How Many Balls Go Into The Water At The 17th At TPC Sawgrass?

The island green at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic - and feared - in the game, but how many balls end up in the water?

The 17th green at TPC Sawgrass
The 17th at TPC Sawgrass regularly sees players find the water
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most feared in the game but, at just 137 yards, it’s not the distance that brings players out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of it – it’s the water surrounding its green.

The most famous island green in golf has caused more than its fair share of chaos over the years, and not just among recreational golfers teeing it up at the public venue, the Stadium Course, that hosts The Players Championship

It’s said that over a million balls have been lost to the water at the hole since it opened in 1980, and to highlight just how daunting a challenge it presents to the average golfer, the PGA Tour even released a video showing that, in a single day, 102 balls were lost from the efforts of 95 amateurs – but how do the professionals fare during The Players Championship?

Thankfully, that can be answered accurately, at least since 2003, when records began being kept of just how many balls meet their watery fate at the hole. The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19, but, including the 2023 event, that still left data from 20 editions, and the results are sobering.

A total of 983 balls came a cropper at the 17th over those two decades of tournaments, averaging 49.15 a year.

Dispiritingly for the 144 players competing at the 2024 tournament, the three editions since the pandemic have all recorded above average figures, with 58 balls finding the water in 2023 alone.

On the plus side, that was still far fewer than the 2007 event, which accounted for 93 balls at the hole, while the 2014 tournament was a roaring success by comparison, with only 28 balls finding a new home at the bottom of the lake.

Will Zalatoris takes a shot at the 17th at TPC Sawgrass

Many pros lose their balls in the water at the 17th at TPC Sawgrass

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not surprisingly, over the years, many professionals have had their say on the hole. Among them is 18-time Major winner Jack Nicklaus, who said in 2007: “You knew you were in trouble when you got on the tee. No matter what - you knew sooner or later it was going to get you.”

Marc Calcavecchia went even further two years later, saying: "It is like having a 3 o'clock appointment for a root canal. You're thinking about it all morning and you feel bad all day. You kind of know sooner or later you've got to get to it."

Considering the number of times even the world’s best players lose their balls at the hole, it’s understandable that it induces a feeling of dread, particularly for those in contention with just two holes to play.

Some players have criticized the 17th, including 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods, who declared it “too gimmicky.” Regardless, it remains one of the most iconic in the game, and not just because it's instantly recognizable to golf fans the world over, but also because of the frightening stats that show that, even for the very best around, it can ruin a round in next to no time.

The Players Championship 2003 To 2023 - Balls That Landed In The Water At The 17th

  • 2023 – 58
  • 2022 – 64
  • 2021 – 50
  • 2020 – (no tournament)
  • 2019 – 45
  • 2018 – 53
  • 2017 – 69
  • 2016 – 36
  • 2015 – 45
  • 2014 – 28
  • 2013 – 44
  • 2012 – 39
  • 2011 – 40
  • 2010 – 29
  • 2009 – 32
  • 2008 – 64
  • 2007 – 93
  • 2006 – 67
  • 2005 – 68
  • 2004 – 30
  • 2003 – 29
Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.