Formerly The West Palm Beach (Fla.) Country Club, the course closed in 2018 but has been brought back to life. The new facility will feature an 18-hole golf course designed by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Park co-founder Dirk Ziff. In addition, there will be a lighted 9-hole par three course; an 18-hole putting course; a two-acre kids-only golf area; and a lighted two-sided driving range with a state-of-the-art practice facility featuring Toptracer technology.
The Park, West Palm Beach’s newest public golf course, will open on the week of April 17 with a philosophy of “Open Golf” for all ages and experience levels. A product of an unprecedented public/private partnership, built entirely with charitable donations from private individuals, on rolling, sandy city land, The Park had been the site of the city golf course, The West Palm Beach Country Club, since 1947.
The new facility will feature an 18-hole golf course designed by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Park co-founder Dirk Ziff. In addition, there will be a lighted 9-hole par three course; an 18-hole putting course; a two-acre kids-only golf area; and a lighted two-sided driving range with a state-of-the-art practice facility featuring Toptracer technology and designed pro bono by PGA Tour Coach, Darren May. The facility will also be the new home of the South Florida PGA Section.
“Golf is such an integral and important part of our community but sadly there is a real shortage of public golf facilities in the area,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, and co-founder of The Park. “It has been so gratifying to work side by side with such an amazing group of likeminded donors, local volunteers, and public officials led by Mayor Keith James. To bring this incredible project from idea to reality in just over three short years has truly been a dream come true.”
The mission of The Park will include dedicated youth programs and community outreach such as affordable golf instruction, classrooms for mentoring and after school tutoring, and a two-acre kids only golf area.
“Golf is not only the greatest game in the world but also a remarkable vehicle for impacting and improving lives. From the beginning the goal has been to make The Park into the happiest, most welcoming, most complete, and most inclusive place in all of golf.” Waugh added, “We love the idea of ‘Open Golf.’ We wanted to call it The Park because this is 190 acres owned by the residents and like a park it should be open to all. We have the abiding view that if we can help to make the game look more like the world, then just maybe the world will adopt some of the core values of the game. I speak for everyone involved when I say we cannot wait to throw open the doors to the community and the world and watch the joy and the impact on lives both young and old.”
“When ideas for this site were being considered, I never imagined an outcome like this was possible,” said Mayor Keith James. “This is a tremendous gift to the City of West Palm Beach. People will be astounded when they see the outstanding facility that has been built for the city and its residents; especially the next generation. The process has been smooth, and the progress has been amazing. My staff and I are very proud to have helped bring this project to reality for current and future generations.”
Hanse is one of the most admired golf architects working today.
“When Jim Wagner and I understood that private citizens, including many of our friends, were giving charitable money to build a new course and facility for the public to enjoy, within the city limits of West Palm Beach, we decided right away to donate our normal design fee and jump in with both feet.” Hanse said. “The site is incredible, almost 200 acres of rolling sand and mature trees with 30 feet of elevation change, extremely unusual for South Florida. It’s obvious why it was chosen for a golf course in 1947 when the entire area was undeveloped.
“Jim, Dirk, and I set out to design and build a new course that is wide, strategic, an easy walk, and above all fun to play and appropriately challenging for golfers of all abilities,” he continued. “It was a blast to create, and the reaction to pre-opening play by everyone from PGA Tour players to near-beginners gives us belief that we achieved our goal. Jim and I are honored and thrilled to be co-founders of this wonderful facility.”
Other volunteer co-founders are Tom Frankel, President of Frankel Development, who has closely overseen all aspects of construction and operations from day one; and Retired Goldman Sachs Partner Dan Stanton, who has led the fundraising effort that has amassed $56 million in contributions, all from private citizens. The Park is led by General Manager Brian Conley, who brings years of experience from Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta, a similar mission-driven public facility.
The site is the former location of the West Palm Beach Country Club, a well-regarded Dick Wilson-designed municipal course built in 1947 that hosted PGA Tour events. After an extensive and unsuccessful renovation in 2009, the facility gradually lost customers and was permanently closed in 2018. The fallow site was the subject of much speculation, and many proposals involving for-profit ventures featuring real estate development. In late 2019 a group of citizens hatched the ambitious idea that a charitable effort could preserve the property as a re-imagined facility for all golfers and citizens, and The Park was born.
At the heart of The Park’s mission and culture is The Path, a community initiative dedicated to serving the next generation of leaders, on and off the course, through personal growth, education, and mentorship programming. The Path will focus on academic and athletic development, with creative golf-centric programming. From art classes where students learn to paint the golf course to STEM activities dissecting the mechanics of golf and even financial literacy, college preparation and step-by-step mentorship, The Park has a steadfast commitment to bridging the gap between the love of the sport and dedication to the youth’s growth. The Path’s programming includes the following with more to come:
– Junior Golf Private Instruction, taught by PGA Certified Coaches
– Junior Caddie Program
– Youth Employment Opportunities
– PGA Junior League
– Family Fun Fridays
– SNAG (Starting New at Golf) course
Just a few steps from the course, The House will be a Contemporary American restaurant opening in the fall, led by Director of Food & Beverage, Lee Morris. A chef-inspired menu will feature innovative coastal dishes that will highlight local fish, hand-cut steaks, and a variety of plates for an eclectic culinary journey.
Near the Par 3 course, The Cabana will be an al fresco retreat and halfway house, serving well-priced beverages and on-the-go food. Setting a new tone for golf retail, The Shop will have fashionable athleisure wear, sleek golf shoes with brands such as True and Adidas and swag like branded bucket hats.
The Studio will be a haven for golfers looking to improve their game. Guests can book private instruction with PGA Certified Coaches, utilize a Foresight golf simulator, Trackman launch monitor, Swing Catalyst analysis software, BodiTrak pressure sensing golf mat and more. Plus find the perfect equipment with The Park’s full-service club fitting featuring top-of-the-line brands.
Greens fees will be affordable for West Palm Beach residents, with rates starting at $60 for 18 holes with a City Resident Golf Card purchased at The Park. Florida resident rates will be in line with high end public course fees, and rates for out of state golfers will be comparable to destination public golf facilities.
The Park will emphasize walking and will have a full caddie yard with experienced, professional caddies and a junior caddie program to support The Path’s youth and local school teams. The Park will be open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on a seasonal basis.
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