Griffin: Use Yardage to Play “Island Green” 17th

Island Green 17th at TPC Sawgrass

Since the 2003 Players Championship, 766 balls have found their way into the water surrounding the famed “island green” 17thhole at TPC Sawgrass. That’s an average of 48 balls per year, or more than 10 percent of all the tee shots taken in each tournament on No. 17. And that’s the best players in the world! For the average recreational golfer, the percentage of tee shots in the water on No. 17 is significantly higher. It’s estimated that each year more than 100,000 balls find a watery grave around No. 17.

We don’t want you adding to that number, so we had Golf Channel Academy lead coach Fred Griffin provide several helpful tips to prevent you from getting your tee shot wet, should you ever happen to play TPC Sawgrass or any “island green” par-3. In the first of these four tips (see below), Griffin explains how the fattest part of the green determines the yardage you play to, and not the pin’s location.


The number five green at Grand Cypress’ East course in Orlando is it’s signature hole. Just like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, it’s an island green that can strike fear into all golfers. The fifth green at Grand Cypress’ East course is narrow and small on the front, while the back of the green is larger and more forgiving.

Fred Griffin compares the difference in club selection to the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. In terms of hitting greens like the fifth at Grand Cypress’ East Course, he believes you want to take the shotgun approach with a larger club towards the back portion of the green.

If you go towards the biggest area of the green, regardless of where the flag is, you’ll set yourself up for a more forgiveness and allow for a bigger miss. You don’t have to hit your club extra hard and can take a nice, smooth swing towards the largest part of the green. On island greens like this one and the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, you’ll be set up for success.