Two benches, clubhouse “artifact,” commemorative pieces give tree a second life
As the world’s best players descend upon Ponte Vedra Beach this week in a quest for the coveted PLAYERS Championship title, they’ll have one less obstacle to navigate on the Stadium Course. In the fall, the overhanging Live Oak to the right of the No. 6 tee box, which impacted tee shots over the years, was removed due to decay and safety concerns. Instead of avoiding the tree, players and TPC Sawgrass visitors can now enjoy it, as the oak was handcrafted into two benches, an “artifact” display and 180 commemorative pieces.
One of the benches made from the oak’s trunk was installed just outside the Players’ Locker Room entry, where it will be accessible to guests during non-tournament weeks, and a framed piece of the tree hangs above it as a reminder of the bench’s origin. The second bench was placed yesterday at the No. 6 tee, giving golfers a place to rest and perhaps contemplate the tree’s longstanding reputation among golfers.
The benches are inscribed with the following: “Growing imperceptibly for decades in this densely wooded area along the coast, a nondescript live oak found notoriety when THE PLAYERS Stadium Course grew around it. For years thereafter, it unwittingly influenced, frustrated and even angered the world’s greatest golfers as they tried to negotiate its overhanging limbs during THE PLAYERS Championship. Sadly, it succumbed to disease and finally had to be taken out of play in November 2014. This bench, made from its trunk, remains in its honor.”
And finally, the oak tree was used to make 180 commemorative pieces, emblazoned with “No. 6.” These items will be distributed to select players and VIPs in the years to come.
When golf course architect Pete Dye originally designed the Stadium Course, he used the Live Oak as a focal point of playing the tee shot on No. 6. Due to the severity of its overhang, the tree wasn’t exactly beloved by PGA TOUR players who participated in THE PLAYERS. In fact, over the past two decades, two-time champion Davis Love III’s standing question to PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem upon his arrival for THE PLAYERS has been, “Has the tree on No. 6 been removed yet?”