One of the more difficult tee shots at THE PLAYERS Championship every year came on the sixth hole at the famed TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. That’s because there was always a large oak tree to the right of the tee box that hung over part of the fairway. As a result, players would have to hit a low draw off the tee to avoid coming in contact with the tree, especially when the tee box was pushed all the way back.
Well, that will tree will no longer factor in when the Tour returns to its flagship course in 2015 as the large oak was removed yesterday. It recently developed a large crack in its trunk due to old age and disease and became a safety concern and as a result had to be uprooted.
“The Live Oak on the sixth hole was one of the more recognizable trees on the golf course and influenced the tee shots of amateurs and professionals alike from the time the golf course opened in October of 1980,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Unfortunately, over time it became more fragile and susceptible to disease. Just recently, a significant fissure developed in its trunk, making it a safety concern. There simply was no way to save it, as much as we would have liked to.”
As you can imagine, the tree was not exactly a favorite with Tour pros. In the opening round of the 2010 PLAYERS, Jupiter resident Ernie Else hit the tree off the tee leading to a double bogey. While that is the only documented time the tree came directly into play in a round, many golfers hit the tree in practice rounds and it changed the trajectory of the tee shot in competitive rounds.
In fact, over the past two decades, two-time champion Davis Love III’s standing question to Finchem upon his arrival for THE PLAYERS has been: “Has the tree on No. 6 been removed yet?”
“It’s been one of the major topics of discussion during practice rounds,” Love explained. “I’ve always said something to Tim about it: ‘You know you moved the tee back so it [the tree] actually plays lower than before.’ It’s a scary shot. You play with a high ball hitter and wonder how he’s going to get under it. It was border line whether it was fair for guys who launch it high. You don’t want someone hitting a trick shot off the tee.”
All that will remain of the large oak will be commemorative pieces that will be crafted from the trunk of the tree and displayed at the course as a reminder of what once awaited golfers as they stepped onto the tee box on the sixth hole.
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