It's a TPC Sawgrass setting for the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Playing the par-3 17th on The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass under normal circumstances can be nerve-wracking, but doing it in tournament conditions is another story altogether. Just ask the best players on the world, who have made triple bogey and worse with a 9-iron in their hands.

TPC Sawgrass - Players Stadium Course - 17th green
Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships competitors will face Pete Dye's most famous creation.
TPC Sawgrass - Players Stadium Course - 17th greenSawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & SpaTPC Sawgrass - Valley Course - hole 5
If you go

Now imagine you're an amateur, teeing it up in a national championship tournament. That's exactly what hundreds of players at various skill levels from all across the country will get to experience during the 2012 Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships, which is taking place through Sept. 13.

The Players Stadium Course is one of four golf courses hosting the championship event, in which more than 1,100 players are competing. Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass and Ponte Vedra Inn and Club's Lagoon Course and Ocean Course are also hosts.

The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa is the host resort and tournament headquarters for the national championships. Participants and their families will also enjoy several activities at the resort, including welcome dinners for the senior national championships and the traditional national championships, nightly scoring functions and activities for families and spouses of the participants during tournament competition.

"With the home of the PGA Tour serving as the backdrop, we are excited to return to TPC Sawgrass and the Jacksonville area for the 2012 Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships," said Jeff Foster, senior vice president of Golf Channel New Media Ventures. "We look forward to providing a first-class experience for our Golf Channel Am Tour members and their families."

Two national championships

The 2012 Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships will be broken up into tournaments: The Senior National Championships (ages 50 and over) is through Sept. 7 and the traditional National Championships is from Sept. 10-13.

The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, of course, is one of the most recognized courses in the world, featuring its signature 17th hole, a 132-yard par 3 with water surrounding the green. As the story goes, Pete Dye's wife, Alice (who is also an architect), came up with the idea of the hole, which was excavated to provide dirt for other areas on the golf course. The rest, as they say, has been history since 1980 when the course opened.

Lesser known at TPC Sawgrass, however, is Dye's Valley Course, but competitors are unlikely to be disappointed with the experience there, either. The course, which was recently renovated, has been the host of a Tour event (formerly the Nationwide Tour). It's traditional Florida golf with plenty of Pete Dye pitfalls, but it's considerably easier than the Stadium Course.

The Ocean and Lagoon Courses at Ponte Vedra Inn are no slouches, either. New to the championship, both courses feature a distinct seaside links flavor. Meandering lagoons, undulating fairways, elevated Bermuda greens protected by steep-faced bunkers and a prevailing sea breeze will provide every kind of shot-making challenge.

Golf Channel Am Tour growing

As the largest amateur golf tour in North America with more than 6,500 members, the Golf Channel Am Tour is open to the public and provides the most professional tournament experience for players of all ages and abilities, as well as offering unparalleled access to some of the most renowned and challenging golf courses across the country.

Broke up into 60 local chapters throughout North America, the Golf Channel Am Tour conducted more than 800 local championships and 25 two-day "major" championships throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

You can sign up anytime and membership is good for a year. For more information about the Golf Channel Am Tour and the national championships, visit the Golf Channel Am Tour's Web site.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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