PALM BEACH GARDENS – There’s a brand new kid at the PGA National Resort & Spa who’s about to steal some golf thunder from the resort’s famous champions course, the punishing home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.
The resort officially opened The Staple last Thursday, a 9-hole, par-3 course that, with its dramatically sloping greens, can be as challenging as the champion but a lot more fun. Especially for brand new golfers, weekend hackers, and others who appreciate a place where they can tee off with a group of family and friends, listen to music, and provide food and drinks from wherever they want.
The Staple was designed by golf course architect Andy Staples, who designed the layout for the 1st and 18th holes of the resort’s former squire course. Working closely with PGA National’s Director of Agriculture, Jeremiah Lockhart, and his staff, he also “invented” a short (approximately 5,850 yards), innovative 18-hole course on the Squire’s remaining 16 holes called The Match, which was designed around Labor Day is to be opened.
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“These two gentlemen have teamed up to create a masterpiece of fun, friendly golf that will appeal to golfers of all ages and levels, and we are confident it will become a ‘cornerstone’ of the golfing experience at PGA National,” said the club manager Jane Broderick, who is also the resort’s director of golf operations, at the opening ceremony on Wednesday when Staples and Lockhart severed the ribbon.
“I think it will stay and be a staple,” agreed Staples, adding that he “had nothing to do with that name. It’s a trend in golf that I hope you will all catch: the fever of fun. Those kind of courses, I think you’re going to see more and more of them built, it’s just the fact that you can come here with your family, with your kids, with your grandchildren, with your pals and just play golf and hit the shots .
“Each green is designed to provide an approach shot that you might encounter on the golf course. These are not necessarily par three. These are approaches and bank shots. “
Staples said each hole has a few nuances, be it a bunker on the green of the ninth hole, strokes over water, or vegetation in bunkers. Some greens have inclines that, when the pin is in the right place, act as backstops that can turn a too strong shot into a shot that lands next to the flag.
Hole spacings range from 50 to 140 yards, although players can tee off from anywhere. Staples said players walking around the course with a putter and a couple of clubs in hand or in a Sunday bag are encouraged to tee off from a bunker on the fifth hole. He imagines that whoever wins a hole will decide where the group will play from on the next hole. The course is “firmly mowed”, so there are many options.
“I hope you are actually not looking for an apartment. I hope you hit the flanks of hills, ”said Staples. “When I started this project, I felt like this is a place where we can all get together, get involved and enjoy the game of golf.”
Pleasure was a common refrain from those who played after the Wednesday ceremony.
“Kudos to the staff, Jane and her team. They were very warm, very welcoming, ”said Tony Javarone of Lake Clarke Shores. “I would compare that to the way the course was, very warm and welcoming and inviting.
“The greens were spectacular and having a bunker in the middle of the green was cool. Golf is fun. You will be frustrated, but you always have a chance to make par. You are always there. You always have the chance to win the hole wherever you hit it. “
Javarone added that his wife Monique is just getting started with golf and finds 18-hole courses intimidating. He said that won’t be a problem for her at The Staple, and he looks forward to playing her and her 13-year-old son Anthony there.
This is exactly what Broderick looks forward to, whether from locals, junior golfers, visiting golf buddy groups, company outings, and even wedding party members with little or no golfing experience. The Staple’s nine holes can also serve as a warm up or place to evaluate golf bets for 18-hole rounds on the resort’s Champion, Fazio, Palmer, and Estate courses.
Broderick said The Match bears little resemblance to The Squire, which was built in 1983. It will also be different from the other courses in that it will have maximum and minimum tees instead of various tee markings so that golfers can tee off anywhere in between. Developed by Staples for match play, the goal is that golfers can play fast – a common complaint is that golf takes too long – and have fun on a beautiful course.
“This is where the history of the sport will determine the future of the game,” said Broderick.
PGA National has got off to a good start with the brand new Staple course.