An introduction to Jupiter

There’s lots of talk about where the golfing capital of the world is. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina quite rightly has a good shout with both quantity and quality. The city of Naples in southern Florida has self-proclaimed itself as the golfing capital of the U.S.

But the quality of golf courses in Jupiter is second to none. This small town on Florida’s eastern coastline, has every right to be thrown into the mix. 

But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Jupiter is not even a city. It’s a town in Palm Beach County. But this is a town which punches well above its weight when it comes to the quality of its golf courses.

See also: What city in Florida has the best golf?

Jupiter, Florida

Despite covering just 21 square miles, Jupiter has become the epicenter of golf in Florida. Well that’s certainly what the tour pros think. A-list golfers who have made Jupiter their home include Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley, Justin Thomas, Ricky Fowler and countless others.

Simply put, the lifestyle is perfect. You can play golf year-round in Jupiter. You have the ocean on your doorstep. Elegant restaurants and bars line the coast. 

But most importantly, you have some outstanding golf courses.

The best golf courses in Jupiter

RankGolf Course
1Seminole Golf Club
2The Bear’s Club
3Jupiter Hills Club (Hills)
4Dye Preserve Golf Club
5Old Marsh Golf Club
6Trump National (Jupiter)
7Jupiter Hills Club (Village)
8PGA National (Champion)
9North Palm Beach
10The Loxahatchee Club
Table showing the best golf courses in Jupiter

1. Seminole Golf Club

Seminole Golf Club, Florida - Photo credit Peter Riedesel
Photo credit Peter Riedesel

So we start off the list of best golf courses in Jupiter with the Donald Ross designed Seminole Golf Club. 

Perched right on the Atlantic coastline, the course is tucked away in a 250-acre square plot. But rest assured, at no point do you feel encumbered. 

The course came to life in 1929 and was immediately recognised for its outstanding routing. As is often the case with Donald Ross courses, the greens are wickedly tricky. They are small and don’t allow much room for error, so playing conservatively is advised.

Large sand dunes which run for miles up the coastline, are strategically integrated into the routing. Inevitably off most tees, you’ll do well to avoid large sand traps which the fairways seem to lead you towards.

Despite being officially a Ross course, Seminole has received a lot of work over the years. Arguably the largest renovation project was led by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Early signs are positive and may help to push Seminole back down the Top 100 rankings instead of slipping the other way.

The whole experience at the club is second to none with lunch included as part of the package. The minute you arrive to the moment you leave, you are in for a treat. This is without doubt one of the finest golf courses in Florida, let alone Jupiter.

2. The Bear’s Club

The Bear's Club, Jupiter, Florida - Photo credit Magnus Ljungman
Photo credit Magnus Ljungman

Jack Nicklaus’ home club, designed by the Golden Bear himself and without doubt one of the finest golf courses in Jupiter. It is located in an exclusive gated community just a couple of miles from the popular Juno Beach.

Since the mid 60s, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus have called Palm Beach County home. Some 35 years later Jack eventually opened his own club. 

Absolutely no expense was spared when creating the course and that attention to detail has resulted in a true masterpiece. You’ll be lucky to find a better manicured course anywhere in the U.S.

So highly regarded is the course and overall experience, dozens of current Tour pros are members. It wouldn’t be unusual to find Dustin Johnson’s locker located right next to Michael Jordan’s! 

The site is stunning, full of century-oak trees and natural pines. Large wetlands and sand ridges are key characteristics, the latter which Nicklaus further embellished to provide a bit more interest to the layout. 

The practice facilities are world-class. And there is surely no finer place to finish your round than on the terrace of the stunning Tuscan styled clubhouse.

3. Jupiter Hills Club (Hills)

Jupiter Hills, Jupiter, Florida - Photo credit Tiffany Gormley
Photo credit Tiffany Gormley

North of Tequesta and skirting the edges of the Jonathan Dickinson State Park, is the private member’s club of Jupiter Hills.

There are two courses onsite, the Hills and the Village. The Hills was first to make an appearance, opening in 1970. It was designed by heavy-weights in golf course design,  George and Tom Fazio. 

Indeed the Fazio family have forever been involved in the evolution of Jupiter Hills. Even before the club existed George Fazio was one of the three instigators behind the creation of one of Florida’s exclusive private clubs.

Their involvement stretches all the way to the present day when Tom and Logan Fazio renovated the Hills course. This renovation has been widely accepted as a real masterpiece. To take an already great course and improve it is no mean feat.

For starters, the plot of land is pretty unique. In a state which is mainly flat, it’s one of the few in Florida with natural elevation and movement. Simply having views over the horizon is a real luxury, let alone a number.

The same sand dunes which run through Seminole Golf Club are also present at Jupiter Hills. Subsequently, Fazio’s routing uses this to its advantage, climbing up into the dunes on a handful of occasions. There are many hollows and shelves in the land which create further interest.

The character of the layout has taken a bit of a turn since the most recent renovation. What were once large areas of greenery full of palmetto bushes, have now been stripped away. Instead large expanses of brilliant white sandscapes dominate the vistas and course strategy. 

This is a divine course and alongside the Village course, is one of the finest 36-hole golf clubs in the state.

4. Dye Preserve Golf Club

Occupying beautiful real estate 10 miles to the west of Jupiter is the special golf course Dye Preserve. 

It originally opened for play in 1988 operating under the name of Cypress Links. But the name change followed a major renovation led by Pete Dye. What was a once popular course was elevated to being a true masterpiece.

The actual objective of the renovation was to make the course more playable to the membership. But Dye being the perfectionist he is, took to improving all aspects of the course and experience.

One thing which wasn’t impacted, was the vast number of bald cypress trees coated in Spanish moss. This core feature brings an elegance and character to the site and was what unsurprisingly influenced the club’s first name.

From the backs the course stretches to just under 7,000 yards. Fairways are tight whilst framed by majestic wildlife and vegetation. Wetlands and lakes are brimming with all manner of exotic birds.

5. Old Marsh Golf Club

Old Marsh Golf Club, Jupiter, Florida

Close to Palm Beach Gardens are some top class golf courses. Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club, Mirasol, Old Palm, BallenIsles and PGA National are just some of those names. 

But one which supersedes the lot, is the outstanding Old Marsh Golf Club. Located in a private residential estate, this is a course which never strays far from the ‘Best in State’ rankings.

Yet another majestic design by Pete Dye, Old Marsh came to life in the late 80s. This was very much Dye’s heyday as a designer. 

So what to expect when you do eventually get to play the course? Well there is a clue in the name. Marshes, and lots of them! This is as authentic Florida wetland as you’ll get, with nothing but carpet-like fairways cutting through them in various shapes and directions. 

Although the fairways are not tight, you don’t want to be missing them. The lay of the land outside of the fairways is so unforgiving, it would be quicker to drop another ball!

Despite the strict directive to keep the ball in play, there is an overriding feeling of calm and bliss. The course is so at one with nature, you’ll often encounter a variety of birds and wildlife.

This is a special course and one which Dye has returned to on a couple of occasions to make playable for the modern age.

6. Trump National (Jupiter)

Trump National (Jupiter), Florida - Adobe

Tucked up next to one of the finest golf courses in Jupiter and Florida, the Bear’s Club, Trump National Jupiter occupies a prime piece of real estate.

The course originally came to life in 2002 and was known as the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa. Ten years later it was sold and joined the burgeoning portfolio of golf clubs owned by Trump. 

There are a few reasons this layout is so admired. First and foremost though, it is a Jack Nicklaus signature design. Hardly a coincidence it is located right next to Jack’s home course.

Like the Bear’s Club, there is a real variety in holes and strategy required. From the tees, accurate driving is critical with many tight tree-lined fairways. Even just the slightest stray shot could see you building up a high score.

Around the greens expect hallows and pot bunkers which will happily devour errant approach shots. As for the greens themselves, they are firm and undulating, making long pots a test just to get a close 2nd putt. 

On one of the par 3s is a replica of the 17th on the Stadium course at Sawgrass. 

As to be expected, the conditioning is first-class. I can’t help but feel this is a distinctly underrated gem in one of Florida’s most competitive golfing hotspots.

7. Jupiter Hills Club (Village)

Jupiter Hills, Village, Florida - Photo credit Tiffany Gormley
Photo credit Tiffany Gormley

On to the second course at Jupiter Hills Club, another masterpiece designed by George and Tom Fazio. The Village course opened for play in 1978, some eight years after its sibling the Hills course.

Much of the same applies to the Village course as the Hills we looked at earlier. The land is hilly, far more so than your average Florida site. This allows for impressive vistas and views of the surrounding landscape.

Recent renovations have ripped out vast quantities of vegetation and scrub, replaced by a sea of white sandscapes. And the same clubhouse and exceptional service is there to be enjoyed.

But it is shorter than the Hills, being just shy of 7,000 yards from the backs. 

There are some superb holes, including the second, a 156-yard par 3 surrounded by a sea of white sand. As are the eighth and eleventh holes. Both medium range par 4s with narrow fairways flanked by nothing but sand as far as the eye can see!

The Hills get the plaudits, and rightly so. But the Village course is a fine second-fiddle and makes this list of best golf courses in Jupiter.

8. PGA National (Champion)

PGA National Resort, West Palm Beach, Florida

The PGA National Resort & Spa is one of the most popular golf resorts in Florida. There are an impressive five golf courses to choose from of which the Champions course is the one to play.

Golf enthusiasts will go on a pilgrimage to play here, primarily due to its rich history of hosting elite competitions. None-more-so than the 1983 Ryder Cup where the US team only just edged out the Europeans. 

Jack Nicklaus was in charge of the US team, which is coincidental being as this is also now arguably a Nicklaus course. Although it wasn’t at the time of the Ryder Cup. 

The Champions course was originally another Fazio father and son design. A mere two years after completing the Village course at Jupiter Hills Club, George and Tom laid the design for the Champion course. 

The objective was to make this a course to host tournament play, of which it also hosted a PGA Championship. 

But it was in 1990, and subsequently in 2002, that Nicklaus was brought in to completely remodify the course. And that he did, not so much renovating what was there, but building a brand new course, albeit one with the same routing. 

This is without doubt one of the best public golf courses in Florida. But not if you have a handicap of 18 or above. This is a beast to play with stray shots heavily penalized. 

The stretch of holes from 15-17 are called ‘The Bear Trap’. Essentially a par 4 and two par 3s each with water in play. Assuming you still have a decent card up to here, be prepared for it all to go out of the window.

9. North Palm Beach

Yet another Jack Nicklaus design in the Jupiter/Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood. And yet another which has witnessed a fair amount of change over the years.

The club came to life around a century ago, initially called Palm Beach Winter Club. It was designed by the famed architect Seth Raynor and opened for play in 1926. 

The club was designed as a destination for prospective real estate investors as well as well-to-do big wigs from the local area.

But over the years, the original Raynor design was slowly eroded by countless other renovations. So by the time Nicklaus was called in to completely renovate the course, there was very little Raynor left! 

That date was late 2006 and by this time under its new moniker of North Palm Beach Country Club, the course was public. It’s been well publicized how Nicklaus only charged $1 to give something back to the community for his design work.

The layout is squeezed into a tight plot, just 125 acres to contend with. But Nicklaus has done a fine job and there are a nice variety of holes. The greens are superb although a little difficult to read. 

When in good condition, this is a prime choice. One of only a couple Jack Nicklaus signature layouts open to the public. Add it to your list. 

10. The Loxahatchee Club

And finally we round off this list of best golf courses in Jupiter with the Loxahatchee Club. 

The course is the centerpiece of a private residential community. Within the community there are 285 homes surrounded by 71 acres of serene freshwater lakes and verdant greenscapes. Some of the homes are simply divine with very few, if any, encroaching the course.

The layout is yet another Jack Nicklaus signature design. So highly rated, Nicklaus said of Loxahatchee it was one of his most imaginative courses and certainly one of the best he’s ever done.

Well fine it is indeed. But if you don’t like water, maybe give this a miss. There are 14 holes where water comes into play, including every par 3. There are no two ways of looking at Loxahatchee, it is tough, super tough. 

To play to your handicap here takes some doing. Where water isn’t in play, large areas of sand lie in wait. 

There are some terrific holes, maybe not quite to the same level as The Bear’s Club down the road. But this is without doubt a scenic layout and renowned as being a shot maker’s course. With 71 acres of water, you can understand why!

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