A Trailblazer in Florida
“New” is not a term that one might apply to a resort with more than 40 years of storied history that includes hosting the 1983 Ryder Cup, staging a PGA Tour event since 2007, and can boast many legends of golf having graced its fairways over the decades. Images of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in their primes come to mind.
But new is exactly what PGA National Resort is these days.
Located in the heart of golf-rich Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a recent $100 million investment reinvigorated the iconic resort with new amenities, enhanced golf options, and sleek, modern touches throughout. Guests enjoy access to 99 holes of exceptional Troon-managed golf, including the mighty Jack Nicklaus-designed Champion Course — host venue of the PGA Tour event now called The Classic in the Palm Beaches (Feb. 29-Mar. 3, 2024) — with its famed Bear Trap sequence of holes.
In 2021, a duo of innovative new Andy Staples-designed layouts opened, The Match and The Staple courses, which are designed to maximize the fun in a game of golf. The Match Course, with its goal of encouraging “match” versus “stroke” play, is built on the land of the resort’s former Squire Course and is inspired by classic golf course design principles from the “Golden Era” of course architecture.
The 18-hole Match Course joined PGA National Resort’s new nine-hole Staple Course that features holes ranging from 60 to 130 yards. Requiring just a few clubs, the Staple Course places an emphasis on fast and fun rounds with only par 3s, numerous “hole-in-one” pin locations, and a figure-eight configuration complete with Adirondack chairs for after-hours socializing.
“Golf has to get younger,” said PGA Club Manager Jane Broderick, who has been working at the property for 37 years. “With these two courses we’ve ‘unbuttoned the top button of our golf shirts.’ Younger golfers prioritize having fun and that’s what these two courses offer.”
Broderick estimates that 50 percent of golf buddy groups visiting the resort play both a traditional 18-hole round and also one of the Match or Staple courses.
Topnotch instruction is available at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, Dave Pelz Scoring Game School, and the world’s first science-based and statistical data-driven golf training center, Full Process Golf. PGA National Resort also offers state-of-the-art club fitting.
While golf constitutes the biggest footprint at the 2,800-acre resort — with packages for families, golf groups, and meetings large and small — there’s also plenty to do off the course. Tropical comfort is the new design theme found in the 339 resort guest rooms and suites, as well as in the main lobby, which sports a large lounge area perfect for a cocktail or working on your laptop. A separate lobby coffee shop opens at 6 a.m. in case you have an early tee time or workout planned.
For an accommodations treat, consider an upgrade to one of 21 light and airy two-bedroom, two-bath private Serena & Lily-designed luxury cottages.
The recent renovations also included an emphasis on upping the resort’s culinary game, with two signature restaurants spearheaded by “Top Chef” winner Jeremy Ford and multiple James Beard Award nominee Lindsay Autry, The Butcher’s Club for splurge night and Honeybelle for all-day dining.
The Butcher’s Club emits a 1950s swanky sophistication along with prime cuts of meat (including a $375 Wagyu Tomahawk steak), while Honeybelle combines classic Florida style and Southern charm with seasonal American cuisine. A new sushi outlet is also now open, and for sweet treats any time of day, a high-end chocolate shop aims to satisfy.
Perhaps most fun of all is Birdie’s Diner, a throwback restaurant adjacent to the golf clubhouse, where a “Happy Days” decor harkens to simpler times, and the menu pleases across many levels. Classic eggs and bacon breakfast? No problem. Street tacos or bbq pulled chicken sandwich for lunch? You bet. But wait … a “signature milkshake made of Jameson Whiskey, Vanilla Ice Cream, Baileys, and Oreos? Yes please!
Dining isn’t the only aspect of the resort that’s been reimagined. The newly renovated Spa at PGA National Resort offers guests 40,000 square feet of tranquility and wellness. This serene oasis provides the perfect escape to breathe, heal, and rejuvenate with individualized holistic care. The Spa’s comprehensive menu of restorative treatments is designed to evoke lightness, openness, and a deep sense of well-being. For gentlemen, the Spa’s cool new Groom Guy offers fresh haircuts, clean shaves, beard trimming, and personalized styling from classically trained barbers.
Additional amenities include a 33,000-square-foot health and racquet club with 19 Har Tru tennis courts (12 lit for night play); 12 new pickleball courts for members and guests to enjoy the game’s burgeoning popularity in South Florida (ask about golf & pickleball packages!); a completely renovated Members Club (PGA National boasts a robust membership); and 60,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space, making the resort an ideal location for business meetings of any size.
Kid- and family-friendly activities are aplenty, with the Banyan Buddies club dishing up exciting games and creative crafts, pools and water activities in abundance, and even golf and tennis clinics geared to juniors on a seasonal basis.
So yes, even with its unparalleled history of pedigreed golf events and players over the past 40-plus years, PGA National Resort is nowadays a new and exciting must-visit destination in South Florida.
PGA National Resort
Palm Beach Gardens, FL