Golfing Magazine Online -
PGA National Resort & Spa
John Torsiello
By John Torsiello
Published on 02/11/2011

PGA National Resort & Spa

As Good as it Gets for a Traveling Golfer

Few destinations have a golf pedigree as storied as PGA Resort & Spa and its Champion Course.  The legendary South Florida vacation spot’s vaunted resume includes hosting the 1983 Ryder Cup, 1987 PGA Championship, and nearly two decades of the Senior PGA Championship.

Currently, PGA National hosts The Honda Classic, one of the PGA TOUR’s premier events and the first stop on its famous “Florida Swing.” Recent tournament winners include elite TOUR players such as Camilo Villegas, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington. Harrington, the 2005 champion, says that outside the majors, The Champion at PGA National is “the best course we play on TOUR.”
PGA National is also home to the trifecta of holes named “The Bear Trap” on The Champion – holes 15, 16 and 17 where designer Jack Nicklaus famously said, “It should be won or lost right here.” Why so hard? Water, water and more water. In the 2010 Honda Classic, winner Camilo Villegas played the three-hole stretch in even par over four rounds. The field tallied 352 over-par scores. Play them at your own risk.

For those wanting the Full Monty of a real TOUR experience and trying to tame the mighty Bear Trap, PGA National offers its “PGA Honda Classic Experience” stay-and-play package year-round. In addition to staying in the resort hotel where the majority of the fields stays for the event, the TOUR experience begins with a photo-op on the first tee of The Champion. To enhance the challenge, PGA TOUR tournament green speeds are kept at knee-buckling, double-digit Stimpmeter readings along with Honda Classic hole flags. Garmin GPS provides pinpoint yardages and caddies are available wearing Augusta style jumpsuits. It’s as close to a PGA experience as one can get without going through Q-School.

Additionally, PGA National boasts four other excellent layouts. The Palmer – an Arnold Palmer signature course with a subtle nod to the game’s Scottish roots.  The Haig – designed by George and Tom Fazio with no forced carries over water hazards, thus offering a true resort-style playing experience. The Squire is a tough test of accuracy and precision, and dubbed, “the thinking man’s course.” The Estates is designed by Karl Litten and is a quick drive from the resort grounds. The Estates is flat-out excellent and regularly hosts the Monday Qualifier for the Honda Classic.

For those who don’t yet play like a pro, the PGA National Golf Academy is home to the country’s best golf instruction. On-site programs from both the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and the Dave Pelz Scoring Game School, along with tour level custom club fitting from the PGA National Club Fitting Lab, are available. The whole locale is a one-stop golf heaven.

After a round, indulge in one of more than 100 treatments offered by The Spa at PGA National, lounge in the magnificent zero-entry pool, or enjoy one of the nine on-site restaurants and lounges highlighted by the Ironwood Grille’s fresh seafood, juicy steaks and an array of fine wines even including selections from the vineyards of Greg Norman, Ernie Els and David Frost.  The classy iBAR in the lobby is the perfect spot to recount your fortunes or misfortunes on The Champion’s Bear Trap or one of the other championship courses.
If you’re a traveling golfer, PGA National Resort & Spa is just about as good as it gets.

For more information on the PGA Honda Classic Experience, or to make reservations, visit, or call (800) 533.9386.