05/13/2016

Amazing as it seems, it’s already time for the Players Championship. Before we could barely settle in, Jason Day fired off a 63, tying the TPC Sawgrass course record.

While Day stole Thursday’s headlines and people are still buzzing about Rickie Fowler’s finish in 2015, the star of the Players never changes: No. 17, the devilish little par-three.

Here’s what we wrote about the isthmus green back around Halloween when we ranked it the second scariest hole in golf.

Let’s start with the water, which surrounds the green on this par-3 to give it the appearance of an island (and as we all know, it’s really an isthmus). You can avoid it with your shot, but not with your mind. It’s everywhere and the large crowds that stand in the background only add to the oceanic feel to the hole. You are alone.

Then you add 17’s place in the round. It’s the penultimate stop, the one that causes you to press at the holes preceding and succeeding it. The PLAYERS Championship wouldn’t be the same without it. Neither would golf.

If you think No. 17 should have been No. 1 consider that the top spot on that list went to a hole that did this to Jordan Spieth.

And besides, just last year the Bryan Bros made a mockery of No. 17. George Bryan IV and Wesley Bryan, both South Carolina grads, have been making trick-shot videos for years. They’ve become popular by hitting wedges off bounces, passing the ball back and forth and generally exploring the limits of the sport. Who knows how many takes they go through each video? And, frankly, who cares?

In 2015, the duo took their talents to TPC Sawgrass to see what they could do on the vaunted 17th hole. The specialists delivered again.

Some thoughts:

  • Wesley’s shot definitely took a few swings. George is more relieved than he is excited.
  • It’s interesting to see Wesley take a step forward into the ball. In that regard, his swings is more like a baseball swing than a golf swing. And yet he still manages to hit the ball in the sweet spot.
  • The bounce likely aids the success the success of the shot. Without the friction of grass or the ground, Wesley can add more spin. As a result, the ball travels on a truer path and will catch the slope better.
  • I don’t hate the idea of moving the tee box from place to place to create more creative angles and distances. George might be on to something

While that was all in good fun, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Wesley’s other stardom: the guy can actually play. This season, he leads the Web.com money list and he’s already clinched a PGA Tour Card for 2017. It’s quite an achievement.

The Bryan Bros’ plight should remind us of an important lesson especially as we watch pros splash ball after ball into the waters surrounding TPC Sawgrass: this sport was meant to be fun.