2013 Golf Getaway in Palm Beach, Florida
Tee it up while your neighbors back home are scraping the ice off their windshields
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Old Palm Golf Club
The neighbors you meet at Old Palm Golf Club fully live the golf life that so many of us can only dream about. The ultra-luxurious gated community in Palm Beach Gardens has drawn top PGA stars like Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, and Charl Schwartzel with a combination of custom homes ranging from $1.2 to $12 million; amenities like a full fitness center, spa, and concierge service; and a fine golf course coupled with one of the best practice facilities anywhere.
Another neighbor is four-time major winner and Ryder Cup champion Raymond Floyd, who not only designed the Old Palm golf course but owns a house there as well. He’s a regular at the club’s ultracasual “pub night” in the elegant but relaxed clubhouse lounge. He’s a bit more laid back now than he was in his tournament days, although there’s still an intense flash in his eyes that matches the LeRoy Neiman portrait that hangs in the clubhouse.
The golf course Floyd designed takes full advantage of the property’s native foliage and rolling topography. Seven sets of tees make it playable from 4,976 to 7,401 yards, giving every golfer a challenge suitable to his or her skills. Fairway landing areas are generous but reward the strategic player who can position the ball off the tee. Greens were rebuilt in 2012 using TifEagle Bermuda grass, which yields a fast and true putting surface.
The front nine is routed through wetlands and savannah, while the back—which features tighter fairways and less water—winds through indigenous palm and pine trees. On the front, the 379-yard seventh hole presents excellent risk-and-reward options off the tee. It’s a slight dogleg right that can be cut with a 230-yard carry over the bunkers in the curve or played conservatively on the center line. The green on the 11th hole, a 185-yard par 3, has echoes of the 16th at Augusta National, while the 15th, a 166-yard one-shotter, has a VW microbus buried in the green to make for some interesting putts.
Home sites are set well back from the playing areas yet afford fine views of the course—not to mention the lakes and lagoons that wind through the 650-acre property. Old Palm’s Mediterranean-style clubhouse pampers you with fine and casual dining, a resort-style pool, and a luxurious spa and fitness facility. Just steps from the pool and clubhouse, Old Palm’s Casitas are the perfect guest-entertainment venue with charming tropical decor and well-appointed suites.
The 33-acre practice area includes a double-ended range, a short-game area, and a golf studio with covered hitting bays and all the electronics anyone could want or use. Three regulation practice holes—a par 3, 4, and 5—wrap around a lake next to the range, making Old Palm the perfect place to hone your game.
Mayacoo Lakes Country Club
Plenty of golfers think Mayacoo Lakes Country Club is the best golf course Jack Nicklaus ever designed—even though it was one of his first. The par 71, 6,906-yard layout is tough but fair, challenging but enjoyable, and definitely a course you could play every day. Purchase’s Old Oaks CC head pro Bobby Heins and his protégé, PGA tour winner Johnson Wagner, can often be found on the course during the winter months.
One of the biggest attractions at Mayacoo is the variety of challenges faced throughout the course. Thirteen holes feature water; melaleuca, pine, and palm trees line most of the fairways, so shot placement is essential. Six sets of tees allow the course to be played from as short as 4,973 yards.
The first par 5, the fifth hole, is an easy par at 517 yards but a tough birdie if an aggressive approach finds one of the four bunkers surrounding the green. The eighth, at 359 yards, is a tough little bunker fest; while the ninth hole, a short but fair par 5 at 505 yards, offers a birdie to those brave enough to challenge the water in front of the green.
Before you begin the back nine, sharpen up your aiming skills and make sure your driver is on board with your game plan. You’ll need both when you get to the 11th (371 yards) and 12th (386 yards) holes, both of which play over water off the tee—one tougher than the other depending on the wind. The 18th hole makes for a great finish. It plays 402 yards, but the water in front of the green has drowned the hopes of more than one player whose match came tied into the hole.
Members at Mayacoo also enjoy a pool, tennis courts, and dining and grill rooms, as well as newly renovated locker rooms and card rooms for both men and women, with picturesque views. It’s a family-style club that puts golf front and center.
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