With a huge golf tournament and two recently revived courses, the area’s golf scene is sitting pretty.
The Palm Beaches and Boca Raton area continues to draw both golf spectators and golfers. From star-studded PGA Tour tournaments to municipal course renovations, golf is alive and well in Palm Beach County.
Honda Classic Bigger than Ever
Many people don't know the Honda Classic has a long and celebrated history. It was originally known in 1972 as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, when Tom Weiskopf sank a 30-foot putt on the 71st hole to win the tournament, winning $52,000 in the process.
Skip to last year, when Y.E. Yang dominated the final round to win more than $1 million. The tournament has changed venues over the years and seen different champions, and now that it's played at PGA National, it's attracting bigger crowds than ever before.
This year, Yang, who went on to beat Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship, will be back to defend his title with other golfing luminaries like Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, Boo Weekly and others in a strong field.
This year's tournament is expected to bring in around $23 million and nearly 100,000 fans to the Palm Beach Gardens area on March 4-7 at PGA National, according to tournament organizers. When the event moved to PGA National in 2007, attendance nearly doubled.
Floyd Redesigns Palm Beach Par-3
After two years of planning and eight months of construction, the venerable Palm Beach Par-3 Golf Course reopened in late 2009.
The Raymond Floyd redesign of the Par-3 course is a story of city and residents coming together for the betterment of the community. The 50-year-old course had a recent, $4.5 million redesign: $2 million from the city and about $2 million in donations from Palm Beach residents excited by the presence of the Hall of Famer.
Floyd did the design work for free, and he's getting a tournament, the Raymond Floyd Open, named after him.
The aim of the redesign was, among other things, to get more and better ocean views. There had been four "ocean holes" in the old design and now there are six, making it one of the few courses in the state to have that many ocean holes.
Floyd also added tees, practice greens, collection areas around the greens and extended the driving range. The greens were contoured, and two lakes were added.
"It's beyond our expectations," city recreation director Jay Boodheshwar told the Palm Beach Daily News.
Officials say they are on track to build a new clubhouse.
West Palm Beach Municipal Reopens
Mark McCumber's recent redesign of the West Palm Beach Municipal golf course drew one of the biggest names in the history of golf. The historic course re-opened late last year after a seven-month restoration, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Arnold Palmer's win at the West Palm Beach Invitational, which was a regular stop of the PGA Tour in the 1950s and ’60s.
Palmer got a key to the city and saw a day declared in his name.
Dick Wilson, who also designed the Blue Monster at Doral, was the original architect, and McCumber's goal was to restore Wilson's original intent. To that end, thousands of trees were cut and there are now vast, sandy-white areas that give the course an old-Florida look and feel.
What makes the restoration even more unusual is that the project was paid by user fees, by the people who use it: The popular course hosts around 70,000 rounds a year.