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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Emerald Dunes Club
A just-completed multimillion-dollar renovation by Tom Fazio, the original designer, makes Emerald Dunes Club an excellent choice for those second-home owners who don’t live in a dedicated golf community. It’s a challenging but perfectly playable course where there’s plenty of risk and reward to go with the refined landscaping and sense of isolation that comes from the 2,000 trees recently planted along the club’s perimeter.
Emerald Dunes opens with a pair of enjoyable birdie opportunities—a 504-yard par 5 and a 400-yard par 4—but the teeth come out on the fourth hole, the first par 3—168 yards over water and a major bunker with a small bailout area to the left. A delightful rock-ledge waterfall frames the green back right. That’s followed by a double-dogleg 562-yard par 5 with water all the way to the green on the left and bunkers lining the fairway on the right. The back nine offers some birdie opportunities as long as you’re not risk-averse. The 11th hole, a 489-yard par 5, is one of them, especially for the long drivers in the group. The 18th hole, a 433-yard par 4, has a big, inviting fairway but long approach to an elevated green.
Fazio also designed a new short-game practice area with multiple target and chipping greens, sand and grass bunkers (including a shallow-face fairway bunker), and a huge putting green to go with a double-ended range, a learning center with two teaching bays, and a club-fitting area. Members also enjoy a unique yearly dues arrangement that includes absolutely everything—even all food and beverages. The club has an excellent caddie program as well.
Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach
Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach is one of the most visually stunning and competitively challenging courses in Florida. Members of the Palm Beach club enjoy a true championship course that has hosted nine LPGA tour events with winners like Annika Sörenstam, Karrie Webb, and Lorena Ochoa; another nine holes with a daring island green; and a practice facility where many tour regulars work on their game. Lexi Thompson was working on her short game when I was there.
Designed by Jim Fazio (with ample and expert advice from the man whose name is over the door), the course opened to well-deserved acclaim in 1999. Two lakes and elevations as high as 58 feet above sea level dominate the geography, while tasteful landscaping provides colorful accents throughout. The course is par 72 with six sets of tees ranging from 5,314 to 7,326 yards. Check the course rating and slope before you choose a tee box—this course punishes testosterone-fueled foolishness.
The opening hole, par 4 at 475 yards, is relatively benign as long as you avoid the creek that meanders along the right side of the fairway, but don’t rush to the second tee box until you pause to see the entrance to President John Kennedy’s former bomb shelter along the way. The last two holes on the front are stand-up holes. The eighth is a 473-yard par 4 with a big, elevated, well-bunkered green with a false front, while the ninth is simply breathtaking—a 553-yard par 5 with water left and bunkers right.
On the back side, the 13th, a 469-yard par 4, has more bunkers than mortal man (or woman) should ever face on one hole. When you reach the tee box on the 550-yard par-5 15th hole, stop and think before you aim your drive. A creek and a long line of bunkers—which you’ll have to cross twice to reach the green—split the fairway. The signature hole on the course is the par-3 17th, where the $3.2 million waterfall and amazing tropical foliage can easily distract you from your 215-yard tee shot over the lake in front of the green. Quite frankly, the 469-yard par-4 18th hole is just as spectacular, with its elevated tee, water, huge bunkers, and magnificent clubhouse in the background.