By Ponte Vedra Beach Resident Susan Kelly, Originally Published in Hilton Mom Voyage, a family travel blog.
THE PLAYERS Championship, or TPC, is the only golf tournament owned by the players of the PGA tour and offers the highest prize money of any golf tournament. Each year, top golfers descend on TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach in northeast Florida to play this prestigious tournament. Past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and most recently in 2016, Jason Day.
Whether you are a die-hard golf fan or more of a social spectator, this is a fun and family-friendly tournament! In 2017, the tournament is held May 9 through May 14, and here are some tips on attending TPC with kids.
The most important thing to know is that kids’ tickets are FREE! All children 18 years-old and under are welcome free of charge with an adult with a ticket. One adult can bring multiple children on any day of the tournament. Adult ticket prices start at $20.
Parking for the TPC practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday is free for everyone. For the other days, regular parking passes cost $30 to $35 per car. However, if you carpool with at least four passengers in the car, including your kids, then you can print out a coupon for free parking. You can get your free parking voucher here.
Tuesday and Wednesday of TPC week (May 9 and 10, 2017) are practice rounds and ideal days to visit with kids. The crowds are smaller, parking is free, and sometimes players will even stop to interact with the kids, which they can’t do during tournament play.
Because most kids will probably only watch golf for a short while, one of the best things to know about is the McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation Kid Zone. This is a kid’s dream come true! They have putt-putt, crafts, face painting and a shady area for parents to sit while the kids play. As a brand new element in 2017, Nickelodeon will offer activities in the Kid Zone including SpongeBob SquarePants mini-golf and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Puttskee.
There is a free family concert in honor of Military Appreciation Day, and this year it was held on Tuesday, May 9 at 6 pm. The event usually starts with a flyover by the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard, and this year, it was followed by a concert by singer Sam Hunt. You will see families sitting on blankets, older kids walking around with their friends, and younger kids singing and dancing along to the music. It is one of the best things to do at TPC with kids.
Like many venues, the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course has strict policies in place on what you are allowed to bring. In general, you may bring a small wallet or clutch that is no larger than 6 x 6 inches or a clear plastic bag no larger than 12 x 12 inches. You can even use a gallon size freezer bag for your clear plastic bag. However, if you are entering with young children, you can bring a larger diaper bag with diapers, bottles, and medical necessities. You may also bring a stroller to TPC.
If getting an autograph from a golfer is important to you or your family, then one fun thing to do is buy a souvenir flag once you enter the tournament for players to sign. There is a special Kids’ Corner in the autograph zone behind the 18th green where kids can wait and golfers will come by and sign autographs when they are done playing.
A great food option for families is the Food Court by the Nicklaus Gate. The Food Court usually includes kid-friendly food like hamburgers, BBQ, sandwiches and smoothies. Also, you are allowed to bring in packaged snack foods as long as they fit in your bag. You may not bring in beverages, but you can bring an empty water bottle and fill it up once you’re inside the tournament.
If you’d like to attend TPC, one of the closest hotels is Hilton Garden Inn Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra, which is located right at the entrance to TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. You can also get to the tournament in 45 minutes from Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront.
Famous golfers, sunny Florida weather and a family-friendly venue…if you’re in Jacksonville during THE PLAYERS Championship, be sure to check it out!