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TPC Sawgrass: Dye's Valley of Opportunity for You and Me

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IOctober 30, 2011

Dye's Valley, together with Winn Dixie is new to the Nationwide Tour and a complete success after only two years.
Dye's Valley, together with Winn Dixie is new to the Nationwide Tour and a complete success after only two years.

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 setup is for a professional golf tournament and what he discovers new about TPC Sawgrass's "other" golf course.

Dye's Valley of Opportunity.

What is a valley anyway?

This is Florida. Doesn't there have to be mountains for it to be a valley?

Not necessarily true.

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

And 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.

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

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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.

Is Dye's valley named after the valley on the 12th hole?
Is Dye's valley named after the valley on the 12th hole?

The third definition of a valley (as provided by Dictionary.com) 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. six, seven, and eight 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 buts." Let's get to 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 me.

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.

20 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."

Billy Casper playing in the 2005 Masters Tournament.
Billy Casper playing in the 2005 Masters Tournament.David Cannon/Getty Images

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 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 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.

He went on to win the 2011 Junior PLAYERS championship. What will be his destiny?

Orville Moody's grip on his "broomstick" in 2005.
Orville Moody's grip on his "broomstick" in 2005.A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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 Two 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 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.

Or is the 13th valley the namesake of the course?
Or is the 13th valley the namesake of the course?

At 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 it better, you can understand it 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's victory came from perseverance, especially on the final day with difficult hole locations and the ever-present, 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-five 16th  and another on the converted par-five to par-four 17th by virtue of a heroic putt brought him to the 18th with a two-stroke lead over playing partner Jonas Blixt.

There are many valleys around all of the greens (no. 14 shown here)- perhaps the name should be Dye's 18 Valleys?
There are many valleys around all of the greens (no. 14 shown here)- perhaps the name should be Dye's 18 Valleys?

Playing the home hole safely and smartly 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 eighth and 17th, both par-five made par-four 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 eighth and 17th was five.

Were the fairways made narrower for the tournament?

I am not sure, but 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.

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.

Dye's Valley looking back from the 13th green.
Dye's Valley looking back from the 13th green.

Playing the same Sunday hole locations was definitely a treat and added to the re-enactment of a wonderful tournament week.

Skill level and scoring proficiency excluded from the above comment, of 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 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 through 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 beauty of Dye's Valley is immense... shown here is the signature par-3 5th hole.
The beauty of Dye's Valley is immense... shown here is the signature par-3 5th hole.

The driver got me into trouble on three holes—way left on six, ditto on eight 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 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 I am in love with Dye's Valley.

Now what do I tell the Stadium?

To read more articles in Golf Writer Andy Reistetter's exclusive "Play-Write" series, here is a sampling of five more:

1. Daniel Island Club (Charleston, SC): Home of the Nationwide Tour Championship and the Charm of Charleston, South Carolina

2. St. Johns Golf & Country Club (St. Augustine, FL): On the Road to the PGA TOUR

3. TPC Four Seasons (Las Colinas, TX): Home of the HP Byron Nelson Classic

4. Cog Hill Dubsdread (Lemont, IL): Deserving of a Future U.S. Open

5. Greenbrier's Old White Course (White Sulphur Springs, W VA): A Charles Blair Macdonald Masterpiece enveloped with the essence of Slammin' Sammy Snead at America's Resort

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. He spends time on all four major American golf tours—the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.

Reistetter resides within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached by email at AndyReistetter@gmail.com.

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