PGA National’s Champion Course is Now Even Better (and Tougher)

PGA National’s Champion Course is Now Even Better (and Tougher)
PGA National Resort & Spa's mighty Champion Course is, of course, known for its diabolical Bear Trap (Nos. 15-17) which can strike fear into many a golfer's heart when coming down the stretch.

“Probably some of the toughest three holes in world golf, really,” says 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. “You kind of just have to man up and hit the shot. You start bailing out, and you're in trouble.”

Sergio Garcia says, “They're very challenging holes, all of them. Without hitting terrible shots, you can make a double, a par and a bogey, and you leave those holes shooting 3 over and you don't feel like you hit bad shots.”

Now the players are going to have to deal with the beefed-up par-4 14th as well before they even get to the evil ursine trifecta. PGA National brought in Jack Nicklaus for series of renovations. Most notably, Nicklaus relocated the 14th green 17 yards to the right, bringing water into play on the approach shot. The tee also was moved back 10 yards, and bunkers were built in front and behind the green to further strengthen the already challenging 465-yard hole.

“It seemed a shame not to have the water nearer to the green,” says Nicklaus, who re-designed the original George and Tom Fazio design in 1990. “It produces a little more freedom and it produces a very strong par-4 going into the Bear Trap. I honestly believe it will be more exciting.”

2014 U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer said in his Wednesday pretournament press conference, “I think it became a lot better hole. They brought water the water a little more into play. So it's a very tough finish now.”

The course will also play faster and firmer as Nicklaus re-grassed the fairways, green surrounds and tees with cutting-edge Celebration Bermuda.

“The Celebration Bermuda will provide us with major-like conditions,” says Lukus Harvey, PGA National Resort & Spa's Director of Agronomy. “The Honda Classic field is perennially on par with golf's four majors, and now we have the turf to provide similar conditions.”

The new turf has been a big hit with the resort's guests as well as solid drives off the tee roll out a bit farther. “We can all use an extra 20 yards of roll,” says Harvey.

Beside the “bucket list” Champion Course, PGA National additionally has the Palmer, Fazio, Squire and Estate courses for 90 holes of golf heaven. It has the unique distinction of being home to both the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and Dave Pelz Scoring Game School, along with offering a PGA TOUR-level fitting experience at the PGA National Club Fitting Lab. The resort also offers Every Ball Counts – the world's first science-based, statistics-driven training system for golf improvement.

For golf nuts like me, few destinations approach PGA National Resort & Spa.

For more information: or call 561.627.2000.