Improve your golf game at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach, Florida.
By Mike Dojc
Looking for a Florida golf resort that can match Tom Watson’s claret jug count? Consider the PGA National Resort and Spa, a mere 20-minute drive from Palm Beach International Airport. It’s home to a fivesome of impeccably groomed championship golf courses that have witnessed decades of tour drama.
The Fazio, The Palmer, The Squire and The Estates are all gems in their own right. However, the crown jewel at PGA National is The Champion. The Jack Nicklaus marvel is the home of “The Bear Trap.” It’s a treacherous trio of holes (Nos. 15-17) notorious for snaring even the most seasoned players’ dreams of golf glory.
A pair of par threes that measure under 180 yards from the tips and a 434 yard par 4 may not sound grizzly at first blush. However, that would be ignoring the diabolically sloped greens and the everchanging winds that tend to play havoc with ball flight. Not to mention, a watery grave awaits so many wayward approach shots.
“It should be won or lost right here,” reads the plaque on the trailhead of the Bear Trap, adjacent to the tee box on No. 15. The quote is courtesy of the Golden Bear himself.
The mettle tester has a very illustrious history. The course hosted the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship and the Senior PGA Championship from 1982 to 2000. Currently, The Champion hosts the Honda Classic, the tournament that kicks off the PGA Tour’s Florida swing. Since 2007, when the Honda first parked their event here, over 2000 balls have disappeared into the water on the Bear Trap. Over 75 percent of the field that has braved the three-hole passage during the Honda Classic have deep sixed at least one ball.
If your hackle-raising journey through the bear trap makes you growl at the sight of your scorecard, don’t fret. It’s nothing a treatment at the resort’s 40,000-square-foot spa can’t fix. Purge memories of missed putts and approaches that splashed into the drink with an invigorating massage. In addition, enjoy the spa’s mineral pools to prolong your pampering high. The circuit includes a pool that mimics the dense salinity of the Dead Sea. Another pool is patterned after the therapeutic thermal waters of Salies de Bearn in southwest France.
Time to Refuel
There are eight onsite restaurants and lounges. They include the poolside Wave Bar and Grill, as well as the Palm Terrace breakfast buffet. You never even have to leave the resort come chow time. It’s a great convenience for guests looking to fit in as much golf as possible. You’ll eat like a tour champion at Ironwood Steak & Seafood. Here, you can sip on 36 different wines available by the glass and graze on beef dry-aged for weeks and then cooked to perfection. Other menu options include locally caught snapper or mahi mahi.
Destination Caliber Instruction
Golf’s always a lot more fun when you’re shooting low. Arrange to have your game fine-tuned before getting your fill of their 90 holes of championship golf. The high-quality instruction on tap at PGA National is worth the trip alone.
Over 60 percent of golf shots made per round come inside 100 yards from the pin. Often, recreational golfers’ kryptonite is their short game: pitching, chipping, green reading and sand play. The curriculum at the David Pelz Scoring Game Golf School can improve everything from the percentage you pour in six-footers to your bunker game confidence.
If it’s the full swing that needs some TLC, there’s an onsite David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Whether you’re a complete novice looking to build your game from the ground up or a scratch golfer in a need a tweak ahead of a tourney, the Leadbetter Golf Academy customizes golf lessons to match your skill level. The academy is outfitted with the latest swing analysis technology to diagnose your foibles, fix up your biomechanics and get your game on track.
Interested in golf analytics? Get assessed at the Every Ball Counts Elite Training facility based at The Estates course. EBC runs a data and statistics driven training system. Golfers are put under the microscope in the service of identifying deficiencies to focus on, in order to see the greatest return on their scorecard.
For more golf destination inspiration, read on!