THE PLAYERS Championship hits 40 year milestone at TPC Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods’ iconic “better than most” putt in 2001 and Jack Nicklaus’ win at the very first Championship -- defining moments like these put THE PLAYERS Championship on the map.

“The list is tremendous. We have the best golfers,” TPC Sawgrass head golf professional Brian Riddle said.

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One thing is for sure: TPC Sawgrass is rich with history.

“It started with a dream,” Riddle said. “Deane Beman had this vision to bring the PGA tour here to Ponte Vedra Beach.”

Riddle says then-PGA commissioner Deane Beman fell in love with Ponte Vedra Beach.

“He found this property. It was 415 acres of swampland and snakes and alligators,” Riddle said. “Really just a tough plot but he had the vision that this could be one of the greatest golf courses in the world.”

Beman struck up a deal with the Fletcher family -- who owned most of Ponte Vedra Beach back then -- and got them to sell him the land for $1.

“It was totally, completely different,” 45-year volunteer Nancy Nichols said. She remembers when the event was much smaller.

“I really love it,” she said.

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Like many, when she first started, she got hooked. Nichols says volunteers are the lifeblood of THE PLAYERS Championship.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said, adding that THE PLAYERS Championship wouldn’t be what it is without its volunteers.