A Golfer’s Guide to Navigating Palm Beach Florida

A mere two hour drive up Interstate 95 from Miami is an area of Florida where the pace of life moves a little slower, snowbirds are abound, and golf courses reign supreme. With a recent influx of PGA Touring Professionals (Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Keegan Bradley) making their home in the Palm Beaches, it is without question that the Gold Coast is quickly regaining its footing as the golf mecca in Florida. Home to a world class resort, nine in house restaurants, and five championship golf courses featuring a variety of playing conditions, there is no question that PGA National Resort & Spa is the perfect place to setup camp for your golfing weekend.

pga-national-champion-course-no-8

Photo courtesy of PGA National Resort and Spa

Thursday

After undergoing an extensive $100 million renovation, PGA National Resort and Spa has become one of the most popular stops on tour among the players. Just 20 minutes from Palm Beach International Airport and one hour from Ft. Lauderdale, this tour stop is an easy destination to get to with favorable weather during the winter months.

The Champion

Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio for major tournament play, the Champion course at PGA National Resort and Spa was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2014 and hosts The Honda Classic each spring on the PGA Tour. Although The Champion course has generous landing areas with spacious and accepting TifEagle greens, golfers are presented with course management challenges throughout the round. A must-play on any avid golfer’s list, The Champion course features the Bear Trap which spans three demanding holes.

The Palmer

Named after its designer, Arnold Palmer, this is one of the most forgiving courses at PGA National Resort and Spa from tee to fairway, known as a risk/reward game. The open fairways and larger Champion Bermuda greens can be quite accommodating and invite players to take a chance if they dare; The Palmer has a great series of finishing holes, with the 18th being one of the most scenic par-5s on the property.

The Fazio (Formerly the Haig Course)

The Fazio is a reinvention of the Haig, PGA National Resort and Spa’s original 18-hole course that opened in 1980. Formerly the Haig course, designed by George and Tom Fazio as a tribute to five-time PGA champion Walter Hagen, the Fazio is a modern reinvention of the 18-hole course opened in 1980. The renovation was led by Tom Fazio II and boasts a number of modern improvements to the classic golf architecture such as reconfigured tee boxes and bunkers. The redesigned course strikes the perfect balance in providing a challenging course for seasoned golfers and a round of enjoyable resort golf for those with higher handicaps.

The Squire

Named after the immortal Gene Sarazen, the first golfer ever to win the professional Grand Slam, “the thinking man’s course” is the ultimate test of accuracy and precision. Designed by Tom and George Fazio, the Squire is the shortest and most exacting of the courses at PGA National Resort and Spa. Tee shots demand accuracy with fairway woods and long irons, while the new smaller “Emerald Bermuda” greens demand precise approach shots. The Squire is surrounded by natural areas teaming with vegetation and wildlife. The 5th hole even runs along part of a wilderness preserve, which borders the west side of the PGA National community.

The Estates

Designed by Karl Litten, The Estates course presents an enjoyable mix of challenging and docile holes. The course sets up for any level of player as it’s one of the shorter courses at PGA National Resort & Spa. Golfers are tested with the formidable placement of fairway bunkers and water hazards. Generous fairways at this course will often make stray tee shots more manageable, and the large, inviting greens help keep the course fun for the high handicapper. Forced carries to many of the greens, hitting over hazards or bunkers, create a test that makes each round more enjoyable than the last. The Estates course is located five miles west of the main resort.

Rates: Contact the resort for all inclusive stay and play packages
Tee Time Booking Policy: Reservation policy varies depending upon course; contact the Golf Shop for tee time availability

the-breakers-rees-jones-course

Photo courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach

Friday

With two championship courses and home to Florida’s first 18-hole golf course, the Breakers is the destination of choice for avid golfers, as well as vacationers who enjoy the game. From the first tee until the final approach on the 18th hole, these meticulously designed courses entice and challenge golfers of all levels.

The Ocean Course

With fairways that weave between sandy hazards, the Ocean Course rewards wit over power, challenging golfers to play the ball low on the 140 acre complex overlooking the Atlantic. First laid out in 1896 by Alexander H. Findley, the Ocean Course was redesigned in 2000 by Brian Silva, Golf World’s 1999 Architect of the Year. Combining a love of the game with technology, Silva preserved its unique attributes, while perfecting the course for the 21st century golfer. Silva’s redesign addressed tee elevation, tee sizes, surface slopes, pin placement areas, the integration of sand and grass-faced bunkers and included a complex installation of new drainage and irrigation.

The Breakers Rees Jones Course

This course (located ten miles away) was recently reconstructed as one of the premier golf experiences in the southeast U.S., reflecting the incomparable new-classic style of eminent golf course architect Rees Jones. From its previous incarnation as Breakers West, the new course has been lengthened to more than 7,100 yards and changed into a par 72 layout. A contemporary counterpart to the historic Ocean Course, The Breakers Rees Jones Course caters to every level of golfer and provides multiple options thanks to challenging water carries, varied pin positions and large landing areas from all tees. For your convenience, complimentary shuttle service is provided from The Breakers resort to The Breakers Rees Jones Course.

Rates: $205 per player
Tee Time Booking Policy: Reservation policy varies depending upon course; contact the Golf Shop for tee time availability

polo-trace-golf-club

Photo courtesy of Polo Trace Golf Club

Saturday

Located just 30 minutes south of Palm Beach Gardens, Polo Trace Golf Club is one of South Florida’s hidden gems. Designed by Karl Litten, this links-style course plays over 7,000 yards, featuring new Champion Turf greens and lush rolling fairways providing players with the ultimate golfing experience. Located in beautiful Delray Beach, Florida, Polo Trace Golf Club is just minutes from historic downtown Delray Beach. Take a post-golf stroll down Atlantic Avenue and enjoy the many restaurants, side walk cafes and bars. Nestled among the restaurants and boutiques, are almost 30 galleries that make up Delray Beach’s bustling art scene.

Rates: $99 per player
Tee Time Booking Policy: Up to 7 days in advance

palm-beach-par-3

Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Par 3

Sunday

Designed by world renowned golf course architect, Dick Wilson and his apprentice Joe Lee, the Palm Beach Par 3 was built by Michael Phipps and opened for play in 1961. It was privately owned until 1973, when the Town of Palm Beach purchased it for five million dollars. The course was recently renovated and redesigned in 2009 by Hall of Fame golfer Raymond Floyd.  It’s been touted twice by Golf Digest as “The Best Par 3 in the U.S.”. Golf Magazine even bestowed its Number One Rating to the course, with second-place awarded to the short course at Augusta National. It’s also been listed among Golf Range Magazine’s Top 25 Short Courses in America, twice. Celebrating its 50th birthday, the beautifully restored Par 3 is well on its way to regaining its glory, when it was ranked #1 in the country.

Rates: $48 per player
Tee Time Booking Policy: 7 days in advance

Other Notable Courses

The Links at Boynton Beach
Rates: $63 per player
Tee Time Booking Policy: 8 days in advance

Deer Creek Golf Club
Rates: $110 per player
Tee Time Booking Policy: 7 days in advance

There is perhaps no other place in the country with a better concentration of private golf clubs within twenty square miles. If there were ever a time to call in any connections you have, this would be it. Among the dozens of world class clubs these three stand out above the rest:

Recommended Restaurants/Bars

Looking for more golf trips? Take a look at our ultimate golf guides to Miami, Las Vegas, and Pinehurst.

Kevin Bender, PGA

Kevin has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2009 and graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Business Administration. He has 7 years of experience at two of South Florida’s most prestigious clubs, Coral Ridge Country Club and the Broken Sound Club. Prior to Global Golf, Kevin was the Lead Professional at the Hasentree Club in Wake Forest, North Carolina for 4 seasons. Kevin has an extensive knowledge in club fitting along with a tremendous passion for golf course architecture and has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe playing many of the world’s top courses.

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