Panther National Golf Club: Ambition and Tradition
When Panther National Golf Club opens in November on approximately 430 acres of land in the western reaches of trendy Palm Beach Gardens, FL, it will signal the debut of one more ambitious golf course community project in the history of South Florida. The community, whose centerpiece is a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Justin Thomas in collaboration with Nicklaus Design Senior Designer Chris Cochrane, is touted as sitting on the final piece of developable real estate in “The Gardens.’’
But that’s only the beginning of the Panther National story. For example, the course itself sits on approximately 118 acres on an island of sorts inside the community – clear of any of the houses on the 218 lots; Its spar-3 course includes an island green similar to the famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass and has a “cross country’’ design; created on the sprawling canvas of an old cattle ranch, the course is resplendent with waste areas, high sand dunes, elevated tee boxes, and risk-reward holes.
On many holes, the Nicklaus/Thomas team allows players to use the ground to run the ball to the green.
”Very much not like Nicklaus,’’ said Panther National Director of Golf Tom Dyer. “But it was ownership’s wish to have a links-style course in South Florida.’’
More than 2.5 million cubic yards of dirt were moved to create that ‘links-style,’’ which includes a double green on the eighth and 17 holes and a Troon-esque postage stamp green on the third hole.
One of the more interesting holes at Panther National promises to be 11th, a par-5 that could play a play as long as 660 yards. Thomas played a big role in the design of the hole, which starts on a hill and goes across a lake and back up to the green. A solid drive off a bern, Dyer said, can sling the ball down the slope more than 400 yards (think the 18th hole on the Kapalua Plantation course), where a player has a chance to reach the green in two shots.
“The course plays 7,860 yards (par 72) from all the way back,’’ Dyer said. “It could play as long as 8,000 yards. We plan for the members’ tee to be at 6,200 and change. There will be seven sets of tees. I can actually change the pars on some holes if I want… make a par four into a par five or a par five into a par four. The tee boxes are high and give your beautiful vistas of the holes. And as you go down into the valleys, you’re going to feel as if you are the only person on the course.’’
Chances are good, however, that a player won’t be alone at Panther National. In fact, it won’t be unusual to see PGA Tour players such as Thomas (a partner), Max Homa, Webb Simpson, and Russell Henley at Panther National because property developer Dominik Senn is the founder and president of 4Sports & Entertainment, the management agency that represents Homa, Simpson, Henley, among other golfers.
With that in mind, Panther National’s practice area is expected to be among the best in the country. The area, Dyer said, will include a 27-yard, U.S. Open-style fairway going up the center of the range. Waste areas and palm trees will define the fairway on each side. Target greens will sport TifEagle grass (the same as the course) and be precisely sized for distance, meaning they will be PGA Tour “average’’ for their distance.
“For serious golfers, the practice facility is like the bar,’’ Dyer said. “It’s that important. It really just depends on whom you are catering to.
“We’re going to be traditional, in a golf sense, with a modern flair. You can play golf with your shirt out… you can hit balls in your gym clothes, but we have this unbelievable golf course and very traditional practice facility.’’
For more information, visit panthernational.com