Mets PGA Golf Club give Port St Lucie killer twinbill

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Throughout March, GolfChannel.com will spotlight various MLB spring training locations throughout Florida. A total of 16 MLB teams visit Florida each spring during a time when the state's golf season is also in full swing. We highlight the options for golf and baseball in each region, giving you, the fan, the ultimate guide to golf and baseball in the Sunshine State. Play Ball!
 
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. ' The New York Mets were just one-and-a-half years removed from their last World Series title when they moved their Spring Training headquarters north to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in 1988. At that time, Port St. Lucie was as much a golf vacation hot spot as Flushing, Queens, the real home of the Mets. It was essentially a rest stop on the way to Miami.
 
johann santana
Mets.com
All that changed as suddenly as a Johann Santana breaking pitch, however, when the PGA of America opened its flagship property, The PGA Golf Club, in 1996, right across Interstate 95 from the Mets Tradition Field complex. The first of two 18-hole public courses, the North and South (later renamed the Ryder Course and the Wanamaker Course after a renovation in 2006), debuted that year, and were followed by a third, the Dye Course, in December 1999. A 35-acre practice facility was added to the mix a short time later, putting Port St. Lucie on the map as far as Florida golf destinations go.
 
The PGA Golf Club was ranked the 30th best public golf facility by Golf World magazine in 2008, and as one of The 75 Best Golf Resorts in North America by Golf Digest (2006).
 

Q&A with the New York Mets
Of course, no one was happier to have this new facility in their backyard than the Mets players and coaches. During the first few weeks of camp, many of the players, including David Wright and Santana, can be found playing pitch and putt at one of the three courses, the PGA Country Club or the PGA Learning Center. The Mets pitchers, which include Santana, Oliver Perez, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey, often pair up against each other in best-ball tournaments.
 
I was the designated hitter for Johann and Oliver one night for about five holes, said PGA General Manager Bob Baldassari, a PGA Professional. They couldnt keep the ball in the fairway. I think they were trying to hit home runs instead of going up the middle [of the fairway]. But theyve got tremendous hand-eye coordination, and theyre very good around the greens. And very, very, very competitive.
 

General Info on Mets Spring Training
The Ryder and Wanamaker courses were both designed by Tom Fazio. The Ryder course was named in honor of Samuel Ryder, founder of the Ryder Cup, the biennial competition between Europe and the United States. It has a distinctive Carolina feel to it, much like two of Fazios more prominent layouts'Pinehurst Resorts Nos. 4 and 8'with majestic pine trees lining each fairway. The Wanamaker, named after Rodman Wanamaker, the inspiration behind the formation of the PGA of America, is a traditional Florida golf course with palm trees, wide fairways and water everywhere. The scenic par-4 18th hole is considered by many to be the best finishing hole, if the not the best hole, on the property. The dogleg-right hole is guarded by a large beach bunker and lake along the entire right side of the fairway, which slopes toward the lake to make for a daunting tee shot. Any approach shot to the right of the green is likely to find water, and if you bail to the left, a tricky pitch shot to a fast green sloping toward the lake awaits.
 
The Dye course cuts through 100 acres of wetlands and is named for its architect, Pete Dye, who was inducted into the 2008 World Golf Hall of Fame. Dye says it is his most environmentally-friendly design, yet golfers will find it very similar to other Dye link-style layouts because of the roller-coaster like greens, shaved embankments, pine straw rough and heavy bunkering. Youll find all different types and sizes of bunkers on the Dye, often on the same hole, including large coquina waste bunkers, grass bunkers and pot bunkers. Just to the left of the green on the par-5 7th hole is the smallest pot bunker I have ever seen'about four feet long and barely wide enough to fit any stance. And if youre prone to getting seasick, you may want to stay away from the par-4 8th hole. The last 75 yards on this short hole is as bumpy a ride as youll ever find on a golf course, a series of moguls that leave you wanting to reach for a pair of skis, or Dramamine.
 
The most heavily bunkered hole, and the most spectacular, is the par-4 18th. From the tee, you can see more than a dozen fairway bunkers, all carved into the faces of large, grassy dunes which give the hole a distinct European flavor.
 
Each course has five sets of tees to choose from, with the Dye Course playing the longest from the tips at 7,279 yards. If you want to play something much shorter, there is the complimentary six-hole PGA Short Course, which youll see on your left-hand side while driving into the club. Distances of the holes range from 35 to 60 yards.
 
The real gem of the PGA Village is the state-of-the-art practice facility, which is open till 10 p.m. every night. A $24 daily fee gives you all-day access to the facility, so you can practice before and after any Mets home games. It includes a horseshoe-shaped teeing area (so the wind is coming at you from every direction), 7,000 square feet of flat and rolling practice greens, pitching and chipping areas, and a three-hole teaching course. The bunker area features seven different types of sands from around the world so you can simulate what its like to hit a bunker shot in Scotland.
 
There is no truth to the rumor, however, that some of the infield dirt from the recently demolished Shea Stadium resides in these bunkers.