The Champion Course at the PGA National Resort & Spa has reopened for play following a major regressing and the renovation of the fourteenth hole.
Redesigned by Jack Nicklaus’ firm in 1990 and home of the famous ‘Bear Trap’, Nicklaus’ firm returned to the PGA National to carry out the latest work, and moved the green on the fourteenth hole – which leads into the Bear Trap – 17 yards to the right, bringing water into play on the approach shot. The tee was moved back ten yards, with bunkers also built in front and behind the green.
“It seemed a shame not to have the water nearer to the green,” said Nicklaus. “It produces a little more freedom and it produces a very strong par four going into the Bear Trap. I honestly believe it will be more exciting, but I don’t think it will be any more difficult.”
Located in Palm Beach Gardens in the US state of Florida, the course hosted 1983 Ryder Cup, 1987 PGA Championship, and is home to the annual Honda Classic tournament.
Other work included the introduction of Celebration bermudagrass on the Champion Course’s fairways, green surrounds and tees. The course will no longer require over-seeding during the off-season, creating faster and firm conditions for golfers.
“The Celebration bermuda will provide us with major-like conditions,” said Lukus Harvey, PGA National Resort & Spa’s director of Agronomy. “The Honda Classic field is perennially on par with golf’s four majors, and now we have the turf to provide similar conditions. Our resort guests and club members will love it because it provides a better year-around product, including upgraded irrigation. The grass is so dense you won’t get a bad lie.”
Four of the course’s greens – those on holes 1, 9, 15 and 17 – have also been expanded to their original size.