As the rising sun glistened among the dew heavy grass, my boys and I took our first swings on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Home of THE PLAYERS Championship, birthplace of the Tournament Players Club (TPC) and headquarters of the PGA tour, this golf course might just be the world’s most famous and most photographed golf course. And we had the Course to Ourselves courtesy of MasterCard and their World Elite MasterCard Priceless Golf Experiences.
Priceless Moments. Priceless Memories. Priceless Fun.
Priceless indeed! One of those moments in time you will always recall with sweet fondness. It was probably a typical TPC Sawgrass morning, but it felt anything but typical to us. This particular morning, there was a warm breeze in the air and ocean dew on the ground as we unloaded our clubs. I have the surreal emotions of excitement tinged with awe as I approach our carts for the day…lined up in front of the majestic Mediterranean-Style clubhouse…our names on each. I paused as my heart was filled with pure joy and gratitude…for this life, this day, and this morning. To be here, sharing this time with my son, HIMself and our friends…I thought to myself, “How did I get this lucky?”
I am still smiling as I write and remember every shot of our day playing TPC Sawgrass as VIP guests of MasterCard. Their World Elite MasterCard Priceless Golf Experiences program affords World and World Elite cardholders exclusive golfing perks like our “Course To Yourself” adventure, “PGA Tour Player Experience” and “Member for a Day.” I took loads of photographs and videos, to document the special occasion and to share our excitement with you.
We were greeted by Assistant Golf Professional Scott Peneau, PGA, our VIP Host for the day. He escorted us to the locker rooms where we each found our special locker and took a few minutes to take in the luxurious surroundings. I almost had to pinch myself at the thought of playing a course my parents would have been overjoyed just to walk. And here I was…about to play the course with my son. I believed somehow they were watching us.
Scott showed us into the beautiful breakfast room where a table had been reserved for us. We enjoyed an amazing breakfast served by a cheerful and attentive staff. We strolled outside to snap a few photos before we feasted on Golf Club Waffles, Non-Traditional Eggs Benedict, Breakfast Burritos, and oatmeal.
Practice Before The Stadium Course
Soon we were off to the practice range and putting green accompanied by our phenomenal TPC caddie, John. He is a senior caddie who has carried the clubs of Vijay Singh, Fred Funk, PGA Tour Legend Calvin Peete, and countless others. I was spoiled for ever playing without a caddie as I could actually find my ball with his assistance. He guided my boys to pretty amazing scores on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course, built specifically to challenge the pros. Always included as one of America’s toughest golf courses, Golf Digest’s calls it, “A beast of a course that tests every part of one’s game, especially the part between your ears.”
As we approached our Tee time, we were each given a beautiful bronze TPC Sawgrass bag tag engraved with our names and a special MasterCard TPC bag tag. The first time you play a TPC course with MasterCard, you are given a large bag tag with a smaller tag from that course. As you play other TPC courses, you will collect additional small tags to add to your ring.
Playing TPC Sawgrass with My Boys
I took a deep breath as we were about to walk in the footsteps of the world’s greatest players. I wanted to savor every glorious minute. The sky was a deep blue and the course was an amazing array of green hues…the stage for a perfectly amazing day of priceless golf as we approached the first tee.
Enjoying the MasterCard Premium cardholders exclusive access to the first tee time available to the public on July 22, 2013, we headed to the first tee. I created a little video of our time as there were too many priceless moments to share individual photos.
My boys agree that it is even harder in person than it appears on TV. The notorious par-3, 17th hole, featuring an island green that makes or breaks many a PGA TOUR pro’s round, was a wee bit challenging for me. The boys all made the green…no problem. Me? I made the water! 🙂 You might be wondering how 5 of us played. Well, as I am recovering from an earlier golfing injury to my shoulder, I was unable to play the entire 18 holes. However, Scott gave me special permission to play 17 with the boys. It was memorable, to say the least, as I was a tad in awe shall we say. It made for a good laugh and a better story!!
Some four hours after we began, we found ourselves on the beautiful 18th hole looking toward the magnificent clubhouse. I became a little wistful as the boys putted out and I snapped the breathtaking views on the final hole of TPC Sawgrass.
But we were not finished with the VIP treatment. We headed to the locker rooms to shower before our storytelling tour of the clubhouse.
The Mediterranean-Style, 77,000 square foot clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass is a majestic centerpiece for the club, providing TOUR-standard hospitality to members and guests alike. Blending elegant, old world charm with modern, upscale amenities, the clubhouse features a variety of dining options, an expansive gallery, beautifully appointed banquet and meeting space and a world-class golf shop. The clubhouse is open for the public to enjoy and discover, with storyteller docents on hand to help every guest explore the club’s wide array of PGA TOUR memorabilia.
SInce our storytelling tour is worthy of its own page, I will share it with you in the near future. You will not believe where we were able to go!!!!
Priceless Golf Memories
My boys and I are deeply grateful to MasterCard and TPC Sawgrass for providing us an unprecedented and oh so priceless golf and life experience.