What are a player's relief options if they hit their ball in the water at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass?

What are a player’s relief options if they hit their ball in the water at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass?

A picture of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass Credit: Chris Condon

At The Players Championship, there are always going to be at least some pro golfers who hit their ball in the water at the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

There's never been a round in the history of The Players at TPC Sawgrass in which at least one player didn't find the water. The record for the fewest balls in the water in a single round on the 17th is one in the 2014 third round.

When a player hits their ball in the water at No. 17, though, they have to make an interesting decision about what to do next. It doesn't matter how or where a player's ball goes in the water -- long, short, to the side, off a bulkhead, rolling through the green or spinning off the front. No matter what, that ball is gone and won't be hit again. The water is just too deep.

That means a player who hits their ball in the water has to take a penalty stroke. The water surrounding the green is considered a yellow stake hazard or penalty area, meaning that a player cannot simply drop within two clublengths of where the ball went in the water (besides, that would be back in the water for most golfers) as would be the case with a lateral red stake hazard. A player who hits their ball in the water at No. 17 has two choices for how to take relief:

  1. They can re-tee the ball and hit another shot from the teeing ground, trying to find the green in three shots, or
  2. They can go to the tournament-designated drop zone, drop the ball in the drop circle with a penalty stroke and then try to hit the green from there

The drop zone on the par-3 17th hole is an approximately 80-yard shot with an awkward angle situated to the left of the tee box for the hole and the green complex. Frankly, it's a better choice to hit the tee shot again with a straight-on longer shot than an 80-yard shot off turf with a tougher angle.

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Ryan Ballengee

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