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Teeing Off: Is the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass the most famous golf hole in the world?

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at @shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we talk No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass.

Bacon: This week is the Players Championship, the "fifth major" as we've come to know it. Golf fans tend to remember certain holes throughout the year at certain golf courses, but few are as known as the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. It's a par-3 that's a bit strange that people dream of playing, so I ask you, is it the most recognizable and iconic golf hole in the entire world?

Busbee: Without a doubt. It's a hole where even non-golfers can understand the paramount risk-reward, all-or-nothing relationship. That's why it's on all those goofy business motivational posters with lines like "GLORY: Because it's no fun when your balls go into the water." (That may be a paraphrase.) But here's the question: is it a GOOD hole?

Bacon: I think it's a "fun" hole, but I tend to agree with guys like Tiger Woods who wish it was on the front nine of a championship course like Sawgrass and not the 17th. I think the fact that it's a short iron makes it playable in any condition, but pressure can get to these players and a bad swing means you are most likely making a five or higher. Would it be a better fit on the front or is the 71st hole the place for the island green?

Busbee: Aesthetically, yes, the Island Green belongs earlier in the rotation. The problem is, the Players is all about grabbing your attention from the majors, and the 17th, looming as it does throughout the round, holds your (and the players') attention. Same deal for the playoff: it's a bit silly that a major (lower-case "m") tournament has, in effect, a pitch-n'-putt hole as its playoff determinant, but it makes for good drama. Here's my thought, though: why not open the Island Green one day a year to hackers all over the world. Fifty bucks, three balls, swing away. They'd make their operating budget in a day!

Bacon: It's actually a brilliant idea if you think about it, especially if Sawgrass needed to do some maintenance on the rest of the golf course. Give hackers a chance, even make them hit off mats, because that is essentially why people pay triple digits to play Sawgrass in the first place. On that note, give me five holes you'd pay $100 to play.

Busbee: Let's see...Island Green, 13th at Augusta, 7th at Pebble, 18th at St. Andrews, and 18th at Kapalua. Assuming, of course that the 19th at Legends doesn't count. And you?

Bacon: Is it lame to include Amen Corner for three of my holes? Yes? No? Fine, then I'll say, 13 at Augusta as well, 16 at Cypress Point, the Road Hole, the Postage Stamp and the 11th at Lajitas Golf Course in Texas just because it would be cool to say you played the only international hole in the world (the green is on the other side of the Rio Grande).

Who can we convince to let us do this? Do you have Trump's number available?

Busbee: Not since I made that roadkill joke.

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