Abacoa Golf Club – Jupiter, Florida Guru's Rating: 6.9
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $99
18 holes and a spring training baseball game: the perfect day (particularly if you live in New York and “wintry mix” has become an all-too-common phrase in your conversations) . If you play those 18 at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, you can even walk to the ball field when you finish your round. Just how close is Abacoa to Roger Dean Stadium, February and March home of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals? We were confident that a solid drive with a little “helping” wind could have nailed one of Roger Dean’s giant light towers (some of which you can clearly see from various points on the golf course). Abacoa staff told us that ballplayers frequently play there: recent sightings include Cards skipper Tony LaRussa and Marlins pitcher Chris Volstead.
Sticking with the baseball theme, Abacoa is a ground rule double: you expect a lot at first, but end up only semi-satisfied. The main reason for this lack of fulfillment is the price. For $99 a round (during peak season), you hope for some type of unique experience. And while Abacoa is well-maintained, attractive in some spots, and a decent challenge (particularly with the nasty wind conditions which often prevail), there is really nothing that separates it from your average South Florida golf course. For a nearly triple-figure price tag, there really should be. What you’re paying for here is location, which, in fairness, you can’t beat if you’re staying in Jupiter or the Palm Beach area. We teed off at 8:30AM and missed just half an inning of the 1PM first pitch Mets-Marlins contest.
In addition to the great location, Abacoa has some nice amenities. The carts are modern and equipped with comprehensive GPS units, there’s a solid range on the way to hole #1 (although range balls are not free), and a good halfway house (manned by an incredibly friendly lady who stuffed us with just out-of-the-oven homemade chocolate chip cookies). The fairways and greens are in great shape and definitely a bit slick. Wide-open fairways lessen the challenge a bit, but are quite welcome if you’re erratic with your driver. There are a few holes with slightly rolling and sloped hills and a couple of (slight) elevation changes. Generally though, this is a pretty standard Florida track.
The bottom line: you could certainly do a lot worse than a round at Abacoa – and it is incredibly convenient because of its location. But a hefty price tag and a lack of personality earn it a solid but unspectacular rating.
Most Interesting Hole: #7 is a 423 yard dogleg par 4, with a giant oak tree planted on the right side of the fairway, about 100 yards from the green. If you don’t hit your drive in the proper spot, you’ll have to go over or around that tree on your approach.
Most Challenging Hole: The sixth hole is considered Abacoa’s number 1 handicap, but while it’s long (587 from the tips), it’s nearly dead straight and not overly impressive to me. I found #2 and #10 (which had similar layouts) to be much more difficult. Both are par 5’s that dare you to go over giant bodies of water to reach the green in two (accompanied by swirling wind).
Guru’s Tip: As is common with many courses, you may encounter some stray range balls on the first and last holes and have some trouble finding your own errant shot. Since we aren’t very good, this factored in on our drives on the first hole, and approach shots on 18.