Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JAN-FEB 2018

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Page 39 of 139

On May 9, 2017, more than 30,000 golf fans and their families gathered excitedly on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for THE PLAYERS Championship's Military Appreciation Ceremony. After standing for the National Anthem and a flyover by the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard, a kickoff concert by Grammy Award-nominated and American Music Award-winning country crooner Sam Hunt set the tone for golf 's unofficial fifth major that's earned a reputation for being a cool experiential party—less golf clap and more thunderous applause. ere literally isn't a bad seat (or standing space) anywhere at TPC Sawgrass, and that's the sheer genius of THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. When the course debuted in 1982, it was unique in the world of golf, having been exquisitely built by Pete and Alice Dye with the spectator in mind. In many ways, it was way ahead of its time, and improvements since have raised the bar on the PGA TOUR's fan experience. In fact, consistent mounding renovations have been ongoing since 2006 and, in 2016, THE PLAYERS enhanced viewing with new mounds on 11 green, 12 tee, 15 green and a lowered mound on 4 tee. Better still, the hospitality venues on the infamously challenging 17th hole became two-storied, creating yet another level of ticketed hospitality spaces for prime player viewing. As for the party scene, well, that's evolved, too. In 2017, trend-forward food and beverage options abounded, and all with distinctive vibes. The Wine Lounge presented by William Hill Estate on 8 green had a Napa Valley-tasting-room feel for sophisticated palates, whereas the Blue Room VIP Lounge presented by Michelob ULTRA brought more of a nightclub energy with live DJ sets. A similar spectrum existed for dining: Located behind 11 green and 12 tee, Taste of JAX offered family-friendly flavors from four local Floridian restaurants (think Southern fusion and street fare), while Wine & Dine on 9 featured gourmet small plates prepared by Matthew Medure, one of Northeast Florida's most renowned chefs. And then there was Trucks on 10, where five different food trucks convened for samplings of everything from brick-oven pizza to smokehouse-style ribs; Tacos on 12, for local restaurant Taco Lu's tasty tacos; and even a smoothies station behind 17 green. But for a truly first-class experience all the way, THE PLAYERS Club access was the hot ticket. 38 IT'S GOOD TO BE THE FAN From food trucks to luxe wine lounges, THE PLAYERS Championship is golf 's coolest party. Written by Elise Hofer Shaw Dustin Johnson teeing off on the 17th hole during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at Sawgrass (May 13, 2017).

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