Why Tiger Woods Chose Ponte Vedra: The Gate

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

Where can a PGA Tour player find refuge from the cares of the outside world?  Where can he have some measure of protection if needing or wanting to speak his piece, without being hassled?  Where can he rustle up television cameras and a satellite uplink to send his message out to the world and find a secure place to deliver the message? 

More importantly, where can a guy like Tiger Woods do all these things and KNOW that no unauthorized person will be allowed to disrupt him?  PGA Tour HQ,  that’s where, because the offices, golf courses, TPC Sawgrass clubhouse and more are about a half mile down the road and one left turn beyond The Gate. 

The Players Club side of Sawgrass is like many similar communities all over the US and probably the world.  You need a sticker, a pass, a tee time, a luncheon engagement, PGA Tour employee decal, a yard to mow, a pool to clean or a mother may I from a property owner to get beyond The Gate.   

For those reasons, Tiger Woods’ mea culpa took place in Ponte Vedra Beach. It was not quite at headquarters, but a drive and a wedge beyond the headquarters buildings. 

As reported, the clubhouse is also about a mile away from the Sawgrass Marriott where reporters could have watched the television feed, had they wanted too. I know these distances are accurate because twice a week, I walk from my house almost to The Gate and back, a distance of about three miles.

Not just me, of course.  I’m out there with other walkers,  runners, dog walkers, people on bicycles, and occasionally kids on skateboards.  It’s two miles from my house to the mailbox in the shopping center across from the Marriott entrance. 

I don’t walk that distance.  I drive it, the epitome of laziness. I might ride a bike, but I’ve been too busy to get the flat tires fixed. It's exactly one mile from my driveway to the entrance of PGA Tour HQ.  

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The Gate is the same one I use when I go to and from my health club, grocery shopping at Publix or to pick up a prescription from CVS. 

And if I hadn’t had a meeting in Georgia this morning, I could have taken 25 cameras and walked or driven them down to the junction of PGA Tour Blvd and the clubhouse drive and just had a field day becoming a one person paparazzi.force field. Could have taken video cameras and u-tubed it. 

Could have checked off and counted cars as they entered and left...I imagined a string of black Suburbans like they use when a President plays at the Bob Hope tournament.

I don’t know if "ordinary" people were kept out out of the clubhouse drive this morning. On a typical day, I can drive into the clubhouse parking lot and have lunch. You can bet that all but FOT were kept out today.  

All that was fine with me.  I arrived for my meeting south of Savannah in time to have a cup of coffee and, like millions of people all over the world, we all watched Tiger’s 13- minute soliloquy. Then we went about our business. 

So rather than be the media gnat buzzing on the exterior, which as a resident I would have had a perfect right to be, I was happy to go north on I-95, secure in the knowledge that of everyone who wanted to get in, I was happy on this day, to get out.  Besides GWAA was boycotting, and as a member since 1984, it seemed like the right thing to do.  

One thing I did notice leaving the north security gate – the south one is pictured above – was that there were guards standing around outside as cars left.  That never happens.  Other that that, the weather was almost back to normal, and it was a beautiful day.  We had to stop twice for school bus pick ups, and then it was no stops until I left I-95. 

As it’s Friday, on my return home, I donned walking shoes and headed out the door, up the road, south on the sidewalk down PGA Tour Blvd. toward PGA Tour headquarters.  It looked like any day.  People were jogging, wearing earbuds and ipods. Dogs were walking their owners. People were coming home from work. You would never have known that it was the site of 13 minutes heard round the world.