If you were brainstorming a list of everything a recreational golfer would look for in a course, it might look something like this: Good pace of play, friendly atmosphere, epic scenery, beautiful conditioning, perfect weather, playable for high-handicappers, challenging for low-handicappers…
It took just one round at the Palm Beach Par 3 to find it checked every box.
Few courses have such a strong sense of place. The Par-3 extends the full width of Palm Beach, which is a very narrow island. As a result, eight holes run along the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway on the other.
The views are stunning in any light, but very few courses get to show off at both sunrise and sunset.
“You come here, you realize it’s not your typical muni,” says Tony Chateauvert, the Par 3’s general manager and head pro. “You know, it’s a little step above.”
And yet the cost for a morning tee time in-season maxes out at $70.
A round here changed every preconception I had about par-3 courses. Tee shots ranged from 80 to 200 yards, calling for every club from half-wedges to hybrids. Smart pin positions and wind off the water make sure you approach each swing differently.
The greens are pure and intriguing, and well-placed bunkers make sure that the Palm Beach Par 3 is no hit-and-giggle.
Nothing about my round was repetitive or bland, the way I’ve felt playing other par 3 courses. The driver was the best club in the bag this season for both me and my girlfriend, yet neither of us missed hitting it that morning.
“The holes are legit and you can’t beat the location,” says Patrick Pedari, the course’s starter for nearly a decade. “I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”
Pedari and Chateauvert are two of the most visible faces on property and have been instrumental in ushering in a profitable era for the Palm Beach Par 3. The two of them, course superintendent Tim Campbell, and several other teaching pros all have extensive experience working at private golf clubs in Florida as well as in the northeast U.S.
When I first got here, the town was losing $400,000 to $500,000 a year,” Chateauvert says. “And then Covid hit, we went from 40,000 rounds to 54,000 rounds. The town of Palm Beach, they’ll keep this as a golf course forever. They’re making over a million dollars in profit.”
The course was packed when I visited, but even in Palm Beach, I was surprised to learn the course’s clientele didn’t match the standard muni profile.
“We have four or five Seminole members out there playing now,” Chateauvert says, referencing one of America’s most exclusive private golf clubs just a half hour away. “We have a cross-section from new golfers to VIPs who never mention a thing. We have Augusta National members come here.”
Although set in one of the wealthiest enclaves in the U.S., the Palm Beach Par 3 is still a municipal course, which means it’s open to everyone. Locals and tourists alike should take full advantage of access to such a unique golf experience, an inexpensive round that truly feels like you’re at a private course.
“It’s a beautiful place, you can’t beat it, Patrick says. “No one goes home sad here, everyone has a happy outlook.”
So if you’re in the area this winter, pop out to Palm Beach! After all, its residents already have plenty of everything.
No need to let them keep a great golf course to themselves.