Inside the players’ locker room at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse sits a little known golf relic. Not a game-winning wedge or a revered crystal trophy, the vintage barber’s chair has been preserved as a vestige of locker-room storytelling from THE PLAYERS Championship’s yesteryear.
The legend of the chair began in the late ‘70s, when THE PLAYERS, the PGA TOUR’s highest-paying tournament, was played on the Sawgrass Country Club course. Bad weather and a score in the 80s led longtime pro Ben Crenshaw to unknowingly start a tradition of sitting in the chair and exercising the demons of a bad round on the links. After Crenshaw’s famous rant, anytime a player shot poorly, he was encouraged to “take it to the barber chair,” according to Bill Hughes, general manager of TPC Sawgrass.
To honor that tradition of post-game storytelling, Sawgrass Country Club donated its barber’s chair in 2006 as a piece of tournament memorabilia to the new Mediterranean-style TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse.
“Part of building this clubhouse was about bringing to life the history of the TPC Sawgrass, THE PLAYERS and the PGA TOUR,” Hughes says in an interview at the golf club. “You can’t tell the history of THE PLAYERS without the barber’s chair.”
The storied recliner no longer plays host to haircuts and vent-sessions. With its walnut-colored leather cushions and a star-emblazoned steel footrest, the chair occupies a quiet nook inside the players’ locker room between the champion’s dressing room and a TV lounge. Surrounded by rich wood-paneled walls with the names of past champions of THE PLAYERS painted in gold, the chair’s historical significance remains somewhat of a mystery even to some of golf’s current stars.
“Anything that was done with that chair was so far ahead of my time,” says Jim Furyk, PGA TOUR player and local Ponte Vedra resident. “It’s more of a myth. And I’d be surprised if any of the younger guys on the tour know anything at all about the chair.”
Hughes and a team of volunteer guides want to keep the chair’s history alive by highlighting it on clubhouse tours. These days, the unlikely artifact serves mainly as an ode to old-fashioned storytelling, and as the unofficial throne to the champion of
THE PLAYERS, according to Hughes.
“These guys will say they’re not superstitious, but I don’t see anybody sitting in this chair except the champions,” says Hughes.