Dining Al Fresco at THE PLAYERS at Sawgrass

Does this lovely Spring weather awaken your desire to dine al fresco? This week, First Coast residents and visitors have the opportunity to do so in a place so exclusive, it’s only open six days a year! THE PLAYERS has returned to THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, May 6-11 in Ponte Vedra.  Here’s a quick, and by no means comprehensive look at the dining options that await golf fans this year.

Wine & Dine on 9 -  gourmet small plates prepared by Matthew Medure, one of Northeast Florida’s most renowned chefs, in a beautiful garden setting - also features BERINGER® Wine Bar.

Service with a smile at Up In Smoke BBQ Food Truck
Trucks on 10 sports some great-tasting dining options from six of your favorite local food trucks: Mama’s Food (Argentinian-style cuisine); Baby’s Badass Burgers (gourmet hamburgers); Corner Taco (semi-swanky street food); Gourmet Aviator (Latin-American and Caribbean cuisine); Up In Smoke BBQ (Southern barbecue); and Super Food (new American cuisine). 
Located between 10 fairway, 11 fairway and 15 green, this public venue also offers an open-air, centrally located Michelob ULTRA Mobile Bar, outdoor seating and an upgraded restroom. Mama’s Food’s Chicken Quesadilla wins our (in no way official) food blogger’s award for great flavor.

Say Hi to lovely Debby N at TacoLu's Tacos on 12
New this year, TacoLu, Jacksonville’s most popular go-to taco spot, will bring their own Baja style outdoors flair to The PLAYERS at Tacos on 12. Seating and shaded areas located between 12 green and 13 tee will give fans the chance to rest, relax and enjoy some of “the Lu’s” delicious menu items. There’s even a designated selfie spot for snapping photos TacoLu style.

Try the Verde, Bangin’ or Baja tacos – always made with the freshest ingredients. 

One of the most popular recent additions to THE PLAYERS food lineup, Taste of JAX has been upgraded for 2014 with an expanded patio, more seating and two new, local restaurants. New this year are 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Texas-style smokehouse); and Culhane’s Irish Pub (Irish-inspired cuisine). Returning from 2013 are Indochine (Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine); Metro Diner (classic American
Snag a slice of Pele's Wood Fire Pizza at Taste of Jax
and Pele’s Wood Fire (modern Italian-American cuisine). Located between 11 green and 12 tee, this public venue also offers a Bacardi® open-air bar, permanent restrooms and video boards to keep up with the tournament action.

Insider tip: The Reuben Egg Rolls from Culhane’s Irish Pub are tasty, and oh, so portable!

The Food Court has been relocated to behind No. 16 green – near the Couples Gate, which provides more shade. You’ll find plenty of choices to satisfy everyone in the family: Winn Dixie Fresh Café (new in 2014, featuring fresh-made sandwiches, gluten-free and healthy food options); and Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q; Brucci’s Pizza; Firehouse Subs; MShack; and Tropical Smoothie Café. Get your food, then stake out a shady spot at The Grove, an outdoor, shaded area located behind No. 17 tee. The expanded venue includes pavers, tabled seating and a large video board showcasing the Golf Channel and NBC broadcast you won’t miss any tournament action.

Best view and shrimp wraps too!  Sea Best 17 Deck
It’s hard to beat the views and atmosphere around No. 17, the most iconic hole in golf, but this year, thanks to the addition of the Sea Best 17 Deck, fans have a bird’s-eye view of the island green, No. 16 fairway and green as well as the 18th tee box.  Open to the public, The Sea Best 17 Deck is a bleacher behind No. 17 green with a covered deck, misters to help fans stay cool, and a menu featuring Sea Best seafood. Try the Sea Best Shrimp Wrap and one of this year’s signature libations featuring Grey Goose Vodka.

Hang out on the Clubhouse Lawn!
If you have an upgraded Clubhouse ticket, don’t spend all your time indoors!  Hang out on the Clubhouse Lawn and enjoy food and beverages, available for purchase from award-winning TPC Sawgrass Nineteen.  In the shadow of the beautiful 77,000 square-foot clubhouse, the lawn offers ample chairs, umbrella tables and a view of No. 18 green.

New this year, the Michelob ULTRA Blue Room VIP Lounge is an exclusive venue located adjacent to Stadium Village. Tickets to the Blue Room include access to the grounds, as well as beer, wine, soda, water and upscale cuisine from select local restaurants such as Black Sheep and Mellow Mushroom. The Blue Room features outdoor games, music and themed days for a different experience each day of the tournament. Daily tickets cost $100 for Thursday; $125 for Friday; $125 for Saturday; and $100 for Sunday and are available exclusively on www.THEPLAYERSBlueRoom.com.

Pro tip:  Drink water, lots of it. Chilled, filtered drinking water is available in the permanent restrooms near The Patio, Taste of JAX and Wine & Dine on 9; so keep that bottle and refill it as many times as you’d like as a way to stay hydrated and save money at THE PLAYERS.

Thanks to THE PLAYERS for inviting me for a complimentary Taste of THE PLAYERS event so I could sample and snap some of the best of the best to share with you!

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