World-class golf at our doorstep

Ryder Course

The 17th hole on the Ryder Course is a challenging par-5 hole with strategically placed sand traps, making it tricky to hit the green in two shots. The PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie features four championship golf courses within two miles of I-95. GREG GARDNER PHOTO

PGA Golf Club undergoes makeover, expansion


The game of golf may have originated in Scotland, but the Professional Golfers’ Association of America has brought world-class golf and its rich American history to Port St. Lucie.

In time for the PGA of America’s 100th anniversary with a new makeover and expansion of the PGA Golf Club, members and the public can play four different courses, and after a round of golf enjoy 360-degree close-up views of the four major golf tournament trophies.

Tom Hoch Design drew the plans for doubling the size of the original clubhouse built in 1996 to 20,000 square feet. PGA Golf Club at PGA Village is the corporation’s flagship property with three Tom Fazio courses and a Pete Dye design. The St. Lucie Trail Course was known in the past as the St. Lucie West Country Club.

Last year, 130,000 golfers walked past the game’s most famous trophies and a gallery devoted to the history of the sport in the U.S. and abroad. A sculpture of the American Eagle swooping down to snatch the Ryder Cup from the Europeans is an awesome addition to the Captains’ Room, which honors past captains of the biannual international competition. It has just enough chairs for the team to sit in conference to discuss strategy.

Named for the informal group of businessmen who would launch the PGA in 1916, The Taplow Pub is decorated in an “American-British fusion style.” With 100 seats, the quaint yet contemporary bar has 15 independent televisions, including one in each booth that can play anything from instructional videos to the Golf Channel.

As you walk out of the Taplow Pub you pass the trophy case on the way to the Pro Shop. It is home to the PGA Championship trophy, named for Rodman Wanamaker, the department store magnate who paid for the first tournament’s purse and the trophy. Also on display are copies of the British Open Claret Jug, the Masters Trophy, and the U.S. Open Championship Trophy.

Behind the trophies is the historical gallery, which includes the Alfred S. Bourne Senior PGA Championship Trophy and the legendary Vardon Trophy with its overlapped hands. The artifacts and trophies have been relocated to create a shrine to the game of golf and the history of the PGA.

PGA Golf Club members now enjoy the brand new Nineteen-Sixteen Bar and Grille, with its own kitchen, airy dining room and bar with views out to the 18th hole of the Wanamaker Course, known years ago as the South Course. Outside the bar is the Wanamaker Pavilion, a covered patio with fire pits and comfortable chairs so people can watch players finish their rounds.

The President’s Board Room pays homage to leaders of the PGA for the past 100 years and opens out to the patio. The kitchen was expanded, including the addition of a large pizza oven.

The Pro Shop now opens up to a high ceiling. The sales counter was moved to the center to give it a “retail center vibe.” Elevated platforms around the room display golf apparel. Separate expanded, brand-new locker rooms are available for members, their guests and the public.

“This newly renovated and expanded clubhouse signals a transformation for PGA Golf Club,” said general manager Jimmy Terry. “We now have a magnificent cornerstone to accompany our championship golf courses that will serve as a point of pride for our PGA members, guests and golfers from around the world to enjoy.”

During the high season, 225 employees serve 1,600 members and the public. During the season, half the golfers come from the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states to play at PGA Golf Club.

As part of the renovations, extensive work was completed on the Wanamaker Course at a cost of $350,000. All 14 fairways on the Tom Fazio design were regrassed with Celebration, a hybrid Bermuda strain. Celebration has a striking blue-green look to it and recovers quickly from divots.

The sand traps (bunkers) faces were resodded with Empire Soysia, a slower growing grass that requires less mowing. Four ornamental grasses were planted in the danger zones on either side of the fairways: Burgundy Fountain, White Fountain, Dwarf Fakahatchee and Muhlenbergia.

“The whole course has a Scottish look to it and players say the ball bites when it hits the green,” says Dick Gray, PGA Golf Club greenskeeper. The Pete Dye Course could be the next course to be reseeded with Celebration, which is the next generation DNA from 50-year-old Bermuda grass. Gray believes that in the future the other two courses will be reseeded with Celebration.

“I couldn’t be happier sitting here at the bar having a Bloody Mary and watching people coming in to the 18th hole making fools of themselves,” says Butch Chapell, a PGA Golf Club member for the past five years. “It reminds you of being at a private golf course, but you are not. The four golf courses are spectacular and we are spoiled.”

Tim Legel is a retired Air Force fighter pilot who likes how the clubhouse caters to the members. “It’s fabulous and a beautiful facility,” says Legel. “The management has done a pretty good job serving the public and the members at the same time by providing areas to accommodate both members and the public. The courses are in the best shape I’ve seen them in the past 10 years.” In an ongoing effort to pass the game of golf on to future generations, the PGA Golf Club will offer free golf to anyone 17 and under playing with a paying adult from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2016. PGA Golf Club is open 365 days a year.