Forget what you know about Florida golf at The Park West Palm

green and sand bunkers in florida

No water. No houses. Instead, an original design in beautiful condition. Welcome to West Palm Beach's newest public course.

Connor Federico

The Park isn’t even a year old yet. But since its opening in April, it’s already made a difference in the lives of West Palm Beach residents and nearby golf lovers.

It’s not just a brand-new Gil Hanse design open to the public. The Park West Palm is a community center. Local children learn the game and get free help with their schoolwork. Aspiring pros practice for hours on end, and golfers of all handicaps and backgrounds enjoy a state-of-the-art facility.

Unlike most golf experiences, The Park West Palm is open long into the night. Their 9-hole short course — a fun challenge for only $30 — is surrounded by flood lights, so is the putting course and short-game practice area. Food, drinks and music help give the place a relaxed atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to bring friends and family who aren’t into playing a full round in the Florida sun.

Stadium lighting shines on The Park’s short course, The Lit 9, once the sun sets. Connor Federico

But if you prefer the 18-hole experience, a round at The Park will quickly illustrate why it’s my favorite course I played this year.

The Park breaks the mold for South Florida public-access golf courses. There are no houses and backyard out-of-bounds stakes. There aren’t any manmade ponds — in fact there’s no water on the course at all. But there are plenty of sprawling bunkers, rolling fairways and creative green complexes. It’s a high-quality course that sits on the same sand ridge as world-famous Seminole.

“It’s the most fun golf course I’ve ever played,” says Cody Sinkler, The Park’s first director of golf. “If you stop and just look around, there’s nothing but golf all around you. That’s pretty cool.”

It’s not difficult to get from tee to green at The Park, but scoring is fun and challenging. Inviting, wide fairways greet golfers before difficult approach shots. Many of the greens are crowned, rejecting long irons back into fairway collection areas.

Other greens are surrounded by deep bunkers, like the par-3 17th hole, or feature multiple tiers with big-breaking putts, like the par-3 11th. No two holes are the same at The Park, and none are easy.

A steep bunker shot awaits those who miss the green on The Park’s par-3 17th. Connor Federico

Also upending the South Florida status quo, The Park West Palm encourages players to walk, limiting carts until the afternoon. The course has a thriving caddie program that provide health benefits and retirement savings programs.

My caddie for the day, Tanner, had just moved to West Palm Beach after finishing college. He just turned pro, playing at small events around Florida and trying to break into Q School.

For him, The Park provides daily work, and he uses that money to cover his event fees and travel costs. But they also let their caddies play the course and use the practice facilities whenever there’s an open spot. Tanner says he’s never heard of another caddie program like it; he says he practically lives at the place.

His relationship with The Park, just like its budding relationship with the surrounding community, is working out just fine.

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