It has been the stronghold of Palm Beach County’s golfing reputation since 1981, a massive resort largely devoted to golf. In 1983, it started hosting the Ryder Cup tournament. This year and $100 million later, PGA National Resort reopened in Palm Beach Gardens after a major renovation that evokes 1950s and 1960s nostalgia with the addition of two Andy Staples-designed golf courses, six new culinary concepts, redesigned Palm Beach- chic (thankfully not Lilly Pulitzer style!) accommodations and a lavishly remastered spa, run 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. This is why.
Note: PGA National Resort organized my visit, but all opinions expressed are my own.
1. I like to watch
Not on TV, mind you, but I love nothing more than looking out the sliding glass door of a luxury resort room onto sprawling greens, or sneaking up on the clubhouse in the morning as the golfers get ready to get on their carts. One morning at the PGA National Resort, we were having breakfast outside overlooking the putting green when, without warning, a duo of bagpipers made their way through the golfers practicing their short game. So even if you don’t like golf, you have to love the tradition. And PGA Resort oozes golfing tradition.
2. I like to listen
I don’t like fishing either, but I’m rarely happier than sitting in a fish bar when the fishermen come in with their whopper stories. The same goes for golfing, and there’s no better place to play après games than the grand and grandiose Lobby Bar overlooking the magical pool complex with its architectural arches overlooking the greens, cheerful umbrellas and cabanas. I sipped a crafty tequila drink, my husbands his perfect old-fashioned, while I admired a stylized sculpture of a banyan tree twinkling with more than 1,500 LED lights above us.
3. It’s for the family too
In addition to the cool pool, PGA Resort has created a new niche for families. The colorful Banyan Buddies Kids Club isn’t all about a fun tongue slide under yet another fanciful version of a banyan tree, but offers all-day programming in a playful jungle setting. Youth classes and camps help them learn golf (at the resort’s golf schools) and tennis (at the 19-court, state-of-the-art Sports and Racquet Club) young. Add in an ice cream parlor and the Sugarplume chocolate boutique, and you’ve effectively sweetened the deal for the kids and grandkids.
4. Ooh, that spa
The spa had just reopened, and wow, what a beauty. A self-contained and eye-catching 40,000-square-foot building, it is the centerpiece of the resort’s new wellness focus. After a spin in the mineral pools and a Lomi lomi-inspired massage, feeling good was an understatement. On the horizon, the spa’s outdoor pool complex with a café selling noshes, cold-pressed juices, healthy mocktails and wine will offer its own oasis.
Editor’s Note: A spa sounds nice, doesn’t it? Our very own Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey recommends these luxurious spa treatments from around the world.
5. Dine there (or on the go)
Famous Chef Jeremy Ford — top chef Season 13 winner and Chef of Miami’s acclaimed Stubborn Seed — at the helm of PGA Resort’s flagship restaurant. The Butcher’s Club feels like a 1950s throwback to steakhouse chic. Black marble, dark wood, gold accents, and stylish golf memorabilia give it a privileged, club-like (and yes, expensive) ambiance.
More chops in the food department: Multiple James Beard Award nominee and Palm Beach resident Lindsay Autry runs the operation of Honeybelle, an all-day restaurant that opens 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 also returns to retro times with classic dining booths, a soda fountain and sweet treats from Nutella French toast to classic milkshakes (with or without alcohol). Coffee and ice cream parlors offer other casual options, and the resort is minutes from an array of premium restaurants along PGA Boulevard.
Pro tip: For off-site dining, I recommend the famous and laid-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 eaten in months. Wherever you decide to dine in the area, make reservations as early as possible – especially on weekends.
6. The history, the legends
While the PGA Resort remake, which debuted in February 2022, aims to increase the resort’s appeal beyond golf, the game still clearly defines it with two on-site golf academies and acres of greens. The two new courses continue the resort’s long history of great golf, while also changing the course of golfing history.
The courses designed by Andy Staples 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-hole course – par 3 and walking alone. They bring the resort’s total to six courses – 99 holes in all – joining the 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 began with the Ryder Cup in 1983. Since 2007, it has hosted the widely watched Honda Classic every February.
7. The Neighborhood
Located in northern Palm Beach County, the luxurious Palm Beach Gardens is convenient to all that the famed county has to offer—from the platinum beaches of Palm Beach Island to the rugged Everglades wilderness of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. From the charming downtown Delray Beach to the allure of other natural attractions and communities known for shopping and dining.
And just in case you didn’t realize you’re staying at the epicenter of golfing in Florida, check out the street signs around PGA Resort: Jack Nicklaus Drive, Masters Way, Donald Ross Road, PGA Boulevard, and Avenue of the Champions.
Pro tip: Attractions within half an hour’s drive of PGA National Resort include the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and Juno Beach Pier, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum and The Nature Conservancy Blowing Rocks Preserve in Hobe Sound.
Do you like mixing golf and luxury? Check out these luxury spa and golf resorts to experience around the world†