Golfers are a fortunate bunch. Theirs may be the only sport that allows run of the mill players to compete at the same venues that host the top players in the world. You can tee up the week after Rory or Phil or Graham have played -- maybe a few tee blocks closer to the hole -- and experience the same course played by the best in the world.
One of the best of these opportunities is PGA National Resort and Spa, home of the Honda Classic. If you really want the whole experience, spend some time at PGA National between Feb. 23 and March 1, 2015 -- that's when the Honda Classic is held -- to attend the tournament, play one of the resort's other four courses, and party with the pros at night.
However, if you want a more relaxing opportunity to enjoy the place, any other time of the year is great, as well -- and you will also be able to play "The Champion," the course used for the PGA tournament.
Come ready to suffer a bit, though -- it's rated "the toughest golf course in Florida," including, as it does, the famous "Bear Trap" designed with malice aforethought by Jack Nicklaus.
The four other courses include Arnold's "The Palmer." All five courses were renovated in 2012.
The PGA National Resort prides itself on excellent service, and that extends to the golf complex. If you rent clubs, they are top of the line (the putters are Scotty Camerons; you will be tempted to larceny).
This resort has been ranked number one in Golf Digest's "Best Buddies' Trip Destination" in Florida.
My advice: Play the Champion first, take your punishment, cry in the requisite beer, and then enjoy a higher level of success on the other courses.
The PGA National Resort is great for golf, but there is much more to it than drives and putts. It has just undergone a four-year, $100-million renovation, and it shows. Nowhere was this investment put to better effect than in the spa, featuring the "Waters of the World" mineral pools.
Dining opportunities appear to be everywhere, with cafes and lounges ubiquitous. The top dining attraction is Ironwood Steak & Seafood -- with a superb menu -- while the hippest gathering place is the iBar. It's party central, as golf fans and players rub elbows and compete to place their drink orders.
Accommodations range from guest rooms to presidential suites to club cottages. Prices vary by season. The resort is located about 20 minutes from Palm Beach International Airport.
Most golfers have a bucket list of courses they want to play before they head for that big bunker in the sky. If PGA National Resort is not on your list, some revisions are clearly required.
NEED TO KNOW
For more information, see pgaresort.com.