Played by NCG: PGA NationalFebruary 27, 2019 Courses and Travel
The PGA Tour's finest descend on Palm Beach Gardens each year for the Honda Classic, so we sent Jamie Perkins to see how he fared on the infamous Bear Trap
Reason for a PGA National review
I was in Orlando attending the PGA Show with the National Club Golfer team and I was offered the chance to play PGA National. Taking on the Bear Trap has always been on the bucket list.
Where is PGA National?
The home of the Professional Golfers Association of America is located at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
What to expect
it certainly didn’t disappoint
A perfectly manicured Floridian-style course that is easy on the eye, while being a challenging but fair test of your game.
From the moment we arrived at the Champion Course I knew we were in for a great day . We decided to play off the gold tees – the tips were closed in preparation for the Honda Classic – but at 6,727 yards with a stiff breeze we were all in for a fun challenge.
I had never played golf in America before and soon found out that hitting the fairway was a high priority as the rough was extremely sticky and at times you could only advance your ball by a hundred yards.
My game has always been built on being able to drive the ball well and I found this really helped when playing the Champion Course as every fairway bunker was perfectly placed, water was in the right area, and the rough was always something to avoid. Each hole had a different challenge whether it was having to get a good long drive out there or having to hit a precise approach into one of the large undulating greens.
A lot of the pre-round build up was about negotiating the Bear Trap which turns out, does require your full attention – something I found out the hard way. These three holes really need a string of consecutive solid shots to get through unscathed, something I wasn’t up to on the day but next time I’ll be more prepared.
But it’s hard to be disappointed here. It was one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf I’ve ever played.
At 412 yards off the gold tee the par-4 16th (above) isn’t too long, but we were playing it into a strong wind.
With water all the way down the right and bunkers guarding more of the fairway, hitting the short grass was a must. To make matters worse, the further you went down the tighter it got so you really had to commit to your tee shot.
I managed to find the fairway and once I got to my ball I took a moment to take in the view of what awaited me for my approach shot.
A grandstand had been built behind the green in preparation for the Honda Classic which framed the green perfectly. There is water short of a large two-tiered green so finding the right spot was a high priority.
Although challenging the shape and design of the hole was perfect and one I’d never tire of playing.
The 11th also deserves a special mention, a difficult par 4 with trouble everywhere but again a fun challenge.
My best bit
The special mention for the 11th was really just a segue into me boasting about my birdie there.
The course notes say this hole is usually one of the hardest during the Honda Classic, so I took a great deal of satisfaction walking off the green with a three.
What to look out for
Perfectly placed bunkers, large water hazards, and the purest of greens. The course tested every part of my game with its variety of holes which kept me on my toes fro the entire round. It is certainly one of my favourite courses I have played.
Try not get sucked into the bunker that sits on the left of the 16th green as the shot that faces you from there isn’t pretty and will really test your nerve.
Subtle dips and hollows in the greens was another prominent feature of the course so hitting the right areas of the greens is a priority.
Also don’t miss out on the deep-filled turkey sandwiches.
When I go back
If I head to the PGA Show in 2020, I will definitely be making another trip to PGA National. I hope to be a bit sharper round the greens as they caught me out too many times.
For more information visit the PGA National website.