Few holes in golf bring so much fear as the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. It’s all mental. At just 137 yards the par 3 should be a slam dunk. For most PGA Tour professionals they would hit this large green 95 out of 100 times. It should be an automatic par or birdie.
So why is this hole consistently one of the hardest in golf? Well, the green is completely surrounded by water. The island green rattles the nerves of the most tested names in golf. Woods, Michelson, Els,
and Garcia all quake as they approach the hole.
Leaders have won the tournament on this hole and leaders have lost the tournament on this hole. It is one of the few holes that TV commentators keep a running, career tally of how players have done on the hole. Phil Michelson is +15 on the hole in his professional career.
They key to the mental anxiety of this hole is an island about 60 yards to the right of the tee box. This acts as a visual trick. Players eyes lie to them about the hole based on that island tree. Players who ignore that and ignore the sucker pin on Sunday’s do well just hitting the ball 140 to the center of the green.
Players who come to the hole looking to make a statement or take a risk are often rewarded with a new ball and a pitch from the drop zone.
It’s the same in life. Life often puts a sucker pin and a floating tree to distract you from you. Those who succeed admire the game, admire the sucker pins temptation, and the floating tree is just an amusement.
What’s your sucker pin? What’s your floating tree?