What Is a TPC Golf Course? (And What Does 'TPC' Stand For?)

Panorama showing the 17th and 16th holes at TPC Sawgrass golf course.
TPC Sawgrass was the first TPC, or Tournament Players Club, golf course. Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The acronym "TPC" is heard fairly commonly in the golf world, and it applies to golf courses. It's heard often because many professional golf tournaments, including some of the biggest, are played at TPC golf courses.

But what does "TPC" stand for? This: "Tournament Players Club." And golf courses that carry the "TPC" designation are owned by the PGA Tour.

Many people believe TPC stands for "Tournament Players Course." And while that is not correct, it's OK to refer to a TPC course that way.

Just remember that if you want to be factually correct, say Tournament Players Club.

We've listed below all the TPC golf courses that are open to the public. But before we get to that, let's go over some history.

The First TPC Golf Course

The first golf course to carry the "TPC" designation was TPC Sawgrass — specifically, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. That's the golf course with the famous island green, the one where the PGA Tour stages its flagship event every year, The Players Championship.

The PGA Tour got into the business of building and owning golf courses when TPC Sawgrass opened in 1980. The idea (which originated with then-Tour commissioner, and former tour pro, Deane Beman) was to build a course capable of serving as the venue for a big-time tournament, built with spectators in mind, and built to the standards expected by the world's best golfers (the PGA Tour players).

One of the innovations in the TPC Sawgrass design was the idea of "stadium seating" around greens — slopes, berms, hills on which fans could easily sit and get great views of the action below.

The PGA Tour Owns Today's TPC Network

Today, there are dozens of "Tournament Players Clubs," and the TPC Network that operates them is a subsidiary of the PGA Tour. In the words of the tour:

"(T)he TPC Network was founded in order to create and maintain facilities that matched the Tour’s highest level of quality for tournaments and events."

The Tour explains the mission of the TPC Network as creating the "ultimate host venues" for PGA Tour events, with services and amenities for visitors that match what Tour pros expect. "Across the country, TPC courses let golfers truly live the PGA Tour life," the TPC Network states. "Walking the same fairways as their heroes have done. Teeing off from the very spots where history has been made. And enjoying every club detail exactly as the pros do."

Can You Play a TPC Golf Course?

Some golf courses with the TPC designation are open to the public; others are private, members-only facilities. So, yes, some of the TPC courses you can play the same way you play any other course: by making a tee time. Others you can play through stay-and-play packages; others are closed to the general public unless a non-member is the guest of a member.

The private clubs in the TPC Network sell memberships, and the TPC Network itself sells various packages and memberships. You can delve into the particulars by visiting the TPC website at www.tpc.com.

There are more than 30 golf courses in the TPC Network, most of them in the United States but with a few now at international locations.

The TPC courses that members of the public can play — these are either resort courses or daily fee courses — are:

  • TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, Calif.
  • TPC Las Vegas, Nevada
  • TPC Scottsdale, Arizona
  • TPC Four Seasons, Dallas, Texas
  • TPC San Antonio, Texas
  • TPC Louisiana, New Orleans, La.
  • TPC Tampa Bay, Fla.
  • TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
  • TPC Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • The Old White TPC, White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
  • TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill.
  • TPC Colorado, Berthoud, Colorado
  • TPC Dorado Beach, Dorado Puerto Rico
  • TPC Cartagena at Karibana, Cartagena, Colombia

Among the better-known of the private TPC courses are TPC Boston and TPC Sugarloaf.

Occasionally a golf course loses the TPC designation. And the network expands from time to time with the creation (or purchase) of new golf courses. So to view any recent additions to this list — plus the list of private TPC clubs — visit the TPC.com website linked above. You can also investigate and book tee times through the TPC's site.