Archive » October 28, 2010
GOLF & TRAVEL
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
If you are looking for a winter golf trip to Florida, take a good look at PGA Village in Port Saint Lucie. The quality of golf, weather and convenience combine to give one of the best golf offerings in the country. The courses were crafted by world-renowned golf architects Tom Fazio, Pete Dye and Reese Jones. There is a multitude of lodging options and restaurants close-by, and of course the fantastic winter weather that South Florida is known for.
The golfPGA Golf Club at PGA Village has 54 championship holes open to the public, as well as a nine-hole short course. The entire facility is owned and operated by the PGA of America, whose history adorns the walls of the club. The two Fazio layouts are named in honor of Wanamaker and Ryder, two men instrumental in starting the PGA. These courses, as well as all the golf facilities, are first-class all the way and PGA founders would be proud.
We played the Wanamaker Course on this first visit and the approach shots shape this layout. The fairways are relatively wide, but accuracy will be required as you hit to each green. The short par-three 6th hole is a perfect example. While most will play the hole from 170 yards or less, the well-guarded green will cause some anxiety. There is a sharp drop-off to the water on the left and a huge bunker short right. The green has severe undulation, and at faster green speeds ball placement will be a must.
The 18th hole is another example of why Fazio’s work is so well received. The medium-size par-four narrows the further down the fairway you travel, where a large lake comes in to play. This will cause a parity on distance for the final approach to the severely undulated green. Bogey should be no problem, but if you elect to go for a birdie, larger numbers are in play. All the courses were in excellent shape, as was the large double sided practice range.
For those who truly love to practice, there is a unique experience awaiting visitors to PGA Village. The PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance is a 35-acre practice facility just a couple of minutes away from PGA Golf Club. The size of this practice range gives players close to a 360 degree option on hitting direction, allowing one to prepare for any wind or sun angle you might encounter. They also have short game options second to none. Several large putting greens greet you as you enter, and just behind golfers will notice many bunkers. There are bunkers with every kind of sand you will ever experience, as well as target greens for every length approach. They even have a three-hole course to work on your “on course” game. The facility also includes state-of-the-art equipment for video/indoor instruction and golf fitness.
A trip to the PGA Learning Center would not be complete without visiting the PGA Historical Center located on site. On our visit, PGA Instructor Eric Hogge gave us a tour of this one-of-a-kind collection of golf artifacts from the game’s origins all the way through its Major Championships. We even got the chance to putt with the golf balls used in the late-1800s in Scotland. No doubt the game was more trying in those formative days.
The lodgingThere are options to fit every budget here from hotel rooms to condos. We stayed in the Perfect Drive Golf Villas, which are close to all the golf facilities. There is a nice Hilton Garden Inn equally as close, in addition to others to choose from just a mile or so away. PGA Village has some incredible “Stay and Play” packages on their website at PGAVillage.com.
Getting thereFlorida has many different airports to choose from on this visit, but most will opt for either Orlando to the north or West Palm Beach, which is just an hour south. PGA Village is about an hour and a half from the Orlando Airport, and the Florida Turnpike makes this drive almost effortless. Hertz offers excellent service at both locations and arguably has the best fleet in the Sunshine State.