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Sailfish Point

On a barrier island along the Atlantic coast, Jack Nicklaus designed a scenic, windswept layout at a community that offers the best of the South Florida lifestyle—an engaging course, private beach and access to the open seas

By: Tom Cunneff

Appeared in 2011 Nicklaus Premier Clubs

Jack Nicklaus LOVESTOFISH.  He has a boat called Sea Bear, and he has traveled around the world—Russia, Mexico, Bahamas, Christmas Island—to pursue his favorite pastime. Over the decades, he has gathered plenty of stories about the ones that got away.

Sailfish Point is not one of them. 

Located at the tip of South Florida’s Hutchinson Island and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, St. Lucie Inlet to the south and the Indian River to the west, Sailfish Point is a 528-acre private community with a 77-slip marina and a dramatic Nicklaus Signature course featuring views of the water.

“If you love to fish and play golf, there is no better place in the world,” says Victor Tortorici, Sailfish Point’s director of golf since 1993. “It’s paradise.”

Opened in 1981, the 7,088-yard layout makes golfers feel as if they were on the water, especially when they are exposed to the salty ocean breeze that adds another layer of challenge to the strategic features shaped by the Golden Bear. 

One of the best holes is the 315-yard 7th, where players can lay up to avoid the water, which runs down the entire right side, or challenge the bunkers left with driver for a shorter approach into the well-guarded green. 

In 2007 Nicklaus recontoured the fairways and capped them with a foot of sand to improve drainage. At the same time, he tweaked holes like the 372-yard 11th, which was elevated and moved right to provide a better view of the inlet.

The finishing stretch includes some of the toughest holes on the course. The 614-yard 14th typically plays into the wind, and the approach has to carry a large lake and bunker. Another hard-earned par is the 204-yard 16th, where a lake and deep beach bunker protect the left side of the green. 

The 443-yard 18th bends around a giant waste bunker, which guards the entire right side of the hole, before finishing at a large two-tiered green along the ocean. Steps away is the private beach, which stretches for a mile and a half. Those looking to enjoy the water farther off the shore make use of the private yacht club and marina, which can accommodate vessels with lengths up to 125 feet.

Whether members and residents spend the day playing golf or going deep-sea fishing, they can gather afterward at the oceanfront clubhouse, the social center of the member-owned club. Newly renovated and expanded, the 60,000-square-foot facility houses a fitness center, spa with hair salon, beach and tennis club, and a restaurant and lounge with glass walls that provide spectacular views of the ocean.

After the round, while enjoying a cold drink and sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean, members and their lucky guests feel as if they were transplanted to an exotic tropical destination.

“It’s almost like being on a Caribbean island,” says Ed Wax, a Sailfish Point resident for four years, “with all the advantages of being in the States. The course can be very difficult when the wind is up, but I love it. When you get to the 14th green and you’re looking right into the inlet where the river meets the ocean with the breeze coming at you, it’s pretty spectacular.”

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