After $100 million facelift, PGA National Resort has golf (and dining) galore

a view of pga national resort in palm beach gardens, fla.

From top right, clockwise: The 18th hole of The Match course, the lobby bar at PGA National Resort, the 2nd hole of The Match, the pool.

Evan Schiller (top right, bottom left)/PGA National Resort

He wore a light blue polo and white Titleist hat, and he looked defeated. The man had just finished a round at one of PGA National Resort’s “big courses,” although I can’t tell you exactly which one. I was too afraid to ask. And truth is, who knows if it was his own game — maybe a late three-putt, shank or top — or something like the Bear Trap, the diabolical finishing stretch at The Champion course, that did him in.

Either way, I should have let him in on a secret. On the other side of the range sat two courses where his score didn’t matter, where the goal wasn’t about firing a career-low but instead having fun and/or beating your opponent.

Maybe I should have told him about The Staples and The Match courses at PGA National Resort, both of which opened just a couple of years ago. Or maybe he’ll just read this, become inspired and tee it up on those two next time he’s in the area. Or perhaps he’s watching this week’s PGA Tour event at the newly renamed Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches, which has taken place on The Champion course since 2007, and the broadcast will fill him in.

A lot has changed here over the last couple of years thanks to a $100 million renovation — yes, you read that right — that upgraded the golf courses, lodging, dining, you name it. Yes, there’s a lot going on at PGA National Resort these days. Let us count the ways…

There’s a lot of golf to play. We teased the golf already, so we might as well start there. PGA National Resort has 99 holes of golf — five 18-hole courses and one nine-hole course. There are four typical 18-hole championship courses in The Champion (this week’s aforementioned PGA Tour host), The Palmer, The Fazio and The Estate. The other 18 hole-course is The Match (which we’ll get to in a second), and then there’s the nine-hole par-3 Staple course.

Don’t sleep on the two newest courses. In 2021, the resort unveiled two new Andy Staples-designed creations — The Match and The Staple — which were molded from what used to be the 18-hole Squire course. The parallel 1st and 18th holes of The Squire were blown up and turned into a nine-hole par-3 Staple course, where no hole is longer than 130 yards. The Adirondack chairs point you toward the next green, but the actual tee location is up to whomever won the previous hole. You can even tee off from side-slopes or bunkers. Heck, you can tee off with your putter on every hole.

“It’s really simple to keep drawing 95-yard par-3s on a piece of paper, or even when you stake them and start hitting shots,” Staples told shortly after the course opened. “It’s really hard to make them distinguishable from each other and still not make them completely difficult or wonky.”

The remaining 16 holes received a facelift and became the 18-hole Match course, where there’s no slope, no rating or no par. Same as The Staple, the winner of the previous hole picks the teeing area on the next tee box, where there’s sometimes more than 100 yards of wiggle room. The course can play as short as 3,500 yards, or as long as 5,800. Staples even incorporated some template-hole designs here — like the Redan, Short and Biarritz — and maximized playability by limiting hazards and removing any rough. (For more on the two new courses, watch the video above.)

the staple course at pga national
A view of The Staple course, where if you look closely you’ll be able to spot all nine greens. Evan Schiller

Speaking of those brand new courses: bring the kids with you; not just to the resort, but to the golf course. At The Staple and The Match, you can play in groups bigger than your typical foursome, making them perfect for casual rounds (and younger players). But make sure to do all the other kids stuff too, like the arcade and the pool. There’s also the Banyan Buddies club, where you can drop them off and enjoy a dinner out for two — no need to entertain the children by playing Tic-tac-toe on the placemats.

But those new courses aren’t the only thing that’s received some TLC on property. With the $100 million renovation — the property used a Covid shutdown to take advantage of some upgrades — every part of the property was improved. New restaurants. New golf courses. Updated rooms. New pools. New paint. Meticulous landscaping with black mulch that always looks fresh. Hardly anything was left untouched.

The bar is the show-stopper. Part of the renovation included moving the lobby bar to the center of the grand room guests walk through when they first arrive — and it’s a welcome sight for those coming off busy travel days. (It’s open late, too.) But one of your best views is beyond the bar, through the doors and on the patio, where you can grab a drink or bite and take in the stunning view of the pool and sprawling property.

the lobby bar at pga national resort
A view of the lobby bar, the first thing you might notice when you enter, at PGA National Resort. Josh Berhow

Did you say pool? Yes, the pool is great (and heated!). There are cabanas to rent and on some weekends there’s a DJ. The pool bar also has a signature drink, where a coconut — complete with a PGA National Resort stamp on it — will be cracked open right in front of you and made into a coconut concoction of your choice.

It’s the bee’s knees. That’s right, there are bees here, but it’s actually one of the resort’s experiences (and a popular one). There are nearly 250,000 honeybees and four hives on-site at PGA National Resort, and the Beekeeping Experience provides a fun, educational, sweet and safe glimpse of the bees at work. (And yes, before you ask, you are fitted with suits and there’s an expert — professional beekeeper Sierra Malnove — leading it all.) You get to taste the honey (it’s delicious), but the coolest part? The honey produced here is used at the resort — in food, cocktails and at the spa.

Speaking of honey… At Honeybelle, one of the new restaurants that opened in 2021, you can munch on their classic fried chicken (a fan favorite) or order one of the woodfired pizzas. The vibe is casual but upscale, or the perfect amount of slightly-elevated South Florida chic. It’s also run by Chef Lindsay Autry, who you might know from “Top Chef.” And if you have kids, snag a seat in one of the corner booths near the kitchen, where you can watch the chefs whip up the tasty ‘zas.

the butcher's club restaurant at pga national resort
The Butcher’s Club at PGA National Resort, where James Beard Award nominee Jeremy Ford runs the show. Josh Berhow

Don’t forget about the other grub. There are four main restaurants on property, including Sushi by Bou, which, you guessed it, is sushi, and The Butcher’s Club, a sophisticated steakhouse that has an elegant, speakeasy-like feel that would make anyone want to cozy up and grab a filet and cocktail. (It’s also headed by Jeremy Ford, the winner of “Top Chef” season 13, who is also a James Beard Award nominee.) But don’t even think of forgetting about Birdie’s Diner, which is connected to the golf courses’ pro shop. It’s everything you’d want in a new-school diner — an old-school diner feel with delicious breakfast and lunches that come out crazy fast. Oh, and they have milkshakes too (which you can make boozy). It’s a great option for a pre-round bite or post-round lunch. The putting green is 10 yards away from the restaurant patio.

Tennis, anyone? There’s a ton of tennis and pickleball here — the woman working behind the desk at the fitness center described it as “crazy busy” — but a tennis star also had her hand in the spa. That’s Venus Williams and her V Starr brand, which helped redesign the resort’s 40,000 square-foot spa area. (Wellness, relaxation and the access to a healing escape have been a big emphasis for the resort post-renovation, and there are lots of different types of treatments to pick from.) There’s even mineral pools with different salts imported from around the world. The healing waters could do wonders for your body, mind and spirt. As for your golf swing? You’re on your own there.

Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at