Review PGA National Resort Spa

By Mike BaileyOctober 26, 2010, 7:20 pm
bear trap
An intimidating grizzly marks the entrance to the Bear Trap (Courtesy PGA National)

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – There aren't many resorts where guests can play five different golf courses all in the same location. South Florida's PGA National Resort & Spa, which enters a new era with its major updates to the golf courses and the resort, would be near the top of a short list.

Located next to the PGA of America headquarters, one of the resort's five golf courses, the Champion Course, has as much history and tradition as many storied layouts with a higher profile reputation. Originally designed Tom and George Fazio – and more famously renovated by Jack Nicklaus – The Champ, as they like to call it around here, is the site of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.
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The Champ also was the stage for the 1987 PGA Championship, 1982-2000 PGA Senior Championship and 1983 Ryder Cup. PGA National also now houses the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, the Dave Pelz Scoring School and Titleist Performance Institute. It's the only resort in the world to have both the Leadbetter and Pelz schools in one location.

Naturally, the rest of the resort needed to hold its own as well, and a new ownership group, which acquired PGA National in 2006, didn't disappoint. The new group embarked on a massive makeover of the AAA 4-Diamond resort, which has resulted in a golf destination that includes top-tier dining, lounges, fitness facilities and spa.

'Our $65 million revitalization gives us a sophisticated new feel and complements our overall guest experience,' says Joel Paige, vice president and managing director. 'We felt the investment was the perfect vehicle to celebrate our 30-year anniversary as we continue to build customers for life.'

Golf, golf and more golf at PGA National

The combination of golf courses, practice facilities and game improvement opportunities makes PGA National of the most complete golf resorts in the world. It starts with the Champion Course, which has history on its side.

Opened in 1981, the golf course's first high profile event was the 25th Ryder Cup in 1983, which the U.S. team narrowly won, continuing a decades-long string of dominance by the Americans. PGA National also was the site of the 1987 PGA Championship, won by Larry Nelson. It had a long history of playing host to the Senior PGA Championship, and now the PGA Tour visits PGA National each spring.

The Champion, which has undergone significant improvements over the past decade, is the home of the famous 'Bear Trap,' a stretch of three holes with two difficult and watery par 3s sandwiched around a par 4 (holes 15-17). It has a reputation for difficulty, especially in the wind.

The other four classic south Florida golf courses at PGA National also feature plenty of water, trees, gators and gently rolling fairways. They're not too shabby either.

Those other courses include: The Palmer, which is actually slightly longer than The Champion at 7,079 yards; The Haig, a George and Tom Fazio design that pays tribute to five-time PGA Champion Walter Hagen; The Squire, which is also designed by the Fazios and pays homage to Gene Sarazen; and The Estates, a Karl Litten design that's a short drive from the resort.

'With our five courses – including the Champion, home of the legendary Bear Trap – the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, the Dave Pelz Scoring Game School, tour quality club fitting, and some of the finest fitness Instruction in the U.S., we are able to offer golfers of all skill levels an unparalleled golf experience.,' said Jane Broderick, director of golf operations at PGA National.

PGA National has a more elegant feel

From the rooms to the spa and the restaurants, the resort has a more updated feel these days. Large flatscreen TVs, ultra-comfortable beds and new furnishings adorn the 379 rooms and suites at PGA National. Then there's the 40,000 square-foot European spa, which features 32 treatment rooms and more than 100 different treatments.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing Swedish massage, facial or simply looking to pass the time, the spa is the perfect antidote for the Bear Trap. Outdoor mineral pools, dubbed the 'Waters of the World,' top off the experience.

The resort also offers ultra modern fitness facilities, including the newly remodeled Health and Racquet Club, which has a 33,000-square-foot fitness center that includes tennis and racquetball courts. The Titleist Performance Institute, which guides golfers through critical physical assessments and training, is also part of the equation, and for golfers looking for the complete package, it's a great start.

Dining at PGA National also has been ramped up to new levels. The Ironwood Grille is cornerstone of the resort's dining as it opens up to the lobby and the hotel's popular iBAR. The Ironwood Grille has a level of casual sophistication, with a food and wine menu to match.

Entrées include certified Angus beef, fresh local seafood and chef's specials. There's also a large collection of private wine labels from PGA Tour players such as Greg Norman, as well as a wine cellar stocked with more than 1,000 bottles of fine vintages.

The iBAR, which has become a resort favorite, offers more casual fare, plus live entertainment and sports on its TV monitors. The resort likes to stage events there like wine-tastings and 'Ladies Night Out.'

There's also dining at the spa, private dining and even a fine cigar bar at the resort. And the resort boasts nearly 100,000 square feet of meeting space, both indoors and outdoors.

PGA National Resort & Spa: The verdict

In time, almost anything can become worn out, and the new owners of PGA National Resort & Spa certainly recognized that and didn't waste any time or money. A hallway to the large golf shop and staging area of the golf courses is littered with photographs of past champions and golf legends to make sure it never loses its golf heritage.

At the same time, the inviting iBAR in the lobby welcomes guests into the new era. There, you can watch a game or listen to live music. Or guests can retreat to the fine dining of the Ironwood Grille, and they don't have to go far.

What it all provides – including a terrific spa where some of it therapists have two decades of experience or more – is a great environment for the golf courses. It's perfect for a guys' trip or couples retreat. The courses are all in excellent shape, and there are plenty of other activities in a luxurious setting to keep everyone entertained.
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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.