Best places to cool off
Need to beat the heat? All of the locations below are open to grounds ticket holders and give you a chance to take a break from the action -- and the sun -- while enjoying the atmosphere that is uniquely THE PLAYERS.
• The Stadium Village is completely tented and air-conditioned, making it the ultimate destination when you need to cool off. While you're there, enjoy a variety of interactive activities, the Verizon Social Lounge with wireless internet access and cell phone charging stations, high-end restrooms and a cash bar, as well as PwC's First Tee Challenge -- a replica of the famous 17th island green. New this year, the Stadium Village will feature a Ketel One Vodka Bar at the center of the venue, providing a cool spot for grabbing a drink with friends and shopping around the village for THE PLAYERS clothing and memorabilia.
• New in 2012, The Oasis is an open-air tent located between 9 and 18 tee boxes. The Oasis was once just a regular old -- but popular -- concession area. Now, not only does it have concession stands, but also plenty of shade. New this year will be the enclosed, air-conditioned NOLET'S Silver Lounge, which is open to all fans ages 21 and over. The entire Oasis area is in a prime location that overlooks tee shots on 18 and the 9th fairway.
• Take a seat and cool off -- literally! New this year are Cooling Benches provided by Jacksonville-based Athletic Recovery Zone. These are the same air-conditioned benches you see on the sidelines of a Jacksonville Jaguars game - high velocity cool air circulates around the benches to create a curtain of cool air from the ground up. The benches will be near The Patio, at First Aid by No. 12 tee, at First Aid by The Benefactor and near the Food Court.
Where to be seen
Everyone who's anyone is at THE PLAYERS -- and if you've been at least once, you know that No. 17 is a major hub of activity. But check out these other hotspots and you'll be sure to run into someone you know -- or want to know. Just don't forget to return to the action out on the course at some point!
• Of the new venues debuting in 2012, put Wine & Dine on 9 at the top of your list. It's got plenty of shade to enjoy, stellar food from Medure and top-of-the-line varietals from BERINGER.
• The No. 1 tee is your chance to be seen by friends and family -- and possibly a worldwide television audience. Be part of the crowd when the best players in the world tee off and you just might make the Golf Channel or NBC broadcast.
• After a day at TPC Sawgrass, take it to The Lot. Located just outside the Nicklaus Gate in Parking Lot 11 off of CR210, The Lot will certainly extend the social atmosphere well into the evening. Wednesday through Saturday of tournament week, different charitable organizations are hosting parties and functions to extend the fun for fans, and raise money for great local causes in the process.
Where to see the golfers
Don't roll your eyes -- yes, we know, "Duh, on the golf course," is the appropriate response. But where, exactly? Check out these sneaky locations to get up close to the action and as personal as possible to some of the best players in the world.
• True golf fans know that the Practice Area is a must-stop at THE PLAYERS. You can grab a spot up against the rope line and be thisclose to the world's best as they hone their craft...sometimes for hours on end, not to mention the fact that players usually stop and sign autographs as players come and go.
• Located on the Clubhouse side lawn, The Terrace gives you the best of both worlds: a great spot to relax with a cash bar (with mixed drinks), tables and umbrellas, as well as a unique view of the chipping green and practice area, where you can watch players warm up and work on their games -- and maybe pick up a tip or two.
• Another area where players let their guard down and interact with the fans is outside the Scoring Area. Players enter the scoring area located between the Clubhouse and the Stadium Village to sign their scorecards after they finish their rounds on Thursday-Sunday. This is one of the best places to hang out and collect player autographs.
Best chance for celebrity sightings
Sure, there's Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Rickie and the rest of the gang. But THE PLAYERS has its fair share of celebrities who are big fans of the world's best golfers, just like you. You never know who you'll see strolling along the rope line and enjoying the action, but here are a few additional locations where celebs flock throughout the week.
• Hang out near the Jaguar Den by No. 17 tee for a glimpse of some of your favorite former Jags, coaches and Jaxson De Ville as they relax and enjoy THE PLAYERS Championship.
• Don't miss Military Appreciation Day on Wednesday on the Clubhouse Lawn, where Luke Bryan will be performing. Local celebrities and TOUR players often attend the concert and mingle with the crowd, so keep your eyes peeled.
• While the Patriots' Outpost is open only to military personnel and their families, it's not a bad idea to hang out near the facility (located on the hill between No. 16 and No. 18 fairways), as dignitaries and celebrities are always stopping by to spend time with the troops. And even if you don't see someone you know, say hello to some of our local men and women in uniform -- who should be recognized, even if they're not famous.
Best family-friendly venues
THE PLAYERS is one of the best, most affordable family entertainment options going, and there's more to a day at TPC Sawgrass than the world-class golf (although we bet a glimpse of Phil Mickelson or Rickie Fowler will make your son's or daughter's eyes light up). Spend some time with the kids at one of these locations where they can have fun without worrying about anyone saying, "Quiet, please."
• How about a putt-putt course, an inflatable rock wall, bag toss (corn hole), face painting and temporary tattoos for the kids? Your kids may never want to leave the new Kid Zone by THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children's Hospital, and you'll be happy too, chilling out at the adult concession areas while you watch the television broadcast. Located at the end of the Nicklaus Gate walkway, the Kid Zone is a shaded, interactive place to take your kids when they're getting a little restless on the course. On Thursday, May 10, THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health will host a 'Health Fair' with interactive activities and giveaways for kids to learn about healthy eating, sun protection, hydration and much more.
• Experience the best of Stadium golf at the Stadium Village and PwC's First Tee Challenge -- a scaled version of the famous 17th hole where kids and adults alike can see just how difficult it is to reach the green. The area also includes video games from EA Sports, concessions, merchandise and outdoor seating -- where you can rest up before returning to the tournament action.
• No trip to THE PLAYERS would be complete -- especially for the kids -- without collecting a few autographs. Be sure to hang out in one of the "autograph alleys" for the best shot at snagging a prized signature from some of golf's greatest players. Autographs are encouraged near the Clubhouse, Practice Areas and the Scoring Area.
You need to cool off, and we've told you where to find the best shade and A/C. But an ice-cold drink is no doubt at the top of your list. Be the first to check out these deals, and your friends will think you're an insider.
• A limited-edition THE PLAYERS acrylic tumbler, filled to the brim with THE PLAYERS Signature Drink -- the Sawgrass Splash -- is available wherever spirits are sold. For $10, you'll get a 20-ounce Sawgrass Splash in a 2012 PLAYERS tumbler that features the tournament logo and a list of the past champions. The commemorative cup itself (with no beverage) is available for $5.
• Head to Stadium Village or The Patio and grab a brew from the Michelob ULTRA "Chill Chambers" -- state-of-the-art refrigeration systems that cool beer down to 22 degrees without freezing. Why should you care? Because the beer stays ultra cold an average of 17 minutes longer, and we all know that nothing beats an ice-cold beer when you're out in the sun.
• If you like the Sawgrass Splash, be sure to add PLAYERS Punch to your list of must-drinks. And since the recipe calls for NOLET'S Silver Dry Gin, there's no better place for a taste test than the NOLET'S Silver Lounge in The Oasis.
• Newsflash: it can be warm in Florida in May. Don't be that person in 2011 whose good time is ruined by dehydration. Drink water, lots of it. There are water fountains at the following locations to provide fans with FREE, quality H20: No. 5 green; No. 12 tee; at the practice putting green near No. 1 and at the Nicklaus Gate behind No. 17.
Best places to eat
With all there is to do and see at THE PLAYERS, chances are you'll be spending most of the day at TPC Sawgrass -- which means you're bound to get hungry at some point. No worries about that -- we've got you covered with a variety of tasty options located at concession areas around the golf course. Here are the top-three places to put on your radar screen come lunch time.
• Spearheaded by Matthew Medure, one of Northeast Florida's most renowned chefs, Wine & Dine on 9 needs to be on your lunch hit list. Not your typical sporting event fare, you can enjoy Medure's small plates, a nice glass of wine from BERINGER and the opportunity to take in your surroundings in style.
• If it's options you're after, The Food Court is calling your name. Located behind No. 16 green, there are plenty of choices sure to satisfy everyone in the family. Grab some classic concession favorites from the All-American Grill, or pick items from a favorite local restaurant. Back this year are Bono's Pit Bar-B-Q, Brucci's Pizza and Tropical Smoothie Café, who are joined by Food Court newcomers M Shack and Firehouse Subs. When everyone has what they're after, stake out a shady spot with tables and chairs at The Grove and enjoy a relaxing family meal.
• You already know the Stadium Village is the place to go for fun, games, shopping and chilling out. But it's also a great place to have lunch. Sample THE PLAYERS new signature sandwich, the Sawgrass Slider (pulled pork and coleslaw), grab a seat at the Ketel One Vodka Bar and keep an eye on the tournament action on one of the many TVs.
Best food deals
Hanging out at THE PLAYERS is an all-day affair and not one to enjoy on an empty stomach. After all, a hungry fan is an unhappy fan. Here's a list of the best grub for the best price.
• Calling all families! Plan ahead and purchase The Family Plan package, which offers two adult tickets, unlimited youth tickets and a $20 food voucher that can be redeemed at any concession area.
• A new signature sandwich makes its debut at THE PLAYERS this year. The Sawgrass Slider was created by the culinary team at TPC Sawgrass and will be served during the tournament at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse and all concessions. The slider is a delicious combination of pulled pork and from-scratch coleslaw, with a side of chips. It's a taste of Southern hospitality for only $9.
• Now that you can bring your cell phone to THE PLAYERS, stay connected with the event via social media and you could be handsomely rewarded! Ponte Vedra Beach High School students will be acting as "social media caddies" throughout tournament week, encouraging fans to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to receive exclusive food and drink offers.
Don't laugh. We know you care, that's why THE PLAYERS invested more than $250,000 in upgrading the bathroom facilities for this year's tournament.
• No port-o-lets here. The restrooms at the Stadium Village are top-of-the-line, luxury facilities that feature air conditioning, running water and bathroom attendants. Freshen up and get back in the game.
• Wine & Dine on 9, The Grove and The Patio also offer premium, structured restroom facilities, giving you one more reason to spend some time at these locations.
THE PLAYERS is already Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach's ultimate fashion show, but why not add to your closet collection with a few carefully selected items that are uniquely THE PLAYERS? Since all the merchandise is fabulous, these recommendations are more about strategy than specifics.
• When you first arrive at THE PLAYERS, immediately stop at THE PLAYERS Shop at 17 as you enter the Nicklaus Gate, at the end of the Walk of Champions. Stock up on all the necessities for a day at the course - hats, sunscreen, and one or two limited-edition items with THE PLAYERS 2012 logo that might not be there by day's end, like Tervis Tumbers, Vineyard Vines ties, commemorative PLAYERS pin flags, lapel pins and collector's coins. You also want to make sure you check out the latest fashionable hats and t-shirts that may set the trend for THE PLAYERS.
• Mid-day head over to Stadium Village and cool off in the A/C while browsing the 6,200 square-foot PLAYERS Shop. You can check your merchandise with an attendant and pick it up at the end of the day, so no worries about lugging around your loot.
• If you've got a Clubhouse ticket, you'll want to hit up the award winning, Best 100 Golf Shop at TPC Sawgrass as well as to check out everything from PLAYERS merchandise to TPC Sawgrass keepsakes. The TPC Sawgrass Golf Shop features adidas, Cutter&Buck, Greg Norman, Nike, Oxford, Under Armour, Peter Millar, Fairway & Greene, Dunning, Polo, Sport Haley, Bobby Jones and J. Lindeberg.
Best views of 17
You know you're going to spend some time -- probably a lot of time -- at the hill overlooking No. 17. And if you do, be on the lookout for concessionaires walking among the crowd selling cold beverages (think, "Get your ice cold beer here!"), so you don't have to leave your seat! But where else can you best experience all that this world-famous par 3 has to offer?
• The Benefactor is an upgraded ticket, but the view doesn't get any better than from the second floor of this shared hospitality venue. And when you're looking out over the 17th tee with an ice-cold drink and a snack, you may never want to leave.
• It's easy to find a great seat on Wednesday at No. 17, where you won't want to miss the little-known but much-enjoyed Caddie Contest. Each year at THE PLAYERS during the Wednesday practice round, players and caddies switch roles when they arrive at the famous 17th hole, and the caddies get the opportunity to take a swing. This is great tradition unique to THE PLAYERS and one that provides an added layer of entertainment for the fans, players and caddies alike.
• Post up at the hedges behind No. 17 tee. You'll need to get there early to grab a spot, but it's worth the effort. You'll hear plenty of interaction between players and caddies on club selection -- and you'll be part of the "oohs" and "aahs" as their ball hits the green... or splashes in the water.
• An underrated spot to watch golf within the natural amphitheater near the 17th hole is on the hill behind the 16th green. Here you get to see players take aim at the risk/reward par-5 16th hole and still get to watch them take on the famous island green at the 17th.
Best views of golf NOT at 17
With all that's going on in the new venues at THE PLAYERS, don't forget to venture out on the golf course to really soak up the action. Here's a quick list of sneaky spots (read: less crowded) that offer great views of this world-class event.
• If you're one of the first to show up at The Bluff each day, we'll give you a comfy chair -- at no charge -- and you can stake out a prime location at No. 18 green for the entire day. And if you're in your chair when the last putt drops at the end of each day, you can take it home! Need more of an incentive? You can enjoy a great view of one of the best finishing holes in golf, while as wait staff take your food and drink orders so you never have to leave the action.
• No. 2 green/No. 3 tee is one of the spots on the course where you can catch the best players on the PGA TOUR deciding whether to go for the par 5 in two shots or lay up; and then you can keep an eye on them as they head over to the next tee to take on the 177-yard par 3.
• On a course known for risk vs. reward, the par 5 11th hole might be the one that offers players with the most decisions of all. Players have two separate fairways to which they can lay up with their second shot... or you can egg them on into going for the green in two.
• The mound between the 10th tee and the 16th tee is a great spot to catch two different tee shots during play.
• The 13th green offers a more intimate setting to see players hit into a par three than the 17th. There are several areas around the green and tee that get you close to the action.
What not to bring
You've got sunscreen. Sunglasses. Your fashionable hat. All the things needed to make a statement and have a blast at THE PLAYERS. But what shouldn't you bring to the golf course?
• Once the tournament starts on Thursday, don't get sent back to your car because you brought a camera. While taking photos is permitted -- encouraged! -- Monday through Wednesday, any budding shutterbugs will need to leave the equipment at home once the competition gets underway.
• Kids (6 years and older) to a hospitality venue without a ticket. Yes, kids get in free to THE PLAYERS with a ticketed adult -- but this policy applies to grounds tickets only. If you're planning to spend some time in The Turn or The Benefactor, for example -- and we hope that you do -- and if your child is 6 years of age or older, they'll also need one of these upgraded tickets to gain admission.
• We've got plenty of places to sit and tons of shady spots with umbrella tables, but if you want to bring your own chair or umbrella (just in case), here's a tip for avoiding a common rookie fan mistake: leave the cases or covers for those items in your car, as those are prohibited items.
• Purses or bags larger than 6" x 6". Travel light and leave the duffel bag-slash-purse at home.
How to stay connected
Worried about missing a call while you're at THE PLAYERS? We have an app for that. The PGA TOUR unveiled a new cell phone policy in 2011, meaning you no longer have to worry about separation anxiety because you were forced to leave your mobile device at home. Here's how to make the most of your PLAYERS experience without unplugging.
• Running low on juice? New this year, THE PLAYERS has teamed up with Verizon and JEA to offer free cell phone charging stations. Fans can plug in their phones or mobile devices in The Benefactor, The Turn and Stadium Village. The charging stations in Stadium Village are solar powered, thanks to JEA.
• Download the PGA TOUR's official app for your iPhone or Android smartphones and get access live scores, stats and video as well as highlights from the event. For those iPad lovers, the new PGA TOUR iPad application offers a unique live video and stats experience for fans at TPC Sawgrass. Any fan with an internet enabled phone can also find the live scoring, stats and video highlights at mobile.pgatour.com.
• Remember these Dos and Don'ts: Put your phone on silent; use designated areas throughout the golf course when making or receiving phone calls (check the course map); don't use your mobile device for video recording at any time during the week; only use your mobile device to take photos Monday through Wednesday.
Best place/best strategy for getting players' autographs
While we can't discount the ultimate strategy for getting tons of autographs -- be a cute kid and say "please" -- these tactics will definitely increase your chance for success, no matter your age.
• Hang out in an "autograph alleys." Post up at near the Clubhouse, Practice Areas and the Scoring Area, as these locations are where players tend to stay until the last request is satisfied. Players are much more apt to stop and sign in these areas as opposed to when they're out on the golf course.
• During the practice rounds, follow the same group for a couple of holes. Rather than the Johnny-Come-Latelys who just show up with the mob of autograph hounds, players will often reward those dedicated fans who have stuck with them for an hour or so; you'd be surprised how often a player will make a point to thank you for following along all day.
• Make a statement (a good one, of course). Take a cue from Choi's Bois and wear matching shirts that support your favorite player; last year, after KJ Choi won, he rewarded his mini-fan club by inviting them onto the green for a photo. So wear a "Phil is my Phavorite" t-shirt. Get six of your best friends to join you and shave the letters "A-K-4-E-V-E-R" into the backs of your heads. Dress up in total Ian Poulter gear and spike your hair. Just be respectful, creative and bring a Sharpie.
Best travel tips for THE PLAYERS
They say getting there is half the battle, right? Here are a few quick travel tips to make sure you arrive in style to THE PLAYERS 2012.
• The best way to access the public parking lot is via SR-210 from Nocatee Parkway. Trust us, you'll avoid the congestion and delays that are typical of A1A and spend more time enjoying the tournament. And be sure to purchase your parking in advance (and online) for Thursday-Sunday to avoid any back-ups in the parking lot or, worse yet, the prospect of being turned away once parking is sold out.
• If you live close by, ride your bike to the tournament and use our "bike valet" off ATP Tour Boulevard Thursday through Sunday of tournament week. A $5 donation is suggested, which benefits the North Florida MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Chapter. And even if you don't live near TPC Sawgrass, meet up with friends at a nearby park or business and "bike-pool" to the tournament.