Monday, February 24, 2014

PGA National Resort and Spa


It goes without saying, I love golf, but it's not too often that I find myself daydream about a golf course weeks in advance to playing it.  But that was exactly the scenario as my visit to PGA National approached.  There's something about the reputation of PGA National that had me feeling like a kid on the days leading up to Christmas morning.  Having watched the  Pro's play here during the Honda Classic, it seemed easy to imagine myself strutting up to the green after hitting a perfect driver/wedge combo and tapping in for birdie.

Regardless of the fact that I was leaving the cold, snowy Northern winter behind for southern hospitality and sunshine, it was more than blue skies and palm trees that had me all worked up.  I don't know if it was the 90 holes of championship golf on their five courses or the resort's history of hosting PGA Tour events, but there's something magical about PGA National Resort.  Although the entire resort was impeccable, what stood out the most from my experience, was playing The Champion course, the same course that puts the pros to the test each year during the Honda Classic.

As with many golfers, first tee jitters are fairly common for me, which were reaching their peak as I stood on the first tee box thinking of the many golf greats who've also shared this view.  "Nice and easy" I told myself, trying not to over-think the water glistening just left of the fairway.  Knees shaking, I took a 3/4 swing and punched one down the middle.  With a sigh of relief, I spun my club in my hand as if there was never a doubt in my mind.  My playing partner Gary teed off, and we set out on what would be a truly majestic round of golf.  

Although I've always been impressed watching the Pro's, after having played the Champion Course, I have to say I have a new found respect for their skill level and how they make this game look so easy.  I'm looking forward to reminiscing this week watching the action and talent on display at the Honda Classic.  Here's to a great week of golf ahead, and if you ever find yourself in Florida, make sure you visit PGA National Resort, you'll be thankful you did.


Here's a short intro to the 5 courses at PGA National Resort:

The Champion Course (Honda Classic)
Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio for major tournament play, The Champion course at PGA National Resort & Spa was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990 and now hosts the Honda Classic each spring on the PGA TOUR. Although The Champion has generous landing areas and spacious and accepting TifEagle greens, golfers are presented with course management challenges throughout the round. This South Florida golf resort course has five sets of tees to make the course more playable for golfers of all levels. A must-play on any avid golfer's list, The Champion features the Bear Trap, which spans three demanding holes designed by Jack Nicklaus. Considered one of Florida's most notable golf challenges, on what is unquestionably one of the best golf courses in Florida, USA Today calls the Bear Trap “one of the toughest stretches in golf.”

PGA TOUR'S TOUGHEST COURSE!
PGA National Resrot's Champion course, with it's demanding Bear Trap provided the toughest tournament test of golf during the 2013 PGA TOUR season according to Golf Digest.


The Fazio Course
PGA National Resort is proud to present the new Fazio course. The Fazio is a reinvention of The Haig, PGA National Resort & Spa's original 18-hole course that opened in 1980. The Haig was designed by George and Tom Fazio in tribute to five-time PGA champion Walter Hagen, and its renovation is being led by third-generation designer Tom Fazio II, who emphasized modernizing the course layout. While the original par-72 routing remains intact, the renovation improves the classic golf architecture with modern advances, including:
  • A 70% increase in total green surface to 2.5 acres, grassed with TifEagle on the greens and Celebration Bermuda grass on tees and fairways
  • Reconfigured tee boxes and bunkers
  • Player-friendly tees allowing the course to be played at 5,100 yards in accordance with the popular “Tee it Forward” initiative sponsored by the PGA and USGA
Fazio II himself believes his renovation “[achieves] that ideal balance where single-digit golfers will be fully challenged while higher handicaps will have a layout ideal for a day of enjoyable resort golf.”


The Palmer Course
Named after its designer, Arnold Palmer, this course is one of the more forgiving at PGA National Resort 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 – as golfers are not overly penalized for missing the fairway or primary rough on most holes here. There is a considerable amount of undulation through the fairway, presenting the opportunity for uneven lies and creative shot-making. The Palmer has a great series of finishing holes, with the 18th being one of the most scenic par 5s on the property.


The Squire Course
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. Accuracy with fairway woods and long irons is tested on many tees, and the new smaller "Emerald Bermuda" greens demand precise approach shots. Several doglegs provide a risk/reward opportunity for any longer hitter as well. The Squire is surrounded by natural areas teeming 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 Course
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 is one of the shorter courses at PGA National Resort & Spa. Where golfers are tested is in 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 over either hazards or bunkers create a test that makes each round more enjoyable than the last. With an open feeling created by the property-wide housing setbacks, the course seems almost like a core golf course. The Estates course is located five miles west of the main resort.

For more info about PGA National Resort, visit them online at: http://www.pgaresort.com/golf/pga-national-golf