TPC Sawgrass: Dye’s Valley of Opportunity for You & Me.

Golf Writer Andy Reistetter continues his exclusive “Play-Write” series with a round of golf on the Valley Course the day after the 2011 Nationwide Tour’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open presented by Planters. A course he is familiar with and plays often. Play along with Reistetter as writes about how different the set-up is for a professional golf tournament and what he discovers new about TPC Sawgrass’ “other” golf course.

Dye’s Valley of Opportunity.
What is a valley anyways?
This is Florida, doesn’t there have to be mountains for it to be a valley?

Yes, the first definition of a valley is an elongated depression between uplands, hills, or mountains, especially one following the course of a stream.

Well there’s definitely water in Dye’s Valley.

But the second definition makes more geographical sense- an extensive, more or less flat, and relatively low region drained by a great river system.

Well the nearby St. Johns River is the longest river in the state of Florida.

But it seems like Dye’s Valley doesn’t drain to anywhere in particular.

Water from above seems to seep down into the sandy soil quite nicely without any runoff to the river.

The third definition of a valley (as provided by is any depression or hollow resembling a valley.

Now I am confused- are we talking about a relatively big valley like the ones you feel off the tees on Nos. 6, 7, 8 on the front or Nos. 12, 13, 16 and 17 on the back?

Or perhaps the name of Dye’s Valley refers to the miniature valleys, bumps and hollows surrounding nearly every green?

So much for playing “if, ands, and butts,” let’s get into the opportunity side of Dye’s Valley of Opportunity for you and me.

Well, let’s start with them- those that are more proficient at the game of golf than you or I.

Back in 1988, Dye’s Valley hosted the Senior PLAYERS Championship.

Billy Casper, a dedicated family man with peculiar eating habits won on a Sunday in June that year.

Twenty years earlier he dedicated his book The New Billy Casper, More Important Things in Life than Golf to his daughter Linda.

That cute little girl once said “I guess Sundays are for mommies and their little girls to go to church while daddies go to the golf course.”

Things change in life and golf I guess… now families go to church on Saturday evenings and play golf together on Sunday mornings.

When kids grow up and leave the nest it is time for “senior” golfers to head to the golf course.

In 1989 on Dye’s Valley it was Orville Moody winning the Senior PLAYERS crown.

Moody was the first guy to win consistently with the long putter or what was known as “the broomstick” back then.

Orville Who?
The Army sergeant from Killeen, Texas.
The guy who met a Marine from Dallas Texas for the first time in Okinawa, Japan.
Moody then dusted his little Texas brother, the Merry Mex, in the Far East All-Service Championship.
Moody shot a 64 on Saturday to win by two strokes on Sunday over Charles Coody and won $105,000.
Another golfer by the name of Gavin Hall shot a 64 on Saturday on the same course on his 17th birthday and went on to win the 2011 Junior PLAYERS championship.
What will be his destiny?
Hall, one of the top rated junior golfers, earned a spot in the field in the Nationwide Tour’s Winn Dixie Jacksonville Open on Dye’s Valley.
The AJGA star shot 75-73 and missed the cut by five strokes.
Another Gavin shot 64 in Round 2 and held on down the stretch to win the same tournament.
Gavin Coles, the only player in PGA TOUR history to earn a tour card for a fourth time this year won $108,000 for his fifth career Nationwide Tour victory.
Coles who made $3,000 more than Moody did 22 years earlier, moved to No. 15 on the Nationwide Money List and a PGA Tour card for 2012.
There is no doubt there is opportunity for ranked amateur and professional golfers on Dye’s Valley.
What opportunity awaits us mere golfers on Dye’s Valley the day-after?
An opportunity to play and experience the same challenge as the professionals faced while competing in a pivotal tournament on the Nationwide Tour schedule.
This was to be no ordinary round of golf.
I was more than excited after four days and nights of Dye’s Valley.
During the day I was assigned to do (provide) yardages for Golf Channel’s on course reporter Kay Cockerill.
During the night I would watch the DVR replay of the tournament.
It’s fun, exciting and revealing to watch a tournament on television being played on a golf course you are familiar with.
You see the golf course and its challenges from a different perspective.
Listening to expert analysis you learn the secrets to its design.
Hope emerges even for the amateur that knowing her better, you can understand her better and enjoy the challenge in a more intimate and fulfilling manner.
I was mesmerized by the beauty of Dye’s Valley- the shadows in the valleys giving tone and texture to her beauty. The reflections of the tall pine, hearty oak and graceful palm trees in the body of her waters caused me to see her in another light.
Being on course with the feature and final groups one realizes it isn’t all fairways and greens with putts dropping left, center and right.
Coles’ victory came from perseverance, especially on the final day with difficult hole locations and the ever-present though changing ocean breezes.
The 43-year old veteran would hack it out of the rough on 16 then get it up-and-down to save par. A birdie on the par-5 16th and another on the converted par-5 to par-4 17th by virtue of a heroic putt brought him to the 18th with a two-stroke lead over playing partner Jonas Blixt.
Playing the home hole safe and smart was enough, even with a three-putt for victory by the slimmest of margins.
Could I do this with my own game?
The course setup is there for everyone to see so it follows that it is fair and a good competitive test.
Gavin Cole commented on the 8th and 17th, both par-5 made par-4 holes: “It’s just a number (they say), (it) doesn’t matter how difficult the green (complexes) are.”
There are valleys around those greens.
The day-after the par on the 8th and 17th is five- that’s the number I know.
Were the fairways made narrower for the tournament?
This I am not sure, perhaps the 15th was the only one with a significant difference?
I am not sure if the five foot first cut collars emerged from the fairway or the rough?
I do know the fairways and especially the greens were “firmer and faster” than I had ever before experienced.
The rough was definitely higher and my latest competitive thought to follow the flight and path of all the golf balls I hit came in handy in terms of “search and rescue” missions when my balls flew in unintended directions.
Playing the same Sunday hole locations was definitely a treat and added to the reenactment of a wonderful tournament week.
Skill level and scoring proficiency excluded from the above comment, of course… on the course.
I know myself and my location better than ever on the expertly designed golf course.
With two loops in different directions- the front nine being clockwise and the back nine being counter clockwise, it is easy to get disoriented.
Throw in the relatively flat topography spread out over a very large area and one is as lost as sea as Gilligan, Skipper and his compatriots.
Which wind direction do you believe?
The grass clippings dropped in front of your eyes, the tops of the towering pines or the overall, predominant and verified wind direction?
It takes a compass to know where you are heading. Even though a valley there are no mountaintops to see and gauge location.
The results of my endeavor to play Dye’s Valley the day-after the pros did?
Not my best round ever though only three strokes off it.
I managed to hit the first five greens, six of the first seven and suffered only three three-putts.
The driver got me into trouble on three holes- way left on No. 6, ditto No. 8 and water right on No. 10.
With only five fairways hit, nine greens in regulation and 35 putts I would keep my day job if I had one.
My lone birdie came on the 17th and yes it was a score of four- par for them, birdie for me.
It was a magical round on a perfect day in my life.
As one often does at TPC Sawgrass I made two new golfing friends- two snowbirds named Dan and Bob.
After this week and this round I also realized that I am in love with Dye’s Valley.
Now what do I tell the Stadium?