Honda Classic officials would “like nothing more" than for hole No. 17 at PGA National to approach the "energy and intensity" seen at the 16th hole of the PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open, according of Brian Biggane of the PALM BEACH POST. Attendance figures from PGA National's "The Bear Trap" -- which encompasses the 15th, 16th and 17th holes at the Champion course -- show that the grouping of holes has "lured the greatest number of fans in recent years, and inspired by the raucous success of the 16th at Phoenix, tournament officials have focused their expansion on the area from the No. 16 green through the 17th hole, a difficult par-3 over water.” Hospitality space in that area in two years “has grown from 21,000 to 33,800 square feet, featuring food and beverage stands, plasma televisions, retail outlets, a wine garden and a hospitality deck dedicated to military personnel.” The tournament also “has increased the space for fans to watch the action at No. 17.” Officials estimate that some “6,500 fans could find viewing spots somewhere around the hole.” Another “unique touch that comes straight from Phoenix: a tunnel running from the 16th green to the 17th tee.” Tournament Exec Dir Ken Kennerly said that he “hopes NBC will place a camera in the tunnel, adding to the impression players are almost coming out on stage once they emerge.” Kennerly said of the 16th hole at Phoenix, “Everybody wants that enthusiasm. And the energy around The Bear Trap has kind of created that force. They have what they call the Gauntlet over in Tampa, and (PGA Tour Commissioner) Tim Finchem is trying to find a name for the closing stretch of holes at TPC for the Players Championship” (PALM BEACH POST, 2/14).
PLAY ON, PLAYERS: In Jacksonville, Ashley Gurbal Kritzer reports additional amenities at this year’s Players Championship “represent an investment" of close to $1M from the tournament and the PGA Tour and "include new food venues, permanent on-site restrooms, repaving the walkways on the course and widening the entryway to the main parking lot.” There will be a Taste of Jax, which is a “new food venue featuring food” from four local vendors. The addition of the permanent, on-site restrooms cost $500,000, while the repaved walkways totaled $60,000 and the expansion of the entryway to the parking lot cost $80,000. The tournament will offer “free parking for vehicles with four or more people” (JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/8 issue).