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Places with a name you can't forget

It's called "the scariest hole in golf." It also is our pick for the most famous hole in golf. Come to think of it, the par-3 17th hole at Sawgrass, where The Players Championship is being played this weekend, is one of the most famous places in the world of sports.

By TOM JONES
Published May 10, 2007


It's called "the scariest hole in golf." It also is our pick for the most famous hole in golf. Come to think of it, the par-3 17th hole at Sawgrass, where The Players Championship is being played this weekend, is one of the most famous places in the world of sports. A 12 1/2-meter-wide green with narrow rough sits in the middle of a lake. Miss it and kerplunk, you're in the water. According to Sawgrass officials, approximately 40, 000 people play the course each year. Approximately 120, 000 balls are hit into the water. Even the pros get the shakes staring at the little dot of green in the middle of all that water. Sports fans, even those who don't follow golf religiously, know this hole well. All you need to say is "the 17th at Sawgrass" and they know what you're talking about. Just as they do when you mention the name of our other favorite classic sports locations, including these:

The Green Monster

Really, it's nothing more than a big sheet of plywood covered in hard plastic - 37 feet, 2 inches high. But sitting in leftfield of, arguably, the world's greatest stadium (Boston's Fenway Park) it's baseball's most legendary location. A mere 310 feet from home plate (actually, some dispute that distance and claim it's closer to 300 feet) it's so close that a batter feels like he can touch it with his hand from the batter's box. Routine fly balls become homers. Screaming liners that would clear most major-league fences turn into singles. The manual scoreboard creates weird caroms that turn singles into triples. We repeat: It's baseball's most legendary location.

 

The Green Ivy

Do you know what Parthenocissus tricuspidata is? We can't pronounce it, but we can definitively say it's about the most beautiful plant we've ever seen. It's the greenest-of-green ivy that covers the redder-than-red brick that surrounds Chicago's Wrigley Field. The ivy rarely comes into play, but the sight alone gives Wrigley a charm like no other stadium.

 

The Parquet Floor

The Boston Garden is gone, but its best feature (well, aside from the rats and sight-blocking pillars) remains. The classic parquet floor screams one name: Celtics. The old parquet floor was installed in 1952 and legend has it that only the Celtics players knew where the "dead" spots were. The floor was then moved to the new Boston arena in the mid 1990s. The original floor continued to be used until 1999 when a new parquet floor was installed. But, here's a little-known fact: Some bits and pieces of the old floor have been integrated into the new floor.

 

The Bricks

The very first Indianapolis 500 in 1909 turned into disaster when cars caught fire, racers died and spectators were injured. Why? The track of crushed stone and tar caused the tires to literally burn up and the race had to be stopped after only 5 miles. That's when Carl G. Fisher, a former racer and automotive parts and highway expert, came up with the idea of using 3.2-million paving bricks, thus giving it the nickname "The Brickyard." The "yard" is nothing more than a patch these days with only 567 bricks remaining. But it gives the track the most distinctive touch in racing.

 

Touchdown Jesus

Located just next to Notre Dame Stadium, just beyond the end zone, is the Hesburgh Library. On the side is a large mural of the resurrected Jesus Christ raising his arms in glory. He is not, as some would claim, signaling another Notre Dame touchdown. (Or is he???)

 

Heartbreak Hill

Boy, Boston has a lot of famous sports places. And you have to admit, the Boston Marathon is the most famous marathon in the world. (Sorry, New York, but Boston wins this race.) Anyway, the most infamous part of the most famous course is Heartbreak Hill, a half-mile ascent between the 20th and 21st miles. Most of the race until then is on a downhill trend, so once runners get to the hill, they hit what they commonly call "the wall." This part of the race has been known to turn leaders into also-rans and the novice marathoner into a, well, quitter. Pure heartbreak.

 

The Hole

For most stadiums, a hole in the roof would be a disaster. For Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, the hole in the roof makes it unique. In fact, they are taking their signature hole with them when they move to a new stadium after the 2008 season. The difference is the new stadium will have the ability to fill in the hole. So why is there a hole in the roof of Texas Stadium? Texans will tell you, "So God can watch his team play."

 

The Monuments

Just beyond the left-centerfield wall at Yankee Stadium sits a mini-Hall of Fame honoring the greatest players from the most famous franchise in North American sports history. Monument Park contains a collection of plaques and monuments celebrating the Yankees, as well as other events at the stadium and in the city. It might have been better in the old days of the old stadium when the monuments were actually in play. But still, you can visit to celebrate legendary names such as Babe, the Mick, Gehrig, Scooter, Whitey and Yogi, as well the victims and rescue workers from Sept. 11.

 

The Catwalks

Who says the Devil Rays need a new stadium? Where else in the majors do you find catwalks that play havoc with fly balls, turning popups into triples and lazy flies into homers. Playing in the Trop is like playing wiffle ball in your backyard. Okay, if the ball goes over the telephone wire, but hits the mail box, it's a double. But if it bounces off the neighbor's porch and back into the yard on this side of the dog house, it's all you can get. You gotta love that.