By Neville Leck Last updated: 25th February 2013
The PGA National Resort and Spa at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida is a lot more than the home of the PGA of America and this week's US PGA Tour event, the Honda Classic.
It's a golfers' paradise that boasts five championship golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, the famous Fazios and Karl Litten.
The resort comes with all the trappings that go together with great golf establishments, including an up-market pro-shop, all the practice facilties you can ask for and expert tuition at the PGA of America's golfing academy and Tour School.
Yet the golf, as good as it is, is only part of what you'll get at this world class Palm Beach vacation destination.
Apart from high quality accommodation, the resort also offers:
- A 40,000-square-foot European spa featuring a diverse menu of treatments, some heated outdoor mineral pools, a beauty salon, a relaxing café, and lounge areas
- A Health & Racquet Club, offering 19 Har-Tru tennis courts, free weight and cardiovascular exercise rooms, Pilates, aerobic and ballet studios, and personal training
- Nine sparkling pools, including a lap pool, main pool, and soothing whirlpools
- A 39,000-square-foot, self-contained conference wing, featuring 23 stylish and modern meeting rooms
- Seven onsite restaurants and lounges offering everything from the fine steaks and seafood at Ironwood Grille to the crisp fare of Wave Grill
- Wireless internet access on all properties
- Laundry, valet and valet parking services
THE CHAMPIONS COURSE:
This course, where the Honda Classic is to be played, is described by the owners on their website as "an unparalleled South Florida Golf Course" - and not without good reason.
Originally designed by Tom Fazio for major tournament play, the Champions Course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990 and although today it has generous landing areas and spacious and accepting greens, golfers, both the professionals and club golfers alike, are nevertheless presented with some tough course management challenges throughout their rounds.
This because the course has five sets of teeing areas that accommodate golfers of a wide range of playing abilities and makes the course enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels.
The first hole runs along the adjoining driving range, with a practice green located next to the first tee for that last-minute warm up.
The famous 15th, 16th and 17th holes of the Champions Course have been called 'The Bear Trap' by Nicklaus.
Statistically they have all been rated among The Top 10 Most Difficult Holes on the Senior PGA Tour and in May 2008, USA Today called 'The Bear Trap' "one of the toughest stretches in golf."
The Champion Golf Course has a distinguished place in Major Championship history. It was the site of the 1983 Ryder Cup Matches; the 1987 PGA Championship; the 1982-2000 PGA Seniors' Championships; and the 1981, 1982, and 1994-2000 PGA Junior Championships.
Curretly it is home to the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.
The Resort has dedicated the Championship Course to Jack Nicklaus, in honor, they say, "of a man whose commitment to golf has been an inspiration to the game, and personifies the high standard of excellence we associate with the "Player of the Century."
Some thumbnail facts about the course:
- Most Challenging Hole: No. 16
- Most Scenic Hole: No. 18
- Total Number of Sand Bunkers: 107
- Total number of Water Hazards: 16 out of 18 holes
- Acreage of the Course: 150
- Average Size of Greens: 6,400 square feet.
The other four championship courses at the PGA National Resort include:
- The Palmer: Named after its designer, Arnold Palmer, this course is a subtle nod to the game's Scottish roots. Enjoy a links-style routing, numerous grass bunkers, and the sharing of a common green on holes 8 and 12.
- The Estate: A short drive from the resort, it features a masterful mixture of sand and water and lush fairways and greens. It also winds through open meadows lined with Florida Pines and subtropical foliage.
- The Haig: In tribute to five-time PGA champion Walter Hagen's suggestion to "stop and smell the roses", this course sees to it that rose bushes bloom at every 150-yard marker on the course.
- The Squire: Named after the immortal Gene Sarazen, the first golfer ever to win the professional Grand Slam, this is "a thinking man's course" that is the ultimate test of accuracy and precision.
- If you would want access to all five of its championship golf courses, to its three practice ranges, to its European style spa, to its health & racquet club with 17 tennis courts and to its 8 swimming, lap, splash and imported outdoor mineral pools you can get it by joining the PGA National Members Club.
That will give you access to all the facilities of this AAA Four Diamond South Florida Golf Club - for less than half the cost of a typical gated golf community membership in Palm Beach County.
In addition you will get exclusive member benefits and a private Members Clubhouse.
Charter Membership Categories include:
- A Full Golf Charter Membership entitles you to use all of the facilities of The Club. You are entitled to a 5-day golf sign-up privilege and you pay just a cart fee.
- A Sports Charter Membership entitles you to use all of the facilities of The Club. Sports Members have a 2-day golf sign-up privilege and pay a green fee in addition to a cart fee.
- A Tennis Charter Membership entitles you to use the tennis facilities of The Club, plus use of all of the other facilities of The Club except golf.
- A Social Charter Membership entitles a member to use all the facilities of The Club, except golf and tennis.
THE HONDA CLASSIC:
As host of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic each March, PGA National Resort & Spa annually opens its legendary doors to the best and brightest in professional golf.
Established as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic in 1972, it changed its name to the Honda Classic in 1982.
The 2007 Classic at PGA National drew record-breaking crowds and offered a purse of $5.5 million and a winner's share of $990,000.
The 2008 Honda Classic drew a tougher field and provided Ernie Els with his first win in 3 years and 5 months.
The 2009 Honda Classic saw an unheralded Korean who only started playing golf at the age of 18, beat all the big guns. His name was YE Yang - and he pulled off an even bigger surprise a few months later when he won the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship.
In 2010, 2011 and 2012 it was the chance of Colombia's Camilo Villegas, South Africa's Rory Sabbatini and Northern Ireland's new World No 1 Rory McIlroy to shake up the Americans and win one of their oldest tournaments.
In past years, PGA National has played host to some of golf's biggest names ... including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Larry Nelson, Johnny Miller, Nick Price, Vijay Singh, and Fred Couples.
Played on The Champion Golf Course, the tournament's storied list of past champions reads as follows:
2012 - Rory McIlroy
2011 - Rory Sabbatini
2010 - Camilo Villegas
2009 - Y.E. Yang
2008 - Ernie Els
2007 - Mark Wilson
2006 - Luke Donald
2005 - Padraig Harrington
2004 - Todd Hamilton
2003 - Justin Leonard
2002 - Matt Kuchar
2001 - Jesper Parnevik
2000 - Dudley Hart
1999 - Vijay Singh
1998 - Mark Calcavecchia
1997 - Stuart Appleby
1996 - Tim Herron
1995 - Mark O'Meara
1994 - Nick Price
1993 - Fred Couples
1992 - Corey Pavin
1991 - Steve Pate
1990 - John Huston
1989 - Blaine McCallister
1988 - Joey Sindelar
1987 - Mark Calcavecchia
1986 - Kenny Knox
1985 - Curtis Strange
1984 - Bruce Lietzke
1983 - Johnny Miller
1982 - Hale Irwin
1981 - Tom Kite
1980 - Johnny Miller
1979 - Larry Nelson
1978 - Jack Nicklaus
1977 - Jack Nicklaus
1975 - Bob Murphy
1974 - Leonard Thompson
1973 - Lee Trevino
1972 - Tom Weiskopf.
Official website: http://www.pgaresort.com/map_and_directions/
Address:PGA Resort & Spa, 400 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
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