It has stood as the bulwark of Palm Beach County’s golfing reputation since 1981, a mammoth resort devoted largely to golf. In 1983, it began hosting the Ryder Cup tournament. This year and $100 million later, PGA National Resort reopened in Palm Beach Gardens after a massive renovation that stirs up the nostalgia of the 1950s and 1960s with the addition of two Andy Staples–designed courses, six new culinary concepts, redesigned Palm Beach–chic (blessedly not Lilly Pulitzer style!) accommodations, and an opulent remastered spa, led by none other than tennis star Venus Williams.
It’s true, I don’t golf, but I just spent the best weekend at PGA National Resort. Here’s why.
Note: PGA National Resort hosted my visit, but all opinions expressed are my own.
1. I Like To Watch
Not on TV, mind you, but I love nothing better than looking out the sliding glass door of a luxe resort room onto a spread of greens, or stalking the clubhouse in the morning as the golfers make ready to scoot out on their carts. One morning at PGA National Resort, we were having breakfast alfresco overlooking the putting green when, without forewarning, a duo of bagpipe players blew their way through the golfers practicing their short game. So even if you don’t enjoy playing golf, you’ve got to love the tradition. And PGA Resort oozes golfing tradition.
2. I Like To Listen
I don’t like to fish, either, but I am rarely happier than when sitting in a fishing bar as the anglers come in with their whopper stories. Same goes for golfing, and there’s no better place to hang out après-games than the grand and grandiose Lobby Bar overlooking the magical pool complex with its architectural arches framing views of the greens, jaunty umbrellas, and cabanas. I sipped a crafty tequila drink, my husband his perfect old-fashioned, while admiring a stylized sculpture of a banyan tree twinkling with more than 1,500 LED lights above us.
3. It’s For the Family, Too
Besides the cool pool, PGA Resort has carved out a new niche for families. Its colorful Banyan Buddies Kids Club not only centers around a fun barrel slide under yet another fanciful version of a banyan tree, it offers programming throughout the day in a playful jungle setting. Youth lessons and camps start ‘em young on learning the games of golf (at the resort’s golf schools) and tennis (at the 19-court, state-of-the-art Sports and Racquet Club). Add an ice cream shop and the Sugarplume boutique for chocolates, and you’ve effectively sweetened the deal for the kids and grandkids.
4. Ooh, That Spa
The spa had just reopened, and wow, what sheer magnificence. A 40,000-square-foot stand-alone and standout building, it is the centerpiece of the resort’s new wellness focus. After a spin around the mineral pools and a Lomi lomi–inspired massage, feeling well was an understatement. On the horizon, the spa’s outdoor pool complex with a cafe selling noshes, cold-pressed juices, healthy mocktails, and wine will provide its own oasis.
Editor’s Note: A spa sounds nice, doesn’t it? Our own Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey recommends these luxurious spa treatments from around the globe.
5. Dining There (Or Out And About)
Celebrity chef Jeremy Ford — Top Chef season 13 winner and executive chef of Miami’s acclaimed Stubborn Seed — helms the flagship restaurant at PGA Resort. The Butcher’s Club feels like a 1950s throwback to steakhouse chic. Black marble, dark wood, gold accents, and classy golf memorabilia give it a privileged, clubby (and yes, pricey) ambiance.
More chops in the dining department: multiple James Beard Award nominee and Palm Beach resident Lindsay Autry leads the operation of Honeybelle, an all-day restaurant that spills out onto a patio adjacent to the pool complex.
And that breakfast terrace where bagpipers serenaded us? We loved Birdie’s Diner for more reasons than that! Like The Butcher’s Club, it too reverts to retro times with classic diner booths, a soda fountain, and sweet yumminess from its Nutella French toast to its classic milkshakes (with or without alcohol). Coffee and ice cream shops offer other casual options, plus the resort lies minutes from a string of top-notch restaurants along PGA Boulevard.
Pro Tip: For off-site dining, I recommend the famed and kick-back Dune Dog Cafe in nearby Jupiter and the lively outdoor bar and more formal dining of Spoto’s Oyster Bar — the best seafood we’ve relished in months. Wherever you decide to eat dinner in the area, make reservations as early as possible — especially on weekends.
6. The History, The Legends
Although the PGA Resort remake, which debuted in February 2022, aims at widening the resort’s appeal beyond golf, the game still clearly defines it with two on-site golfing academies and acres of greens. The two new courses continue the resort’s long history of stellar golf while at the same time changing the course of golfing history.
The Andy Staples–designed courses bend the rules a bit. The Match is a revolutionary no-par course with flexible tee boxes, while The Staple is a rolling, challenging nine-holer — par 3 and walking-only. They bring the resort’s total to six courses — 99 holes in all — joining legendary courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, and Jack Nicklaus. The latter originally designed the Champion course, home to the Bear Trap, possibly the most infamous trio of holes in the world. Here, PGA Resort continues the tradition of hosting major golf tournaments that started with the Ryder Cup in 1983. Since 2007, it has hosted the widely watched Honda Classic each February.
7. The Neighborhood
Situated in north Palm Beach County, upscale Palm Beach Gardens is convenient to all the famed county has to offer — from the platinum beaches of Palm Beach island to the raw Everglades wilderness of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. From charming downtown Delray Beach to the allure of other natural attractions and communities known for their shopping and dining.
And just in case you didn’t realize you are staying in the epicenter of Florida golfing, read the street signs around PGA Resort: Jack Nicklaus Drive, Masters Way, Donald Ross Road, PGA Boulevard, and Avenue of the Champions.
Pro Tip: Don’t-miss attractions within a half-hour drive of PGA National Resort include Juno Beach’s Loggerhead Marinelife Center and its pier, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, and The Nature Conservancy Blowing Rocks Preserve in Hobe Sound.
Love mixing golf and luxury? Check out these luxurious spa and golf resorts to experience around the world.