Duffer Dan and the Undercover Gang at Wanamaker Course
In January I was invited to Port St. Lucie to play the two Tom Fazio reworks at the PGA Golf Club along with other media types and members of the PGA. So the Gang had to stay home. It ’s really good to be the Duffer. In 1996 the facility opened with 2 courses, the North and South. Last year the Fazio Design Group came in and replaced all the putting surfaces with Champion Ultra Dwarf, refurbished the bunkers, enhanced the drainage to improve the overall playing experience, and added new landscaping. The Professional Golfers ’ Association of America decided to rename the courses Ryder and Wanamaker, after two gentlemen who were instrumental to golf ’s early growth. The PGA Golf Club is home to the pros, but always open for public play.
Rodman Wanamaker, an avid sportsman and Silver Medalist in the Olympics, was the son of John Wanamaker, the founder of a chain of department stores headquartered in Philadelphia. In 1916 Rodman sparked the founding of the PGA of America and donated the trophy for the inaugural United States PGA Championship. The Wanamaker Trophy continues to be the coveted prize for the winner of the fourth and last major championship every year. Now you know the rest of the story.
The Wanamaker course is 7102 yards from the tips, a par 72 with 5 sets of tees for all levels of play. The course has generous landing areas and no forced carries. It is a great golf experience both from the playing aspect, and service from the excellent staff at the PGA Club. I cannot tell you how many times the player assistant stopped by to ensure everything was all right. The first hole is a par 5 that everyone reached in regulation. It seemed that not reading the greens properly was our downfall. Bogies all around. The #1 handicap hole on the Wanamaker is the par 4, 2nd, which requires a good drive down the right side, allowing the ball to feed to the left. The green is elevated and deceptive. Make sure to hit one extra club and that your yardage is correct. The hole I remember the most from playing the front is the par 3, 6th. You hit from an elevated tee to a green that slopes right to left and guarded on the left by water. The Duffer chose to bail out to the right and chip down to the pin while my playing partners thought the prevailing wind would draw the ball back to the green. Splish-Splash! Not only is it a beautiful golf hole but also a beautiful thing when you can record a 3 while everyone else is using both hands to count their strokes. The last three holes (a par 5 and 2 par 4s) will test your mettle and shot making if you want to score well.
Besides having cart ladies on the course visiting on a regular basis, The Golf Club has the 61st Hole Grill, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There isalso a halfway house for those who want to rush to the 10th tee and just catch a quick snack. The Pro Shop is well stocked and there are ample facilities throughout the courses and Clubhouse. The Grill is spacious and has a full bar to satisfy any duffer ’s delight. There is also a meeting room that seats 150, where one year our golf group had a party. The back nine starts out with an easy par 4, but don’t be long or right on your approach shot. We had trouble again trying to read the greens more than getting to them. Good scores on holes 13, 14 and 15 came easy, but then the par 5, 16th took the wind out of my sails, or shall I say the wind had a lot to do with my ‘snowman’. Hug the right side of the fairway to stay away from the bunkers left. Needless to say I wasn ’t were I should have been. The best hole on the Wanamaker is the finishing hole, and not because we are close to the Grill. This is truly a great hole and a sight to see. Play your drive to the left center of the fairway. I laid up down the fairway on my second shot because I didn ’t have the guts to cross the lake, but a deft touch with my 7 iron brought me close enough to the pin to make par. I love # 18.
To find out more go to www.PGAVILLAGE.com or call 1-800-800-GOLF for your PGA Experience.