The objective a few years ago was for players to define the golf course in one word. The choices ranged from dramatic to demanding, from thrilling to uncomfortable. Ogilvy, perhaps the most knowledgeable among players when it comes to golf course design, couldn't think of a word. Four days later, while playing the final round, he walked off the 14th tee when he saw a reporter who had asked the question and said without prompting, "Annoying."

It can be that for the best of them.

There are a few things on which players would agree. While power is always an advantage in golf, length is not a big issue here. And the key to Sawgrass starts with getting the ball in the fairway. After that, it's a guessing game. Some say a great short game is critical. Others would say the penalty of missing the greens is so severe that not even the best short game can save you.

"It's such a fine line, and such a penalty, when you do miss a shot," Bo Van Pelt said. "All those guys have great short games, but on a course where your ball is in the water or you've short-sided yourself, it doesn't matter how good your short game is. You're not going to save the shot. The penalty on a miss is so severe that if a guy is barely off, it can really cost him. You make a big number and you're out of the tournament."

Couples said he was playing a practice round recently with a young player — he didn't give his name — who asked about the secret to Sawgrass. Couples told him not to worry about distance and to get the ball in play. And then he added this twist:

"When you get an 8-iron, 9-iron, wedge, don't go at the flag," Couples said. "You don't need to be aggressive. Because for every time you hit close, you'll just miss and it will ricochet down an embankment."

It's never a bad idea to listen to Couples talk about Sawgrass. Remember, it was Couples who once was asked the best way to approach the island green at No. 17. His answer:

"Don't look."