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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Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

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Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.

12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.

1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

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Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $7 million

Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Notables in the field

Jordan Spieth

• Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

• 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

• Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)

Brooks Koepka

• Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

• First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

• First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)

Justin Thomas

• Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

• Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)

Rory McIlroy

• Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

• Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)

Jason Day

• Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

• Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season

Patrick Reed

• Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

• Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)

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Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.

The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.

Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.

“It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

“It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.

Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.

“It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”