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TPC at Sawgrass is 25 years old

Dean Beaman had played enough tournament golf -- and dodged enough periscopes -- to know there had to be a better way for people to watch his sport.

``People would walk 4 or 5 miles and only see four or five holes,'' said Beaman, former PGA Tour commissioner.

And so he came up with stadium golf, first showcased to so-so reviews at the inaugural Tournament Players Championship in 1980. Beaman contacted famed architect Pete Dye. The two helped create the Stadium Course at Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass.

``We really thought it would be something that would kick the game and get it going,'' said Dye, who was given the PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday.

The layout features rolling mounds where fans can watch action on several holes at once. Beaman said common areas designed to better route spectators were also part of the plan. While some golfers had problems with Dye's difficult layout -- ``They don't snarl at me as they go by anymore,'' Dye joked -- it was a hit with ticket buyers who until then trusted clunky cardboard periscopes to see their favorite stars.

Beaman said he thought of the idea in the early 1960s, but couldn't put into practice until 1979 when PGA Tour headquarters moved to Florida from Washington and construction began on the Stadium Course.

Dye and Beaman ``gave us a snapshot of what the future of golf was going to look like,'' said Steve Elkington, a two-time winner at The Players Championship.

Dye didn't think the design would have that much of an impact. ``But I'm sure (Beaman) did,'' Dye said. ``I'm sure he was thinking way beyond what I did about what would happen to the PGA Tour.''

The are 23 TPC courses across the country, 10 which hold tour events including the recently opened TPC of Louisiana that's hosting the Zurich Classic of New Orleans next month.

Beaman smiles when asked what his notion meant to the sport. ``I think stadium golf is something we're going to keep refining and growing over the years,'' Beaman said.

 

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