Your Ponte Vedra Beach travel guide for the Players Championship
Find yourself in Ponte Vedra Beach for the Players Championship this week? Lucky you. Expect high temperatures and great golf. Yes, this is one of the best tournaments of the year because the field and the course is top notch. But the location is prime as well. Here’s how to get the most out of your trip to Ponte Vedra Beach.
US PGA TOUR
There are a few ways to get to the course. If you rented a car, be sure to get your parking pass in advance. If you are traveling with four or more people (safely) in your car, parking is complimentary. Just print out the carpool voucher in advance and slide right into the general lot.
The second way to get to the course is via car share. The tournament has a system with Uber that will shuttle you to the course if you take a car to Sawgrass Marriott. Going home, there is a designated Uber pick up area at the Davis Love III Entry. Just beware of those post-round surge fares.
Ten dollar round-trip shuttles also leave every few hours from area hotels—Jacksonville Landing, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville and DoubleTree Riverfront.
Lastly, golf cart parking is free at TPC Sawgrass. We bow down to you if that is your preferred mode of transportation.
Friday’s forecast is in the high 80s, so if you’re headed to the course make sure you’re hydrated and stocked up on sunscreen. You don’t want to be that guy that gets sun poisoning on the first day of the trip and has to stay in the hotel for the rest of the weekend.
Instead of sweating it out on the course, head for the beach. Green Room Brewing is an excellent venue to cool off with some locally-made beer. If water sports are your thing, Palm Valley Outdoors will hook you up with fishing, paddleboard or kayak supplies. Book a fishing tour in advance to reel in a big one.
If you didn’t catch anything big enough for dinner, the 619 Ocean View Restaurant at Sawgrass Marriott will not disappoint. Reserve a table on Opentable.com to get a seat with views you won’t believe.
Up the beach a bit, you’ve got a lot of options for no-frills drinking. Lynch’s Irish Pub has live music, Monkey’s Uncle Tavern’s got karaoke and Lemon Bar has oceanfront outdoor seating, though the latter closes at 11 p.m. so get there early.
Saturday isn’t going to be much cooler, keep this in mind during the packing process. Fill your suitcase with light-weight, moisture-wicking clothes to regulate your temperature. Opt for a lighter shoe so you don’t feel weighed down following your favorite groups around the course. And of course, don’t forget to pack sunglasses.
Dressed and ready to go, play a quick 18 before battling the crowds at TPC Sawgrass. There is certainly no shortage of golf courses in Northeast Florida, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a tee time. But, if you want to play one of the collab courses at the World Golf Village (King & Bear, co-designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus or Slammer & Squire, co-designed by Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen), you’ll have to book early.
In an hour’s drive, you can head up to Amelia Island Plantation Resort for the choice of three hazard-ridden but gorgeous courses—the Ocean Links Course, Oaks Marsh Course and Long Point. Try to focus on the oceanfront views and not the marshes your ball keeps getting lost in.
When you first get to the course, you’ll be drawn to the famed 17th island hole green. Yes, it’s a pretty cool site, but be sure to check out the revamped 6th, 7th and 12th holes. Pay mind to the greens and bunkers across the course, as they got a refresh as well. If you want to sound smart, compliment the TifEagle Bermudagrass that the greens were resurfaced with.
Find a shady spot—there is no absence of trees on this course—or try the new fan bleachers out for size. From here you’ll have excellent views of No. 12 and No. 13. Another great thing about TPC Sawgrass is the variation of holes. No two holes go in the same direction or offer the same challenges. No. 12 was redesigned as a drivable par-4 that will punish less-than-perfect accuracy, enjoy the view.
Don’t expect to find a seat on that old spectator mound between the sixth and the seventh, because after the redesign that mound is now a lake.
As always, the field is stacked at this tournament and challenging Pete Dye architecture puts them to the test. No matter where you park yourself to watch the tournament you’re sure to witness great players face even greater challenges.
For lunch, the food court’s M Shack is a local favorite for all-natural and all-satisfying burgers. Add on the hand-cut fries and a shake, obviously.
One of the most interesting players to watch this week will be Rory McIlroy after his equipment change announcement just before the tournament. See how he fares putting TaylorMade in play on one of the toughest tests on the tour. Check his new driver on the long par-5 ninth or see how his short game fares on the medium-length par-3 No. 3.
Afterwards, head down to St. Augustine’s for dinner at O’Steens for some impressive seafood. They claim they have the best shrimp on the East Coast, so why not put that statement to the test? This low-key joint closes at 8:30, so if you’re looking for a later night try out Gas Full Service around the corner. It’s got a cool retro gas station theme and some seriously good eats.
On Sunday, first and foremost: call your mom. It’s Mother’s Day. Don’t let the excitement of Sunday golf get you in the dog house with mom. And no, a text doesn’t cut it.
You’d better get to the course early if you want a spot on the infamous 18th. With the unpredictable nature of this tournament, Sunday is sure to be an exciting one.
Celebrate the weekend with a quick 25-minute trip to Jacksonville. For an upscale, Zagat-style meal Orsay is your place. The French bistro mixes in southern staples and a raw bar, so come with an appetite.
If your group is more the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives type of crowd, Metro Diner is the stop. When Guy Fieri visited, he demolished the meatloaf plate, Pittsburgh steak salad and the Yo Hala on the Square breakfast dish. Cue mouthwatering.
After dinner, head to the trendy Dos Gatos for cocktails. Try the Fresh Air, which features the joint’s own private barrel Maestro Dobel tequila. Not meant for the weakhearted.
Thirst-quenched and stomach-full you’ll know you experienced the Players Championship and everything the surrounding areas have to offer. You’ll no doubt be planning your next trip to Ponte Verda Beach before you leave. Next time, you’ll be the one hacking away on the Stadium Course.