Monday, March 2, 2009

PGA National's Bear Trap

This post was originally published at, April 2, 2008. Recipient of the Editor's Choice Award.

The Toughest Three-Hole Stretch on Tour

PGA National Resort & Spa, in Palm Beach Garden’s, Florida, is home to the PGA Tour’s first Florida Swing tournament, The Honda Classic, held in March. At the 2008 Classic, the three-holes that comprise what has become known as the Bear Trap, the 15th, 16th and 17th on The Champion Course, netted the professional field an amazing 356 over par, 102 strokes more than the previous year.

Unlike most of his competitors, South African Ernie Els was able negotiate the Bear Trap and escape the week even par through the three holes. In contrast, though fan favorite Boo Weekley had a respectable finish, the Bear Trap left a five-over-par mark on him by week’s end.

The difficulty level of the Trap is due to two separate rounds of renovations to The Champ course in as many years. According to PGA National’s managing director, Joel Paige, "We are thrilled with the extensive renovations by Nicklaus Design and Superior Golf Concepts," said Paige. "The combined scores from holes 15, 16 and 17 have shown that our "Bear Trap" offers professional golfers the toughest three-hole stretch anywhere in the world." It also proves that Jack Nicklaus, as designer, is continuing to leave an indelible mark on golf, much like he did as a player.

Improvements to The Champion Course were part of an extensive, multi-million dollar resort-wide makeover that included a new resort front entrance, lobby bar, steak and seafood grille, free-form zero-entry pool and waterside bar and grill. The Champ Course’s re-shaped and expanded bunkers has drawn significant attention from players and spectators who commented on the course’s demand for a focused game. It isn’t simply a bomber’s course, as the Bear Trap’s par-three, par-four, par-three stretch has proven.

The Champions Course isn’t simply for the pros or a select few members. Anyone can play the course and be caught by the Bear Trap. The South Florida location of PGA National, as well as the other activities and amenities offered by the resort, make it a great vacation spot for golfers and non-golfers. Its 339 guest rooms, restaurants, five golf courses, European Spa health club, and other activities make it a world-class resort destination. Golf is only the beginning.

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