PORT SAINT LUCIE, Fla. -- Take a left on Perfect Drive. Then imagine following a perfect drive, striped about 250 yards, and you will have arrived at PGA Golf Club, the PGA of America's flagship property.
The PGA of America owns and operates this venue on Florida's Treasure Coast and has created a world-class, year-round golfer's playground. Having been ranked among America's best golf resorts, its reputation comes from its three championship courses and is bolstered by its 35-acre, award-winning practice facilities, and its PGA Museum of Golf.
The triumvirate of layouts by renowned architects Tom Fazio and Pete Dye guarantees 54 holes of challenge and entertainment.
Roaming through 430 acres of wildlife sanctuary, all three, having earned Audubon International Signature Status and numerous honors, offer five sets of tees plus junior tees and, thus, cater to individuals of all ability and distance levels.
In addition, the courses have been awarded the "Rolling Out the Green Carpet" certification from the National Women's Golf Alliance as facilities that welcome and are attractive to women. The touchscreen GPS system on the carts also adds to the courses' playability.
Fazio designed both the Wanamaker and Ryder in 1999, but the twins are definitely fraternal and reveal different personalities. The former honors Rodman Wanamaker, who helped establish the PGA of America, funded the first PGA Championship in 1916 and had his name attached to the champion's trophy. The latter honors Samuel Ryder, the namesake and founder of the Ryder Cup matches, which began in 1927. All 36 tees have plaques that unveil the storied lore of both the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course
When you tee it up on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club, you enjoy a classic Florida layout, but bring your best iron game and a hot putter. The fairways are generous and forgiving; the TifEagle greens are absolutely immense.
Wayward tee shots are still in play, but three putts occur frequently if approach shots are not dialed in. The surrounding lagoons, wetlands, cavernous bunkers, palm trees, and palmettos are lovely to observe but injurious to good scores if visited frequently.
PGA Golf Club's Ryder Course
Fazio transports you to a North Carolina feel on the Ryder Course with his holes winding among majestic pines, rolling hills and elevation changes, and recurrent red-staked hazards.
The Bermuda 419 fairways -- found on all three courses -- provide flawless lies, and the Champion greens, though smaller and more contoured than the Wanamaker, are equally true and usually Stimp at around 11-12. Both courses have a pleasing mix of left and right doglegs, reachable par 5s and short-to-long par 3s. Resort golf courses don't get much better than these two.
PGA Golf Club's Dye Course
Pete Dye built his eponymous course in 1998, and by highlighting the native environment, especially the wetlands, he fashioned a links-style course reminiscent of the British Isles, like playing in Scotland or Ireland without the airfare.
The Dye Course can be "Dye-abolical" and intimidating with its multiple pot and grass bunkers, vast coquina waste areas, wiry rough, forced carries, and smaller and narrower and more undulating Champion greens -- always faster than the other two. However, as with most of his creations, the final verdict is that the ordeal is really "To Dye For" and demands an encore.
Off-course amenities at PGA Golf Club
The Champions Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the real draw of the restaurant is the wealth of PGA memorabilia and relics that adorn the walls and bar area. More impressive and more structured, of course, is the on-site PGA Museum of Golf. Open to the public at no cost, it traces the history of the PGA of America through its major championship and the Ryder Cup.
The three courses have their own driving range and putting and chipping areas as well as the "Short Course," six holes between 35-60 yards where you can work on your finesse shots. However, the nearby 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance is a golf instruction, practice, technology and fitness park all in one. Named a "2013 Golf Range Association of America Top 50 Range," the center includes more than 100 hitting stations (many weather-protected), short-game practice areas, putting greens, three practice holes and nine separate bunkers that simulate play worldwide.
PGA Golf Club offers a number of stay-and-play packages in conjunction with local hotels and is located just off I-95 at Exit 121, 45 minutes north of Palm Beach and two hours from both Orlando and Miami.