Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club – Port St. Lucie, Florida Guru's Rating: 9.0
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (w/cart): $149
Plug PGA Village in St. Lucie into your GPS and you’ll see the following for the address: “1916 Perfect Drive.” History lesson: the PGA of America was formed in 1916 and a perfect drive is well…a glorious thought. To break it down, you are headed – quite literally – to a golf mecca.
With 54 holes of outstanding golf, a sprawling practice area, stocked pro shop, buzzing restaurant – plus hip music at the bag drop and an incredibly helpful staff at the ready to welcome you to the property – PGA Village is a Big League facility. Yes, it’s a bit of a shlep to St. Lucie from most of South Florida, but if you’re a golf nut and happen to be within 45 minutes of this place I have two words for you: get here. I’d even go so far as to say you can plan a weekend buddies trip to PGA Village and be more than satisfied with the delicious golf experience.
The Wanamaker Course is one of two Tom Fazio designs on the property and does its namesake – PGA founder Rodman Wanamaker proud. Roddy (I’m guessing this is what his buddies in the 1910s called him so I’m taking the liberty) and his legacy are honored throughout the clubhouse – his eponymous trophy (for the winner of the PGA Championship each year) is even on display in the front hall to fire you up.
Fazio takes full advantage of the property’s natural beauty on the Wanamaker, carving out a course that brings water, sand, and trees into play on nearly every hole. The gorgeous, picturesque layout is not absurdly long (6610 from the recommended “Tournament” tees) but strong Florida winds have a tendency to pull or push you into the danger zones and make various holes more stout. Generally though, this is not a typical Florida “spray it anywhere with your drive and you’ll still make par” course. Precision is of utmost importance, particularly as you aim at hard, deceiving greens. Miss spots and you’re in trouble.
Conditions when we played during peak season (March) were excellent – as was the on-course service. State of the art GPS video monitors adorn all carts, complete with animated flyovers for each hole. Beverage carts were plentiful – and pace of play was steady.
Guru’s Tip: The biggest complaint about PGA Village is the price – $149 for a round (which includes range balls). On-line specials can get that rate down quite a bit – almost $50 off in some cases. PGA Village has ample lodging (nearby hotels plus villas that you can rent on the property) and does offer golf packages for those who want to make a few days out of it. St. Lucie obviously can’t compete with Scottsdale, Pebble, or Pinehurst in the pantheon of golf trips, but consider it a simpler, more laid back alternative. Roddy would tell you it’s worth it a shot.