PGA National Resort is best known for its difficult The Champion course, home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and the oft-mentioned Bear Trap. That layout is water water everywhere, with enough length and hard shots to make it one of the toughest tests the pros face each year.
Three other layouts at the resort – The Palmer, The Fazio and The Estate – offer similar, traditional Florida golf experiences, if not as difficult as The Champion course.
Andy Staples decided to flip the script with a different kind of golf at PGA National. The architect wanted guests and members to have an alternative that he says is more fun and plays faster, offering a chance for regular players to enjoy reasonable challenges in a format that de-emphasizes traditional stroke-play scoring.
With Friday’s opening of his 18-hole The Match course, Staples got his wish.
It’s a completely different approach to golf, as far from what is frequently dubbed “championship test” as might be found anywhere. Staples took the former 18-hole Squire course at the resort and reimagined it, turning several playing corridors into the nine-hole Staple par-3 course that opened in July, then using much of the rest to build the new Match course.
Gone are tee markers. Gone are traditional par values. And if all goes to Staples’ plan, gone is stroke play.
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