PGA Village of Port St Lucie: Championship Holes, Learning Academy & Golf Museum

    PGA Village in Port St. Lucie offers championship golf courses as well as a learning academy and the PGA Museum of Golf.

    By Frank Fenton

    The PGA Village in Port St. Lucie is comprised of the PGA Golf Club, with 54 championship holes by legendary course architects Tom Fazio and Pete Dye; the 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance golf instruction, technology, fitness and practice park; and the PGA Museum of Golf, home to golf’s four major Championship trophies.

    Owned and operated by The PGA of America, PGA Village is a public-access golf resort, located in a magnificent setting to experience the game. While offering both affordable public play and unique club membership opportunities, the facility also serves as the home course for members of The PGA of America.

    For families and beginners, there is also a six-hole Short Course at PGA Golf Club, with distances ranging from 30-60 yards per hole, and a Discover Golf Course at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance, where you can roll off I-95 and play for a nominal fee.

    The PGA Village in Port St. Lucie offers three Championship layouts – the Wanamaker, Ryder and Dye Courses. The courses were renovated by their designers in recent years, with beautiful new Tif-Eagle greens and Tif Grand Tees installed on the Wanamaker in 2011.

    Named for its storied designer, the Dye course features native grasses and large parcels of coquina shell waste areas with pine straw rough. With its many grass bunkers and steep sand traps, it has the distinctive feel and look of a links-style layout. The greens tend to be somewhat narrow, but are very deep from front to back, offering a multitude of tricky pin placements. The course is rated a tough 75.9 with a slope of 147 from the tips. Yet, you can also experience a friendlier 6,250 yards, with a slope and rating of 71/132 from the middle standard tees.

    Number two is a par 4 that plays similarly to a par 5 with the yardage from the back tees at 497. It is also a strong 410 yards from the standard tees with lots of waste area and native grass to avoid.

    The sixth hole is a noted par 3 that plays to a very well-protected green and showcases an abundance of bunkers and a lake. The 18th is a par 4 that plays pretty straight away to a well-guarded putting surface. The green is the key to this hole.

    My favorite is the Ryder course, designed by Tom Fazio and named for Samuel Ryder, the Founder of the Ryder Cup. It has a more open “Carolina” feel with plenty of rolling hills and pine trees. From the back tees, it plays 7,037 with a rating/slope of 73.9/134. From the standard tees, it is 6,144 and 69.7/126, still a fine test.

    The seventh hole, a strong par 3 that plays 238 yards from the back and 199 from the standard tees, is guarded by a large pond on the right so you should aim a little left to be safe.

    Number 13 is a burly par 5 with a heavily bunkered green to catch any shots that come up short. Carry the bunkers and you’ll get a chance at a birdie.

    The par 4 number 18 is a beautiful finishing hole that moves slightly uphill toward the clubhouse to a speedy, but fair, green. You can make a birdie here with a deft putt. Tom Fazio does a great job on all of his designs, but this is one of his best.

    Fazio’s Wanamaker Course is named after Rodman Wanamaker, who was instrumental in the founding of The PGA and the namesake of the Wanamaker Trophy, which is annually awarded to the PGA Champion. This impressive layout is used for several top PGA of America tournaments, such as the PGA Stroke Play Championship, PGA Assistant Professional Championship and the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship.

    At 7,123 from the tournament tees, it is rated at 74.8 with a killer slope of 144. It is more of a traditional Florida-style course with palm trees and plenty of lakes. The fairways roam through the palmettos and wetlands, making driving and iron accuracy key skills required to beat this course.

    The par 4, 18th is a perfect example of this. You must drive to a tight landing area to the left of a large lake. Your approach shot must be precise and land on the proper section of the green, all the while avoiding the lake and the deep bunker fronting the green. The number 6 par 3 is a good-looking hole, downhill over a lake. But again, stay out of the bunker guarding the right side.

    Number 13 has a long lake protecting the right side of the fairway with a huge, steep bunker guarding the left side – this is a tight driving hole.

    Since you are a true golfer, you’ll definitely want to take the time to see the outstanding PGA Museum of Golf, free and open to the public. The onsite museum is packed with memorabilia and items that show the early days of golf and the beginning of the PGA.

    Here, you'll see the actual Wanamaker Trophy, Donald Ross’ workbench from the 1900s and the l putter used by young Tom Morris, Jr. to win the British Open multiple times. There is also a large library with over 6,000 hardcover books and 3,000 handbooks and yearbooks for your reading pleasure. Periodically, the Museum will host Speaker Series events featuring free to the public "fireside chats" with members of the onsite PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame and other legends of the game.

    The next stop is the Center for Golf Learning and Performance, a 35-acre teaching and practice area that will allow you to hone your game. It is designed to emulate every imaginable shot in the game. The center offers a huge range area with more than 100 full swing practice stations and is ranked among the best practice facilities in the world. Under the shade of a huge cover, I enjoyed hitting balls so much that I got carried away and beat more balls than I should have as I searched for the perfect swing (I didn’t find it, but I’m still looking).

    Then there are the multiple practice bunkers that simulate play worldwide, including a grass bunker and others with several types of sand ranging from soft silica, to a dark colored clay mix, to more of a packed variety. You’ll have no excuse next time you land in a trap.

    There are also different areas to hone your chipping and pitching skills, as well as a 7,000-square-foot, USGA regulation putting green.

    Inside the Center for Golf Learning and Performance you will find some of the latest and greatest high tech golf equipment and instruction aids on the market, such as the 100-foot ForeGolf Simulator, which offers more than 100 courses to sample worldwide.

    Directly across the street, a mere pitch shot away, is a great place to stay – the Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village. After a long day of playing golf or practicing until you have finally mastered the fine technique of a 330-yard drive, you may find that a great meal is in order. Located right in the Hilton Garden Inn is Sam Snead’s Tavern with plenty of superb items on the menu to replenish your strength. Take a walk around the restaurant while they are preparing your meal and peruse all of Sam’s memorabilia that is on display.

    After you have gained back your strength you have no reason not to walk back across the road and spend a few more hours perfecting your short game. After all, you do want to shoot under par right?

    Honored by the readers of Indian River Magazine for offering the “Best Golf on the Treasure Coast,” PGA Village is a must-see for any golf enthusiast.

    PGA Village is located off of I-95 Exit #121 in Port St. Lucie. Call (800) 800-GOLF or for more information.