Every March, the PGA Tour heads to the Sunshine State for a run of events known as the Florida Swing.
Really, it's the perfect time of year to be in Florida for the PGA Tour, which has its headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach. After starting the calendar year in Hawaii and making their way east through the West Coast Swing, the PGA Tour arrives in Florida at the perfect time of year. A few months later, Florida would be too warm to get ideal course conditions and to bring out the best in players.
Just a few years ago, the Florida Swing was broken up by the WGC-Mexico Championship. However, the Florida Swing is now played in a four-week cluster.
Which events are part of the Florida Swing?
The four events in the PGA Tour Florida Swing are:
- The Honda Classic
- Arnold Palmer Invitational
- The Players Championship
- Valspar Championship
All four tournaments are full-field events, with 144 or 156 players competing in them. All have a 36-hole cut.
The Honda Classic is the PGA Tour's event in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area and played in recent memory at PGA National's Champion Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus. A three-hole stretch from Nos. 15-17 known as The Bear Trap -- named in honor of Jack Nicklaus' "Golden Bear" nickname -- challenges players. This tournament is typically played in windy conditions, with scoring a challenge.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is the PGA Tour's stop in Orlando, in central Florida. The event, hosted by the legendary Arnold Palmer until after his death in 2016, is played at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, the club he purchased in Florida. The tournament is now considered an invitational event with what the PGA Tour dubs as elevated status. The winner of the 120-player event earns a three-season PGA Tour exemption, an increase over the normal two.
The Players Championship is the PGA Tour's crown jewel. It is the closest thing the Tour has to a major championship, and many players consider winning it as a major victory. The tournament is played at the Tour's headquarters, TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., some 30 minutes from Jacksonville. The Players Stadium Course is a Pete and Alice Dye design that's exacting but allows any type of player to win. The island-green par-3 17th hole is the landmark hole. The tournament features the largest purse on the PGA Tour.
The Valspar Championship now closes the PGA Tour's Florida Swing. Played near Tampa at the Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course, the Valspar Championship typically welcomes an international field to take on one of the more challenging courses on the PGA Tour. With lots of elevation changes and tree-lined fairways, the Copperhead Course proves a tough test. The three-hole closing stretch, dubbed the Snake Pit, determines the winner most years.