Located an hour's drive north of Palm Beach, Fla., Port St. Lucie, one of the more appealing enclaves along Florida’s Treasure Coast, tends to attract snowbirds seeking small-town charm, Indian River citrus and sunshine at a slower pace.
As for golf, one the state’s finest resort facilities is tucked away at PGA Village, a welcoming retreat opened 15 years ago by the PGA of America. The residential village--"Home to the Pros, Open to the Public”--is anchored by PGA Golf Club, which offers 54 holes of golf (two courses by Tom Fazio, one by Pete Dye), a 6-hole family-friendly Short Course, and the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance, one of the most advanced practice facilities in the world. Add nearby ocean beaches and casual waterside dining, and this laid-back land of juicy tangelos shapes up as a perfect two-day getaway.
PGA GC (Ryder Course). Gently rolling, Pinehurst-style layout carved from slash pines and palmetto scrub wraps around 70 acres of preserved wetlands. Broad fairways accommodate all styles of play, but large, well-defended greens are liberally contoured. Reaching them in regulation is no guarantee of par.
PGA GC (Wanamaker Course). Sprawling subtropical course has a bold, swashbuckling personality. Huge bunker complexes bleed into emerald-blue lakes and Everglades-like swamps that come into play often. A perfect amalgam of palms, sand and water make this one of Florida’s prettiest and most exacting courses.
PGA GC (Dye Course). Breezy, links-style layout by Pete Dye, staked out by pine straw roughs, coquina waste bunkers and a 100-acre marsh (the “Big Mamu”), is an out-and-back, walker-friendly layout revised by Dye in 2007. A counter-puncher that takes on all comers.
PGA Museum of Golf. A must for dyed-in-the-wool players. On display are the Ryder Cup and PGA Championship trophies, more than 6,000 books (including 17th-century tomes), golf-themed art and rare artifacts. Admission is free.
National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum (above). Located in Fort Pierce on the site where U.S. Navy frogmen trained during World War II, this fascinating military museum has equipment, weapons and demolition apparatus on display.
WHERE TO STAY
Hilton Garden Inn. Situated near PGA Village’s front gates and 15 minutes from white sand beaches, the hotel has comfortable rooms, free Wi-Fi, in-room refrigerator and other extras. Through Dec. 31, two-night, two-round packages start at $280.
Perfect Drive Golf Villas. The resort’s one-, two- and three-bedroom villas and town homes, most with golf course views, screened porches and swimming pools, offer residential amenities, daily housekeeping. On stays of four nights or more, guests receive a 15 percent discount on the accommodations portion of the golf package for travel through Feb. 9, 2012. (Book by Dec. 31).
Sam Snead’s Oak Grill & Tavern. Main restaurant at Hilton uses locally-cured oak to grill its aged beef, seafood, chops, ribs and chicken. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lots of Snead-themed memorabilia on display.
Conchy Joe’s Seafood. Located in nearby Jensen Beach 30 minutes south of PGA Village, this open-air Treasure Coast landmark, set beside Intracoastal Waterway, has live reggae music Thursday – Sunday. Don’t miss the Coconut Fried Shrimp and Grouper Marsala.
By: Brian McCallen