TPC’s strong network connection

The concept of the Tournament Players Club had a meager launch in 1980.  

How small? How about $1? 

That’s correct, a buck. 

At the time, PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman wanted a home for the pros and loved the northeast Florida area, and when a club refused to sell to him he purchased what is now TPC Sawgrass across the street for $1. 

The swamp land was miraculously turned into a pair of remarkable Pete Dye golf courses — which includes the iconic 17th hole island green at the Players Championship layout — arguably one of the most famous holes in golf. 

That $1 bill is framed and hanging in the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse as a reminder of Beman’s vision as TPC Sawgrass has since turned into a bucket list golf vacation destination and helped fuel an entire TPC Network of golf membership and vacation opportunities. 

TPC San Antonio, Oaks Course, San Antonio, Texas. :: Photo: PGA Tour

“It’s a pretty cool story and we like to have a lot of fun with it,” says Vic Aliprando, senior vice president of TPC Operations. 

The TPC Network now includes 11 of 29 total properties owned and operated by TPC. Five are managed by the TPC Network for other owners, and the remaining are operating under licensing agreements.

Of the 11 courses under TPC’s oversight, six are considered resort or public access and available for golfers to book vacations. The remaining are private. In total, all those 11 clubs log an estimated 500,000 rounds annually, according to Aliprando. 

The TPC membership now includes more than 6,000, of which golfers have limited reciprocal play at all of the 29 locations. Based on the club’s geographic location, membership initiation fees range from $15,000 to $120,000. 

“Just depends on the market,” Aliprando says. “We would love to have one price and lean on our brand and our quality, but unfortunately you have to compete locally and some markets are just not as good as others.”     

In 2018, TPC launched a call center based in Florida to help facilitate golf vacation bookings that were previously handled by a third party. Unlike some other golf vacation memberships, the TPC network has no specific demographics it concentrates on. 

“There isn’t one particular type of group that we try to go after, whether it’s guys who travel and play a lot together and like to have a good time and move around the country or couples or families,” Aliprando says. “We welcome everybody. And it really is based on the destination you might be going to because one may be a good fit for families and another location a good fit for buddy groups. That’s where our experts at the call center who have been doing this for a long time for us can guide somebody.” 

The resort vacation opportunities that exist among the available 11 destinations in the TPC network include Sawgrass, just outside of Jacksonville, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Scottsdale, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; Deere Run in the Quad Cities area of Illinois, and TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana.

One of the most popular destinations recently has been TPC San Antonio in Texas. 

“That resort has a 1,100-room JW Marriott Hotel with a huge waterpark and a lot of amenities,” Aliprando says. “Whether the whole family plays golf or if it’s just mom or dad playing the other spouse can take the kids to the waterpark — it’s a beautiful setting with lots of restaurants right on site, good fitness centers and spas.”

As far as golf play, TPC Scottsdale tops the destination list with 90,000 rounds logged on its two layouts annually.  

Over the last 40-plus years the TPC Network has hovered around 30 courses, but Aliprando says a search for additional properties that fit certain criteria are ongoing. 

“We see some growth potential,” Aliprando says. “We definitely have holes in the map that we would like to fill in. We don’t have any place in Chicago or Southern California or parts of Texas or certain parts of Florida. We would love to be able to start looking for properties in those areas once we get our growth plan straight. And we’re not opposed to owning some more golf, too. The recent investment made into the Tour is meant to grow the Tour, so if we can make the right investment in a golf property and grow that asset then that benefits what the Tour’s trying to accomplish overall.”

TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. :: Photo: Ben Jared / PGA Tour

And while the TPC Network has courses in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, the proposed growth will likely be in the United States. 

“Owning a course internationally definitely has its challenges, but golf is global and it’s growing all over the place, so it’s not out of the question but I would say our focus is a lot more heavily on the domestic side,” Aliprando says. 

With competition for the vacation dollar higher than it has ever been after the COVID-19 lockdowns, the TPC vacation network remains focused on offering an experience that is hard to duplicate for golfers. 

“A lot of people watch golf on TV and they see the pros playing the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, so that’s a unique opportunity for an amateur golfer to be able to step on the exact same tee box and hit the same shot,” Aliprando says. “I liken it a buddy of mine who was a huge Duke fan growing up and he was visiting me in Pinehurst one year, and he stopped by the Duke campus and was trying to get into Cameron Indoor Stadium. He got himself in the door and there were a couple guys in the gymnasium. He was like ‘Can I just take one shot?’ And they told him to beat it, that you’re not supposed to be here. With TPC you don’t have to sneak into a gymnasium, so to speak, which is pretty cool.

“We like to say you can play in the footsteps of Tour players. Golfers are welcomed into any of our resort clubs and it will give you some insight into how players practice, train, eat and use a club. We work hard to deliver a PGA Tour player’s lifestyle to anybody who uses one of our clubs, all the way down to the Pro-V1 practice balls and technology on the range.”