Golf and Sports in Port St. Lucie
Sports fans will enjoy Jai-Alai, baseball and golf in Port St. Lucie, along with some other venues to visit after the game.
Port St. Lucie on Florida's central east coast is home to PGA Village, a golf destination of Disney-sized proportions. Here, you can book tee times on its three 18-hole courses designed by golf architect greats Tom Fazio and Pete Dye.
The Wanamaker Course is a classic Florida layout surrounded by palms and wetlands while the Ryder Course, with its towering pines and rolling hills, plays more like a Carolina course. Both were designed by Fazio and re-opened in October 2006 after undergoing multi-million-dollar renovations and enhancements. The Dye Course, a popular links-style layout, carries a hint of the British Isles, and began its renovations in summer 2007.
PGA Village also plays host to tournaments such as the Callaway Golf PGA Senior Club Professional Championship and the TaylorMade-Adidas Golf PGA Assistant Professional Championship.
At the village's 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning & Performance, the PGA Golf School comes equipped with top-rate instructors, world-class technology for swing analysis, club fitting and game improvement – Dynamic Balance System, SAm PuttLab, LinxTracker/PGA PAR System. Sign up for individual classes or a weekend clinic to improve your full swing, short game, chipping and/or putting.
Those who prefer the crack of the bat to swinging a golf club will find a home at Digital Domain Park, where the 1986 World Series-winning New York Mets conduct spring training and the St. Lucie Mets take to the field in summer.
Though it hasn't yet gained mainstream popularity (at least in the U.S.), jai-alai - pronounced "hi-li" - is all the rage in nearby Fort Pierce. Fort Pierce Jai-Alai has showcased the fast-paced Basque sport for 32 years - and allowed pari-mutuel betting on it (learn more about the sport below).
You can certainly bet on the fact that in Port St. Lucie, life is all about sports.
If your travel companions don't want to spend all day (every day) at the game, you're in luck. Port St. Lucie and its environs have plenty to offer the non-sports enthusiast. Here are a few ideas:
A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery: See the nation's largest exhibit of paintings by Florida landscape artist A.E. Backus. Backus, a white Southerner, befriended self-taught African-American artists around the 1950s. The Florida Highwaymen, as this group came to be known (for selling paintings of Florida landscapes along the state's roadways), also have a gallery here. Rotating exhibition space also features contemporary artists from across the U.S from October to May.
Florida Dolphin Watch: Board a small-group boat tour through the Indian River Lagoon, where you'll see dolphins at play and numerous other wildlife species.
Savannas Preserve State Park: This preserve is the largest and most intact remnant of Florida's east coast savannas. Visit the Environment Education Center and join a naturalist-guided walk for superb birding opportunities. Ranger-led canoe trips when the water lever is high enough and nature walks are also offered at certain times throughout the year.
A brief description of the sport: Jai-alai is a round-robin type of game consisting of eight players (called "teams") each using a basket (a "cesta") to hurl a small ball (the "pelota") against the front wall of a three-walled court (the object being to fling the pelota with enough speed that the opposing team can't return it). There are rules about where the ball must bounce related to serving and other lines on the court. Teams rotate on and off the court so that only two teams play at once. The team that scores a point stays; the other rotates off until their next turn. The goal is to be the first team to score seven points (or nine in a perfect game).
Get a green night's sleep
The Sheraton PGA Vacation Resort is a golf- and family-oriented time share condo resort with all-villa accommodations. Though not connected with the PGA itself, the PGA Village sits (literally) in its backyard.