Thursday, May 06, 2010

Where Can You Find 120,000 Golf Balls?

There is probably too much attention paid to the gimmicky 17th hole at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass but there's also too much attention paid to American Idol, Lindsay Lohan and who's wearing what to the Oscars. There's a side of us -- yes, all of us -- that can't resist that kind of stuff.

That's one of the reasons the 17th hole at the Stadium Course fascinates people. It's one of the rare golf holes, maybe the only one, that non-golfers know and will stop to watch someone play it in the same way casual viewers stop to watch wrecks in racing. It's short, it's different and it's potentially embarrassing. Perfect for Americans.

It's why golfers flock to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., -- to have their moment at the 17th hole. For the record, I've played it three times, drowned one Titleist and made two pars. That's not bragging. Just the facts. My record on the 18th hole looks more like the big one at Talladega.

Anyway, according to various reports, an average of 120,000 golf balls are hit into the water at the 17th hole every year. Based on an average of 44,000 rounds per year at the Stadium Course, that means most players go through close to a sleeve of balls when they're on the 17th tee. Sounds about right. Most of them still walk away smiling, having taken their swing -- or swings -- at glory.

And in case you're getting any ideas about selling recycled golf balls, divers go into the water four times a year and pull out the balls that didn't make it. Sounds like a good business to be in.