Is this Palm Beach muni the best public par-3 course in the world?
By Michael Bamberger | MARCH 2, 2020
The Palm Beach Par-3 is among the very best short courses in the world.
PALM BEACH PAR-3
This is the latest in our Muni Monday series, spotlighting stories from the world of city- and county-owned golf courses around the world. Michael Bamberger is manning the Muni Monday helm for the Florida Swing, which is good news for us all. Below is his second dispatch.
On the Monday after the Honda Classic, some of the most famous golfers in the world gather at the Seminole Golf Club, the oceanfront Donald Ross masterwork, for a club event called the Member-Pro. That presents an annual issue for Raymond Floyd, as he is both a member and a pro. As the pitching coaches say when you have three good left-handed starters, it’s a nice problem to have.
If you got in a boat on the beach at Seminole and sailed south about 20 nautical miles—past Lost Tree Village, the gated community where Jack Nicklaus lives, past Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s private club—you would eventually see another true oceanfront course, designed by Raymundo himself, which he did at no charge. It’s a muni! It’s owned and operated by the town of Palm Beach.
There’s no other course quite like it. It comprises 18 par-3 holes, representing all the popular wind directions, on 39 acres smack-dab between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. It would be impossible to put a price tag on the property—a half billion? Probably far more, but the town’s not selling, not now, not ever. That would be like Honolulu selling Waikiki Beach.
About 12 years ago, Floyd inherited a 1961 18-hole Dick Wilson course that had become a financial drain on the town. “I took a course that was losing money, changed the routing and everything about it, and now it makes so much money it carries everything the town’s rec department does,” Floyd said in a telephone interview while the fourth round of the Honda Classic was underway. Floyd lives a couple miles south, at a golf development called Old Palm, where there’s a course he designed.
The Palm Beach Par-3 is set on a strip of land between the Intracoastal and the Atlantic.
PALM BEACH PAR-3
Floyd is a par3ophile. He loves the Par-3 course at Augusta National and for years he and his little gang, on the Mondays and Tuesdays of Masters week, would go straight from the 18th green to the little course to settle their bets. These days, the course is off-limits until the Wednesday afternoon tournament.
But Floyd said he never even thought about the Augusta course when he was doing his work at this Par-3. “You couldn’t have a more different piece of land,” Floyd said. The Palm Beach course is flat as a nickel, windswept, public and busy. Floyd changed the routing so the holes move in a variety of directions, added more slopes to the greens and replaced the Bermuda grass with Paspalum, a thick-bladed grass that can withstand salt-heavy air. Floyd and his late wife, Maria, raised $3 million from private sources for the renovation and the township put up a matching amount.
Residents can play it for as little as $21 for 18 holes. The highest green fee is $57. The tee sheet is often crowded but the course is seldom packed. Most golfers at the PBP3 know when to pick up!
Sam Snead won an LPGA event there. Really. This is from the website Golf History Today:
“On Feb. 7, 1962, Sam Snead prevailed in a 15-player field at the Royal Poinciana Plaza Invitational that consisted of himself and 14 players from the LPGA, including Mickey Wright, Patty Berg, Kathy Whitworth and Betsy Rawls. In a two-day, four-round event at the Palm Beach Par-3 Golf Club, Snead posted a score of 5-under 211 to defeat Wright by five strokes. He was credited with an unofficial LPGA victory—and to this day, remains the only male golfer to claim a title on the ladies’ tour.”
Sunset over the Intracoastal.
PALM BEACH PAR-3
The course has a grass driving range where I’ve hit a thousand balls over the past 35 years. You’d sometimes see Jesper Parnevik and other pros there. Chuck Will, a longtime CBS golf director, lived down the street and played it regularly. That street—South Ocean Boulevard—bisects the course. The restaurant at the course, with a view of the ocean, has the second-best pizza in Palm Beach County. Out of self-interest, I am not sharing the PBC pizza I rank ahead of it.
The holes, from the back, range in length from about 80 yards to 180 yards.
More than once, I’ve gone from the driving range to the ocean. (There’s a lifeguarded beach nearby.) At this point, we all know the mantra of this Muni Monday space, which Beck did not capture but could have: “(Public golf): It’s where it’s at! I got two lob wedges and a microphone.”
One lob wedge will be plenty on this fun course. You really shouldn’t need more than seven clubs. You might need more than one ball, because of the wind, the little ponds, the big beach. A good guess is that Snead played it without losing a ball. How else can you shoot 211 over four rounds!
Michael Bamberger may be reached at Michael_Bamberger@Golf.com.
Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course Receives Number 3 Ranking
For the past 6 years the Palm Beach Par 3 golf course has enjoyed being ranked on the Top 10 Best Short Course list from multiple golf outlets. From the October 2016 article, Golf Advisor has ranked the Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course as number 3 of the top 25 Short Courses around the United States.
Palm Beach, Fla.
2,572 yards | 18 holes | Par 54
Lake Geneva, Wis.
2,708 yards | 18 holes | Par 54
Fort Myers, Fla.
5,146 yards | 18 holes | Par 67
Head Professional Tony Chateauvert Named “Merchandiser of the Year” by the South Florida Section of the P.G.A.
By Lulu Ramadan – Daily News Staff Writer
Friday, April 10, 2015
Tony Chateauvert has spent the last five years with the town working on ways to boost golf sales. He’s now being recognized for that work with an award from the southeast chapter of the South Florida PGA.
Chateauvert, golf manager of the Palm Beach Par 3, this month was named Merchandiser of the Year among public golf courses, which is awarded for excellence in sales, leadership and mentoring staff, according to the PGA website.
Chateauvert, 55, joined the Par 3, the town-owned 18-hole course nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, in 2010 with the goal of turning the course into a destination. In January 2014, he oversaw the grand opening of a new $3.1 million clubhouse, which he credits for a nearly 190 percent spike in sales in the past year.
“In 2013, total shop sales were at about $69,000,” Chateauvert said. “This year, we’re looking at $200,000 in total sales. It’s like night and day.”
He was nominated for the award by other members of the chapter, which is made up of members from Highlands, Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties. He was selected by a committee of PGA members over more than 120 public golf course managers in the area, said Geoff Lofstead, executive director of the South Florida PGA.
“This chapter is very large and there are many great merchandisers,” Lofstead said. “To be recognized by his peers in that large of a chapter is a really great honor.”
Popularity and sales at public golf courses have been shrinking nationally, Chateauvert said. But the Palm Beach Par 3 has challenged those trends.
“All the naysayers are saying that golf is dying,” he said. “That’s not true for Palm Beach. Sales are up, rounds are up. We’re bucking that trend everyday.”
The new clubhouse is more well-rounded than it used to be, Chateauvert said. It includes a renovated pro shop on the first floor and Al Fresco restaurant on the second floor.
“It’s a great destination constantly attracting people and now, with the addition of the restaurant, people come here just so they can golf by the ocean and dine,” he said.
Chateauvert will now compete for the Merchandiser of the Year award in the “section,” which includes the southeast and southwest chapters and is awarded in the summer. Continuing to win could allow him to compete nationally.
“I have my vision set on winning that national award,” he said. “Who can beat Palm Beach Par 3?”
Ultimately, he’s focused on building his team of employees and putting the club on the map.
“It’s such a unique and wonderful place,” he said. “I take that award as an honor for the entire team and the course, more than just an individual honor.”
Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course Named Hook A Kid On Golf 2010 New Golf Facility of the Year
Friday, December 03, 2010
PALM BEACH, Florida – The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) has awarded the Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course the Hook A Kid On Golf (HAKOG) 2010 New Golf Facility of the Year Award. The golf course was recognized for its outstanding efforts in introducing the game of golf to underserved children in Palm Beach County, through their programming, organization and professionalism.
The Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course partnered with The Par 3 Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Raymond Floyd to host their inaugural HAKOG clinics for 40 children, ages 8-12 years old, selected by the Boys and Girls Club.
“Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course’s clinics were a success due to the efficiency of those administrating the programs. The development of this new HAKOG site is a tremendous opportunity for local children to be introduced to the game of golf,” said Caitlin Autwell, Director of HAKOG. “They are a most deserving organization for the 2010 New Golf Facility of the Year Award.”
“Receiving this award not only recognizes the efforts of the Town’s Recreation Department and the volunteer golf instructors involved in running the clinics, but the long-term commitment by Raymond Floyd and the Par 3 Foundation for supporting this program,” said Jay Boodheshwar, Director of Recreation for the Town. Raymond Floyd said, “It really gives you a great feeling to do something good for the kids, and to have our site designated as the new site of the year makes it even more special.”
About Hook a Kid On Golf
Hook A Kid On Golf, a youth development program of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), was developed in 1991. It’s a comprehensive junior golf program that teaches children the game of golf and provides emphasis on golf’s rich history, rules and etiquette.