PGA Golf Club Part 2 - Wanamaker Course PDF Print E-mail



By Jason Bruno

Hazeltine banners were streaming outside the clubhouse at PGA Golf Club

(pictured above) during our visit to review Tom Fazio's Wanamaker course

located in Port St.Lucie, Florida. Part of the PGA of America's flagship

property at PGA Village, the Wanamaker is one of four Championship layouts

at PGA Golf Club. Named for Rodman Wanamaker - who inspired the birth of

the PGA of America in 1916 and the trophy of the PGA Champion each year

that also bears his name), the course routing rolls through a typical Florida

landscape that includes Slash Pines, scrub Palmetto Palms and greens that

have plenty of undulation to challenge scoring.



At PGA Golf Club, replicas of all four major championship trophies greet

you at the entry when you arrive - not a bad first impression. (Pictured

left to right): U.S Open trophy, PGA Wanamaker, Masters and the oldest

prize in professional sports - The Open Championship Claret Jug).






Among the tremendous recent improvements to PGA Golf Club spearheaded

by GM Jimmy Terry is this members terrace and dining area that overlooks

the 18th green of the Wanamaker Course. Certainly not a bad spot to enjoy a

post round meal and beverage. A perfect compliment to the Taplow Pub that

caters to resort guests and public play.







Most recently it was the Dye course that was renovated (see our review of

the Dye in our previous course feature), before that it was the Wanamaker

and now the Ryder course will be closed for its own renovation this summer.

All of these projects have been conducted under the leadership of Master

Superintendent (or as he prefers "Greenskeeper") Dick Gray - pictured above

with THE Ryder Cup which was on display for a few weeks earlier this Spring.

Gray was named named TurfNet Superintendent of the Year and is the subject

of a Q&A done for The Florida Green magazine by Yours Truly (that comes out

on May 12th).





When we visited PGA Village in April, South Florida was in the middle

of a drought, so the courses at PGA Golf Club were playing firm and fast,

almost links like - exactly as we prefer. Therefore, the 520 yd par 5 first

played shorter than usual, a welcoming start to the round on the Wanamaker,

a big tee shot leaves a chance to reach this hole in two.





The 165 yard par 3 sixth plays much tougher than it looks. It's downhill

with the prevailing breeze off the right and helping. The right bunker guards

a bail out away from the hazard, but good luck holding this green if you don't

shape it with left to right spin. As you can see everything slopes left and propels

the golf ball towards the hazard. Note the severe false front that rejects anything

that lands on the front edge. Choose the correct weapon, but tread lightly.






The par 5 seventh plays only 507 yards from the tournament tees. A

generous fairway leaves a decision whether to go for the aggressive

approach or lay up to wedge range. The only place to miss here is short,

everything is likely a big number.






The ninth fairway showed a bit of turf stress from the recent drought,

but the playability was right where you'd want it. Excuse this rant from

a 30 year turf guy: It's time that American golfers learn to appreciate

what they have known across the pond for over a century - green and

lush rarely equals really good playing conditions. Aesthetics should never

be the primary focus, they should always be secondary to sustainability

and maintaining proper firm and fast playing conditions . . .  or as Dick

Gray told me, "Dry and firm turf will always work for golf, wet and soft

never works."







The 362 yard tenth is a bit of a sleeper, a very tight fairway and undulated

green that is well guarded. Use proper course management and don't try to

over power this one, finesse golf is what's needed here.





The fifteenth at 337 yards is one of the more dramatic looking designs on

the Wanamaker, but it plays like an amber traffic light (that's too much caution

for such a WOW golf hole). For me it's Hybrid>>SW or 5 iron>>9 iron because

of the narrow twisty fairway that's situated between trees and water - UNLESS

you do as I do and move up a few tees here to make things a bit more interesting.

I play the middle tees here (287 yards to the center of the green - 271 to the

front pin position). Just pick a target and blast away. Plenty of risk/reward and

what's more fun than taking it on. I drove it into the right greenside bunker,

blasted out and two putted for par, but it was the challenge of the tee shot that

brought a thrill.


The PGA Tour moves the tees around everyday for the best players in the

world, so why do most amateurs always play the same tees for every round?

We urge you to think outside the box, challenge yourself and have fun changing

things up every now and then.





Heading home, the 442 yd finisher requires a precision tee shot between

trees on the left and sand/water on the right.



The Wannamaker is the course most often used by the club to host their

events for PGA Professionals, it tests all aspects of your game with plenty

of variety. If you visit this summer be sure to also check out the newly

renovated Dye course. The 54 hole complex at PGA Golf Club (72 holes if

you count *St.Lucie Trail) is the only one of its kind between the Palm

Beaches and Orlando (which stretches for over 150 miles).



Off to the side of the front lobby and gallery area is this small meeting

room for VIP guests and Ryder Cup Captains. My favorite part of the room

is this Bald Eagle Ryder Cup sculpture.








*On April 12th, PGA of America President Paul Levy disclosed the planned

sale of their St.Lucie Trail golf course (that is off property just east of I-95)

and the PGA Learning Center. We have yet to visit St.Lucie Trail, but have

really enjoyed all that the Learning Center has to offer. It will be hard to

imagine PGA Village without the Learning Center being part of its future.

For more info on the Wanamaker and PGA Golf Club: