLY?  Check out these sneaky locations to get up close to the action and as personal as possible to some of the best players in the world.

  • True golf fans know that the Practice Area is a must-stop at THE PLAYERS.  You can grab a spot up against the rope line and be thisclose to the world’s best as they hone their craft…sometimes for hours on end, not to mention the fact that players usually stop and sign autographs as players come and go.
  • Located on the Clubhouse side lawn – and new in 2011 – The Terrace gives you the best of both worlds: a great spot to relax with a cash bar (with mixed drinks), tables and umbrellas, as well as a unique view of the chipping green and practice area, where you can watch players warm up and work on their games – and maybe pick up a tip or two.
  • Another area where players let their guard down and interact with the fans is outside the Scoring Area. Players enter the scoring area located between the Clubhouse and the JELD-WEN Stadium Village to sign their scorecards after they finish their rounds on Thursday-Sunday.  This is one of the best places to hang out and collect player autographs.

Best chance for celebrity sightings

Sure, there’s Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Rickie and the rest of the gang.  But THE PLAYERS has its fair share of celebrities who are big fans of the world’s best golfers, just like you.  You never know who you’ll see strolling along the rope line and enjoying the action, but here are a few additional locations where celebs flock throughout the week.

  • Hang out near the new Jaguar Den by No. 17 tee for a glimpse of some of your favorite former Jags, coaches and Jaxson De Ville as they relax and enjoy THE PLAYERS Championship.
  • Don’t miss Military Appreciation Day on Wednesday on the Clubhouse Lawn, where Darius Rucker will be performing.  Local celebrities and TOUR players often attend the concert and mingle with the crowd, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • While the Patriots’ Outpost is open only to military personnel and their families, it’s not a bad idea to hang out near the facility (located on the hill between No. 16 and No. 18 fairways), as dignitaries and celebrities are always stopping by to spend time with the troops.  And even if you don’t see someone you know, say hello to some of our local men and women in uniform – who should be recognized, even if they’re not famous.

Best beverage deals

You need to cool off, and we’ve told you where to find the best shade and A/C.  But an ice-cold drink is no doubt at the top of your list.  Be the first to check out these deals, and your friends will think you’re an insider.

  • A limited-edition THE PLAYERS acrylic tumbler, filled to the brim with THE PLAYERS Signature Drink – the Sawgrass Splash – is available wherever spirits are sold.  For $10, you’ll get a 20-ounce Sawgrass Splash in a 2011 PLAYERS tumbler that features the tournament logo and a list of the past champions.  The commemorative cup itself (with no beverage) is available for $5.
  • Also new this year is THE PLAYERS 20-ounce cup, available in all grounds concession stands, The Turn and The Benefactor.  For just $1, you can upgrade your frosty beverage and take home a keepsake of your PLAYERS experience.
  • Newsflash: it can be warm in Florida in May. Don’t be that person in 2011 whose good time is ruined by dehydration.  Drink water, lots of it. There are water fountains at the following locations to provide fans with FREE, quality H20: No. 5 green; No. 12 tee; at the practice putting green near No. 1 and at the main spectator entrance at the P2 lot.

Best places to eat

With all there is to do and see at THE PLAYERS, chances are you’ll be spending most of the day at TPC Sawgrass – which means you’re bound to get hungry at some point.  No worries about that – we’ve got you covered with a variety of tasty options located at concession areas around the golf course.  Here are the top-three places to put on your radar screen come lunch time.

  • You already know the JELD-WEN Stadium Village is the place to go for fun, games, shopping and chilling out (literally).  But you can also grab a great snack at the All-American Grill, which serves traditional concession items like burgers and hot dogs.
  • If it’s options you’re after, The Food Court is calling your name.  Located behind No. 16 green, there are plenty of choices sure to satisfy everyone in the family.  Grab some classic concession favorites from the All-American Grill, or pick items from a favorite local restaurant like Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Brucci’s Pizza or Tropical Smoothie Café.  When everyone has what they’re after, stake out a shady spot with tables and chairs at The Grove and enjoy a relaxing family meal.
  • The Benefactor is an upgraded ticket, but it’s well worth the price considering the view (behind No. 17 tee) and the food (signature items Morton’s The Steakhouse).  We’ll let you decide when – if ever – it’s time to leave.

Best food deals

Hanging out at THE PLAYERS is an all-day affair and not one to enjoy on an empty stomach.  After all, a hungry fan is an unhappy fan.  Here’s a list of the best grub for the best price.

  • Calling all families!  Plan ahead and purchase The Family Plan package, which offers 2 adult tickets, unlimited youth tickets and 4 Value Meals for only $99.  The meal includes a hot dog, chips and soda or water, which can be redeemed at the concession areas at No. 1 or No. 3 tee or the All-American Grill at the Food Court behind No. 16 green.
  • THE PLAYERS Mayport Shrimp Wrap debuted last year and was such a hit, it’s back in 2011.  The wrap was created by the culinary team at TPC Sawgrass and will be served during the tournament, as well as throughout the year at Nineteen.  The wrap is a shrimp salad made from local Mayport shrimp, mayo, Old Bay seasoning, red onion, celery, lime juice, lemon zest and Tabasco sauce; served with cabbage on a wheat wrap.  It’s a fresh taste of Jacksonville.

Best bathrooms

Don’t laugh.  We know you care.

  • No port-o-lets here.  The restrooms at the JELD-WEN Stadium Village are top-of-the-line, luxury facilities that feature air conditioning, running water and bathroom attendants. Freshen up and get back in the game.
  • The Grove and The Patio also offer premium, structured restroom facilities, giving you one more reason to spend some time at these new locations.

Best merchandise

THE PLAYERS is already Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach’s ultimate fashion show, but why not add to your closet collection with a few carefully selected items that are uniquely THE PLAYERS?  Since all the merchandise is fabulous, these recommendations are more about strategy than specifics.

  • When you first arrive at THE PLAYERS, immediately stop at the Main Entrance Merchandise Tent as you enter the P2 gate from the main parking lot, at the end of the Walk of Champions.  Stock up on all the necessities for a day at the course – hats, sunscreen and one or two limited-edition items with THE PLAYERS 2011 logo that might not be there by day’s end, like a commemorative 2011 PLAYERS pin flag, PLAYERS tumbler (with a list of the past champions on the back), golf ball, towel or lapel pin.
  • Mid-day, head over to the JELD-WEN Stadium Village and cool off in the A/C while browsing the 6,200 square-foot merchandise area.  You can check your merchandise with an attendant and pick it up at the end of the day, so no worries about lugging around your loot.
  • If you’ve got a Clubhouse ticket, you’ll want to hit up the TPC Sawgrasss Golf Shop as well to check out everything from PLAYERS merchandise to TPC Sawgrass keepsakes to balls, clubs and other golf equipment.

Best views of 17

You know you’re going to spend some time – probably a lot of time – at No. 17.  But where can you best experience all that this world-famous par 3 has to offer?

  • The Benefactor is an upgraded ticket, but the view doesn’t get any better than from the second floor of this shared hospitality venue.  And when you’re looking out over the 17th tee with an ice-cold drink and a snack from Morton’s The Steakhouse, you may never want to leave.
  • It’s easy to find a great seat on Wednesday at No. 17, where you won’t want to miss the little-known but much-enjoyed Caddie Contest.  Each year at THE PLAYERS during the Wednesday practice round, players and caddies switch roles when they arrive at the famous 17th hole, and the caddies get the opportunity to take a swing.  This is great tradition unique to THE PLAYERS and one that provides an added layer of entertainment for the fans, players and caddies alike.
  • Post up at the hedges behind No. 17 tee.  You’ll need to get there early to grab a spot, but it’s worth the effort.  You’ll hear plenty of interaction between players and caddies on club selection – and you’ll be part of the “oohs” and “aahs” as their ball hits the green… or splashes in the water.
  • An underrated spot to watch golf within the natural amphitheater near the 17th hole is on the hill behind the 16th green. Here you get to see players take aim at the risk/reward par 5 16th hole and still get to watch them take on the famous island green at the 17th.

Best views of golf NOT at 17

With all that’s going on in the new venues at THE PLAYERS, don’t forget to venture out on the golf course to really soak up the action.  Here’s a quick list of sneaky spots (read: less crowded) that offer great views of this world-class event.

  • No. 2 green/No. 3 tee is one of the spots on the course where you can catch the best players on the PGA TOUR deciding whether to go for the par 5 in two shots or lay up; and then you can keep an eye on them as they head over to the next tee to take on the 177-yard par 3.
  • On a course known for risk vs. reward, the par 5 11th hole might be the one that offers players with the most decisions of all. Players have two separate fairways to which they can lay up with their second shot… or you can egg them on into going for the green in two.
  • The mound between the 10th tee and the 16th tee is a great spot to catch two different tee shots during play.
  • The 13th green offers a more intimate setting to see players hit into a par three than the 17th. There are several areas around the green and tee that get you close to the action.
  • If you’re one of the first to show up at The Bluff each day, we’ll give you a comfy chair – at no charge – and you can stake out a prime location at No. 18 green for the entire day.  You can enjoy a great view of one of the best finishing holes in golf, as well as wait staff who will take your food and drink orders so you never have to leave the action.

Best family-friendly venues

THE PLAYERS is one of the best, most affordable family entertainment options going, and there’s more to a day at TPC Sawgrass than the world-class golf (although we bet a glimpse of Phil Mickelson or Rickie Fowler will make your son’s or daughter’s eyes light up).  Spend some time with the kids at one of these locations where they can have fun without worrying about anyone saying, “Quiet, please.”

  • Experience the best of Stadium golf at the JELD-WEN Stadium Village and the PwC First Tee Challenge – a scaled version of the famous 17th hole where kids and adults alike can see just how difficult it is to reach the green.  The area also includes video games, concessions, merchandise and outdoor seating – where you can rest up before returning to the tournament action. New this year is an upgraded Stadium Snapshot experience, where you can get a commemorative photo taken, as well as a ball-fitting and custom door-fitting exhibit, courtesy of JELD-WEN and its “Perfect Fit” program.
  • Keep the little ones – and moms and dads, too – full and focused on all the action after resting up in The Grove.  The Grove is an outdoor, shaded area, open to the public located behind 17 tee with easy access to The Food Court.  Everyone can grab some classic concession favorites from the All-American Grill, or pick items from their favorite local restaurant featured in the Food Court (Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Brucci’s Pizza and Tropical Smoothie Café’) and meet back at one of the picnic tables for a family lunch.
  • No trip to THE PLAYERS would be complete – especially for the kids – without collecting a few autographs.  Be sure to hang out in one of the “Autograph Alleys” for the best shot at snagging a prized signature from some of golf’s greatest players.  Autographs are encouraged near the Clubhouse, Practice Areas and the Scoring Area.

What not to bring

You’ve got sunscreen. Sunglasses. Your fashionable hat. All the things needed to make a statement and have a blast at THE PLAYERS.  But what shouldn’t you bring to the golf course?

  • Once the tournament starts on Thursday, don’t get sent back to your car because you brought a camera.  While taking photos is permitted – encouraged! – Monday through Wednesday, any budding shutterbugs will need to leave the equipment at home once the competition gets underway.
  • Kids (6 years and older) to a hospitality venue without a ticket.  Yes, kids get in free to THE PLAYERS with a ticketed adult – but this policy applies to grounds tickets only.  If you’re planning to spend some time in The Turn or The Benefactor, for example – and we hope that you do – and if your child is 6 years of age or older, they’ll also need one of these upgraded tickets to gain admission.
  • We’ve got plenty of places to sit and tons of shady spots with umbrella tables, but if you want bo bring your own chair or umbrella (just in case), here’s a tip for avoiding a common rookie fan mistake: leave the cases or covers for those items in your car, as those are prohibited items.

Where and how to use your cell phone

Worried about missing a call while you’re at THE PLAYERS?  We have an app for that.  The PGA TOUR unveiled a new cell phone policy in 2011, meaning you no longer have to worry about separation anxiety because you were forced to leave your mobile device at home.  But don’t be “that guy” who reminds everyone why cell phones weren’t allowed on the course for so long and follow these tips.

  • Put your phone on silent.
  • Use designated areas throughout the golf course when making or receiving phone calls (check the course map for “Mobile Talk Locations”).
  • Don’t use your mobile device for video recording at any time during the week.
  • Only use your mobile device to take photos Monday through Wednesday.

Best place/best strategy for getting players’ autographs

While we can’t discount the ultimate strategy for getting tons of autographs – be a cute kid and say “please” – these tactics will definitely increase your chance for success, no matter your age.

  • Hang out in an “autograph alleys.” Post up at near the Clubhouse, Practice Areas and the Scoring Area, as these locations are where players tend to stay until the last request is satisfied.  Players are much more apt to stop and sign in these areas as opposed to when they’re out on the golf course.
  • During the practice rounds, follow the same group for a couple of holes. Rather than the Johnny-Come-Latelys who just show up with the mob of autograph hounds, players will often reward those dedicated fans who have stuck with them for an hour or so; you’d be surprised how often a player will make a point to thank you for following along all day.
  • Make a statement (a good one, of course).  Wear a “Phil is my Phavorite” t-shirt.  Get six of your best friends to join you and shave the letters “A-K-4-E-V-E-R” into the backs of your heads.  Dress up in total Ian Poulter gear and spike your hair.  Just be respectful, creative and bring a Sharpie.

Best travel tips for THE PLAYERS

They say getting there is half the battle, right?  Here are a few quick travel tips to make sure you arrive in style to THE PLAYERS 2011.

  • For out-of-towners, JAX is the preferred commercial airport (check out all THE PLAYERS signage!) and St. Augustine for those who fly privately (hollah, high rollers!).
  • The best way to access the public parking lot is via SR-210 from Nocatee Parkway.  Trust us, you’ll avoid the congestion and delays that are typical of A1A and spend more time enjoying the tournament.  And be sure to purchase your parking in advance (and online) for Thursday-Sunday to avoid any back-ups in the parking lot or, worse yet, the prospect of being turned away once parking is sold out.
  • If you live close by, ride your bike to the tournament and use our “bike valet” off ATP Tour Boulevard Thursday through Sunday of tournament week.  A $5 donation is suggested, which benefits the North Florida MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Chapter.  And even if you don’t live near TPC Sawgrass, meet up with friends at a nearby park or business and “bike-pool” to the tournament.

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