PGA Golf Club: It Gets in Your Head
By: Pat Farnan
Golf in Florida routinely brings to mind classic courses in places such as Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Naples and the Jacksonville area.
But Port St. Lucie, halfway down the peninsula on Florida’s East Coast, features a golfing mecca that compares with some of the best.
The PGA Club at PGA Village offers everything a golfer could want. Four championship golf courses, a short course, unlimited practices facilities, an elaborate and extensive learning center, fine food, lodging at or near the complex, and much more.
“I just love this place,’’ said Steve Guthrie, 69, whose home borders the 7th hole at the Ryder Course. “These are great golf courses run by people who really care about the game. It’s fun to be around here. Why would you ever want to go anywhere else?’’
Here are three reasons why, if you are planning to be in the area, you should avail yourself of the outstanding golf and facilities at the PGA Club.
That’s why you come, right? The four courses here are terrific, and all very different. The Dye Course, designed by legendary golf course architect Pete Dye, is a walk on the wild side, literally and figuratively. The course makes extensive use of native plants and shrubs, waste areas, extensive mounding and trapping.
“It’s Scotland without the airfare,’’ said Dick Gray, the veteran and well-regarded superintendent for all four golf courses who prefers the modest title of greens keeper.
“This course is arrhythmic from all the other courses. The optics are different. It makes you think differently. It gets in your head.’’
The Ryder Course, named after Ryder Cup founder Samuel Ryder, generally is thought to be the easiest of the four. It’s a smooth, velvety walk through pines and rolling hills. But it is not easy. Designed by another famous golf course architect, Tom Fazio, it is a more rhythmic approach, with contours and sloping and that seem to lead naturally from one hole to the next. The fairways area generous and most of the greens are on the large side, with plenty of contour.
The Wanamaker Course, another spectacular design by Tom Fazio, is a classic Florida course that employs plenty of water hazards, bunkering and native trees and plants. Named after PGA founder Rodman Wanamaker, it’s a stern test from any of the five tees used at all four courses. It is also a stunning piece of property and a beautifully presented layout.
The St. Lucie Trail, actually located about 10 minutes from the PGA Club, is a picturesque layout with many tree-lined fairways. While shorter than the other courses, it plays longer because shots don’t roll out as much. The emphasis is on stragegy and placement of shots. Formerly the PGA Country Club, it was designed by Tom Fazio’s brother, Jim Fazio, another well-known architect who designed the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.
Four different golf courses. Four different looks. Four challenging and beautiful layouts.
The PGA Learning Center
Beginner or expert, this facility has everything you need to learn or perfect your game: equipment, clothing, lessons, practice facilities, a large and helpful staff of PGA professional ready to assist your every need.
The indoor facility includes a high-speed swing performance simulator where you can hit balls, in air-conditioned comfort, to learn what happens when you hit a ball, including sidespin, backspin, trajectory, roll out, et al. There’s a putting lab, where your stroke can be analyzed for arc, tempo, putter path, face angle relative to the ball, and other insights into how you roll it. The learning center also offers a complex video swing analysis where, after taking a few swipes, you can sit down with a pro and learn about your swing plane, swing arc, swing speed, angle of attack, various positions throughout the swing, and, best of all, what to do to make them all better.
And, of course, what learning center would be complete without a complete fitness center to buff up and get your body in shape to make all the right moves.
The outdoor facility is just as impressive. It is roughly 35 acres of practice facilities. It features multiple practice putting greens, long rolling expanses to test your short, medium and long putting. There are practice sand traps and practice chipping areas. There are also acres of driving ranges with long, level teeing areas, practice greens and traps. There are even massive sun shades overhead to protect you from the omnipresent Florida sunshine.
If you want to learn about golf, get better or shave your handicap down to zero, this is the place to be.
The PGA Village
Along with an impressive residential area, the PGA Village offers a host of other amenities to make your stay enjoyable. A variety of comfortable lodging is available at or near the PGA Village. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, right in the Village.
It was a lovely facility, with spacious rooms, comfortable bed, high-speed wireless and a flat-screen HDTV with on-demand movies. The staff was beyond accommodating, even visiting our room at one point to help us with an internet issue. The beautiful outdoor pool was big enough to swim laps, and the adjoining whirlpool was a comfort for tired muscles. The hotel also has its own workout facility, and 1,600-feet of divisible banquet and meeting space.
As for dining, again plenty of options are available at or near the PGA Village. Our favorite at the village was the Champions Grill and Taplow Pub. We enjoyed delicious lunches from a friendly and attentive staff. At night, the dinner menu went well beyond our expectations, with a variety of seafood, beef, pork and chicken entrees that would satisfy the palate of most any gourmand. Really terrific food.
Last but not least, nearly everyone we encountered at the PGA Village and the PGA Club seemed happy to be there and genuinely interested in our comfort and enjoyment.
“We care about this place and we try to show it,’’ said Frank Mencik, 83, a starter on the golf courses and, as he likes to say, “the original employee” of the club. “We want people to enjoy this as much as we do.’’
When you go…
1916 Perfect Dr.
Port St. Lucie, Fla. 34986