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Players Championship 50th Anniversary: Why It's One of the Most Important Golf Tournaments of the Year

If you put up $25,000,000 for the total purse, you can expect the competition to be stiff.

By Adam Pockross

Golf season is starting to get into full swing (fore!), with some of the smaller 2024 tournaments already in the books. But honestly, the real action doesn’t go down until the Players Championship tees off March 14-17, and this year’s tourney will be especially significant, seeing as it’s the 50th Anniversary of the prestigious event.

So why is the Players Championship so important? Let’s get into it.

Why Is the Players Championship Such an Important Golf Tournament?

Right up there with the British Open, the U.S. Open, the Masters, and the PGA Championship, the Players Championship is one of the most important tournaments of the year due to the annual strength of the field, the purse money involved, and the prestigious and challenging golf course where it takes place: the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course at Tournament Players Club Sawgrass (TPC Sawgrass for short) in the Jacksonville, Florida area of Ponte Vedra Beach.

RELATED: Everything Golf Fans Need to Know to Watch the 2024 Players Championship

What to Know About Tournament Players Club Sawgrass (TPC Sawgrass)

At 7,245 yards long, TPC Sawgrass is a beast, but its signature hole is the notoriously short 137-yard 17th, with its infamously entertaining “Island Green.” Although it might seem like just an easy pitching wedge away, the hole has stymied pros since the early ‘80s. Surrounded by a dynamic par-five 16th and one of the most challenging finishing holes on the tour in the waterlogged 18th, the final three holes can contend with the best of the best as far as trouble spots, including Amen Corner at Augusta (home of The Masters). 

Who Won the First Players Championship?

Scottie Scheffler plays his shot at the 18th tee during the final round of the players championship

Every year, since the great Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural tourney in 1974, the Players Championship has attracted the best field in golf, and the 2024 Players Championship, the tour's flagship event, will be no exception.

“It’s built into a significant tournament. All the players enjoy playing it, and are proud to win it, as I was proud to win the first,” Nicklaus said in a video produced by the tournament commemorating its 50th Anniversary. It was significant that Nicklaus was the winner of the very first Players Championship, as he was widely regarded as the best player in golf at the time, and is still considered one of the all-time greats.

RELATED: PGA Tour Golf: News, Schedule, Highlights & More

“Obviously I’m delighted, and of course, we play in a lot of other major championships that are not our own tournament, and this is our own tournament, the players tournament,” said Nicklaus after winning the inaugural Players Championship at the  Atlanta Country Club (the tourney was permanently moved to the TPC at Sawgrass in 1982). “And of course we want to build it to be as big as we possibly can. Of course, winning it for the first time makes me obviously feel very proud.”

Who Are the Players to Watch in the 2024 Player's Championship?

Scottie Scheffler pumps his fist in the air on the 18th green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship

It’s safe to say that the players did indeed build the Players Championship into something very big. Of course, if you put up $25,000,000 for the total purse, you can expect the competition to be stiff. The Players Championship also has the added allure of being only for the top players on the PGA Tour, so no amateurs, and no club pros (as the Major Opens allow for). 

Last year’s winner, Scottie Scheffler, took home a major-sized check worth $4,500,000, so expect him to be back in contention this year; he is the world’s number one ranked golfer at the moment, after all. 

You can also expect to see many of the other top-ranked PGA Tour players in action, including Jordan Spieth, John Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, 2022 champion Cameron Smith, 2021 champ Justin Thomas, 2019 champ Rory McIlroy, and many others looking to knock Scheffler off his championship pedestal. 

“As time has gone on, you realize what a major championship this is, and the influential great players, like a Nicklaus, like Rory [Mcllroy] now, or like Scheffler, they’re career just won’t be finished until they win a Players Championship,” former PGA Tour winner Joe Inman said in the same video.

How to Watch the Players Championship

From March 14 through 17, the Players Championship can be caught live on The Golf Channel, NBC, and streaming on Peacock





Comcast Business is a Proud Partner of the Players Championship, in addition to Optum and Morgan Stanley.

Originally published Feb 29, 2024.

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