Issue 18, May 3 2015

The Players is here!!! Or, is it: The Players are here? Well, they’ll start arriving Monday, anyway.

I consider The Players to be Jacksonville’s premier annual event. No, I’m not taking anything away from the importance and effect that the Jaguars have on our city. But when people throughout the country, and even the world, think about the best single event of northeast Florida, The Players easily rises to the top. Monster Jam does come in a strong second…but I digress.

And no, I’m not giving Ponte Vedra any credit for this. If you look at any map, north east St. Johns County should really be part of Duval County. I believe Pedro Menendez annexed it when he ‘displaced’ the Huguenots…but again, I digress.

The Players, fields the best golfers in the world for one event. It pulls from the PGA, the Champions, and the tours. It has a total purse of $10,000,000 and a winning share of $1.8 million. It awards an incredible 600 FedEx points to the winner. (Only the Players, the Masters, the PGA, the U.S. and British Opens award this number of points.)

The Stadium Course was designed for large crowds. The organizers have done a great job evolving this tournament into an unparalleled spectator/interactive event. The bleachers have transformed over the years into immense platforms for the gallery. Small corporate huts have been replaced with grandiose structures. The highfalutin toilets are spectacular as well.

This year, SBMC will be under the trees at the ‘Taste of Jax’ dining district, between the 11th and 12th. SBMC member, John Davoli has graciously partnered with us to help work his Metro Diner location there. This will be the opposite of what our volunteers experienced last year, and more similar to what it was years earlier. If you are working this event on our behalf, I would like to extend a sincere ‘Thanks’.

My favorite story about this course is of the construction of the 17th hole (aka the Island Green). Designer Pete Dye’s original design was for it to be a simple par-3 hole with a small pond to one side. However, they kept having to remove more and more of the alluvial soil to fill in swampy areas throughout the rest of the course. To Pete’s chagrin, his wife Alice suggested just making the intended the whole thing be a big lake. The rest is history.

I recently spoke with Sandy Mcfiddish, the Head Groundskeeper at The Stadium Course. During our conversation he noted that the biggest enemies to the Stadium Course’s turf maintenance program are the intense Florida sun rays and gophers. In fact, he was instructing one of his grounds crewmen to eradicate all the little brown furry rodents from the course, before the start of the tournament…but I digress, again.

Now, you don’t have to be a scratch golfer or an avid fan, to attend this event. It is a fantastic way for anyone to enjoy a beautiful landscape while sharing quality time with your friends and/or clients that you want to impress. The clubhouse is second to none in opulence and appeal. This event makes neither excuses, nor apologies, to anyone, for any reason. The good people of Sawgrass went as far as to change the date of the event, so that you can take your mom to watch golf on Mother’s Day. If she doesn’t like golf (what?!) then you can go the tournament, and let her have a day of rest.

Finally, for many years now, The Players has been the unofficial ‘5th major’ of professional golf. I can’t understand how a tournament with this level of importance had not achieved ‘major’ status, previously. Therefore, by the powers vested in me as President of the Southside Business Men’s Club, I proclaim: The Players is the 5th Major tournament of professional golf.

Easy peasy. I wonder why someone didn’t do this before. Also, I charge our members (who have connections with the PGA) to forward my declaration onto the proper authorities for compliance.

It’s good to be ki…president.

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