The PGA National Resort & Spa contracted with Nicklaus Design in 2018 to renovate the Champion course. Working along side PGA National’s Director of Agronomy, Brad Nelson, Nicklaus Senior Design Associate Chris Cochran, ASGCA, over saw a number of changes including the removal of the low lying palmetto bushes on the right side of the opening par 4 hole and left side of the ninth, also a par 4. The plant removal will improve spectator flow during the Honda Classic, which was won by Justin Thomas in 2018. Jack redesigned the course in 2002 which was originally done by George and Tom Fazio, and then again in 2014. The golf course was the home of the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship and two decades of the Senior PGA Championship
The Champion layout is a real bear of a course at 7,140 yards with a rating/slope of 75.2/148. Green complexes have been rebuilt, shaped and grassed with TifEagle Bermuda. Over 14,000 square feet of putting surface has been recaptured, averaging 800 square feet per green returning the greens to Jack’s original design that were implemented 17 years ago. Chris Cochran said, “We took the advice of the best players in the game and made one of the great layouts in the USA even stronger.” I had the opportunity to play the Champion prior to the Honda and was thoroughly impressed with the condition of the course and larger and speedy greens.
The Honda Classic is the beginning of the “Florida Swing” played at the beautiful PGA National Golf Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, which sets near the homes of many of the elite PGA TOUR Professionals. The field is always one of the best simply because they can spend their evenings at home in their own beds, which is not the case during the season. The Champion is one of five championship golf courses at PGA National and home to the ‘Bear Trap,’ a group of three challenging holes considered by many as the toughest stretch on tour. As Jack has said, “The ‘Bear Trap’ is where the tournament can be won or lost.”
The Charities funded by the Honda Classic are located in Palm Beach County with the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation as one of the main recipients.
PGA National Resort & Spa is South Florida’s world-class golf, vacation, meetings and spa destination, with four other premier courses; The Palmer, The Fazio, The Squire(named after Gene Sarazen) and The Estates. In addition PGA National offers the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and David Pelz Scoring Game School for individual instruction and group clinics. Every Ball Counts is the world’s first science-based and statistical-date driven golf training center and is located at the Estates Course near PGA National.
For more information visit PGAResort.com.