Frugal Golfer: Palm Beach, Florida

By Craig Dolch

Finding a place to play quality golf in Palm Beach County is easier than a tap-in. With more than 160 golf courses, there’s a reason it’s known as the “Golf Capital of the World.” But finding good public Palm Beach golf without spending plenty during the prime winter season can be trickier than a fried-egg in a bunker.

Having lived in the county for more than 30 years, I’ve learned to look at the not-so-obvious places. While PGA Boulevard remains the epicenter of all things golf—the Honda Classic at PGA National has become one of the PGA Tour’s more popular stops—my advice is to head southeast and concentrate your activity around Lake Worth.

Rates are highest during the winter months, when there is less daylight and more snowbirds and tourists. The best deals are in the summer, when the heat and usual afternoon rain bring out the hardiest of golfers. I’ve always enjoyed the shoulder seasons—October to December, April to early June—when the weather is still enjoyable and the tee sheet not so filled. At most of the courses that follow, you won’t pay more than $50 for any round, with afternoon deals that can cut that fee in half.

Where To Play 

• Two of my favorite courses are within three Bubba Watson drives of each other. Palm Beach Par 3 is not your typical short course, not with six holes on the Atlantic Ocean and six more on the Intracoastal Waterway. You can use almost every club in your bag on this course. The Al Fresco restaurant in the new clubhouse overlooks the water.

• Across the Intracoastal, Lake Worth Golf Club also offers amazing views. The par-70 course has some stout par fours and several solid par threes on a 6,184-yard layout that plays longer than it looks. But its best hole may be the 19th: The Beach Club has one of the best Happy Hours in the area, with a host of $5 tasty appetizers and discounted drinks.

• The remodeled West Palm Beach Golf Course is a Dick Wilson-designed test, made over by Mark McCumber in 2009, that was once rated among the nation’s top public tracks. Rare for Florida, it has no water hazards, but there are plenty of bunkers and waste areas. The PGA Tour used to hold sanctioned events here in the 1950s and early 1960s. 

• A little farther south, Delray Beach Golf Club is a Donald Ross-designed gem that many of the LPGA Tour pros who used to live in the area practiced on to get ready for the new season. It has been around for almost a century—it opened in 1926—and has that classic Ross feel (i.e., you usually need to keep the ball below the hole).

• The most affordable option is Lone Pine Golf Club, a par-62 executive course on N. Military Trail in northern West Palm Beach. It has a sizable practice area and range, and don’t be fooled by the par. The course allows you to swing the driver.

• When you want to splurge, PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens is the place. In addition to the Jack Nicklaus-designed, Tour-hosting Champion Course, there are three other top layouts on property, and another one nearby. This must-play destination is perfect for buddy trips.

Where To Eat

• Among the favorite eateries on PGA Boulevard are Mexican-themed Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, Spotos Oyster Bar, and Saito’s Japanese Steakhouse. There’s a good chance you will see a famous golfer or two dining alongside.

• Also check out Tiger Woods’s new restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, situated at the northeast tip of the county at Harbourside Place. Not cheap, but worth a look.

Where To Stay

• PGA Boulevard is lined with every chain hotel imaginable. But for something different and a little away from the scene, Sabal Palm House, across the street from Lake Worth Golf Club, is a bed-and-breakfast that offers affordable suites and includes breakfast and afternoon tea.

Frugal Palm Beach Par 3

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