An introduction to Port St Lucie
As we work our way up Florida’s eastern coastline, we look at the collection of best golf courses in Port St Lucie.
This is a beautiful and growing city on the Atlantic waterfront, which offers the perfect getaway from the stresses of modern life.
Port St Lucie is very nature orientated with picturesque gardens, numerous parks, mangroves and Florida wetlands all easily accessible.
Aside from the endless scenic activities, the city is teeming with top class restaurants and has some great breweries to visit. No wonder the city is seeing a growing number of visitors year on year.
But what continues to be one of the main attractions is the pure quantity and quality of golf courses. In fact, with Hobe Sound and Jupiter to the south, and Vero Beach to the north, this stretch of coastline is as strong as it gets for golf.
I even argued Jupiter and Hobe Sound to the south is the best city in Florida for golf. You can read about it in this article here: What city in Florida has the best golf?
But for now, let’s dive into the best golf courses in Port St Lucie.
The best golf courses in Port St Lucie
1. Floridian National
To kick off our list of best golf courses in Port St Lucie, we have the iconic Floridian National. This premier golf club came to life in 1995 and it was the private playground of the billionaire Wayne Huizenga.
Huizenga was the brains behind Blockbuster and various other businesses such as AutoNation. Having brought in Gary Player to design this fabulous layout, Huizenga and his wife were literally the only two members for well over a decade.
This was of course his prerogative. But it was a massive shame as the Floridian Yacht & Golf Club, as it was formerly known, happened to be one of the Black Knight’s best designs. So few people were able to experience it.
Fast-forward to 2010 and the club was sold to Texan businessman Jim Crane. One of the first things Crane did was to completely remodel the course. For this project, he brought in none-other than Tom Fazio.
By and large, Fazio kept much of the original routing the same. But instead he repositioned bunkers, reworked green complexes and generally improved and revamped many of the surrounding areas.
Today, the superb championship course holds its own as one of the finest in the state. Perfectly manicured rolling fairways lead up to sublime greens complexes.
The location also plays its part. Between Port St Lucie and Stuart, the course is positioned on the banks of the serene St Lucie river. There are breathtaking views from a number of the holes.
The course is still private, but the membership has definitely grown from the previous number of 2. So your chances of getting on here have grown exponentially.
2. PGA Golf Club at PGA Village (Dye Course)
The PGA Golf Club is a beating heart of golf, a celebration of the game and a must-visit if you are in Port St Lucie.
There is so much to do here. Want to hone your game? Get lessons from some of the best instructors in the state. Want to enjoy fine dining and a cold beer? Visit the Taplow Pub. Or fancy some retail therapy? Visit the huge golf shop, one of the focal points of the 2015 renovation.
But that is not everything. For most people visiting here, they’ll want to play one of the three top class championship golf courses.
The Wanamaker and Ryder courses were designed by Tom Fazio. Whilst the Dye course was designed by the great Pete Dye. All three have received their fair share of recognition, including being recognised and highly rated in Golf Digest’s ‘Top Public Golf Courses in Florida’ listing.
Of course, depending on who you speak to, you’ll get a different perspective. But the apex course here has to be the Dye Course, which shows off his uninhibited creative style of designing golf courses.
Offering pure Florida surroundings, the Dye course is links in style. The course features massive coquina waste bunkers whilst flanking fairways are mostly pine straw roughs. Sand plays a major part and it’s highly unlikely you won’t end up in some during your round.
The Dye Course at PGA Golf Club doesn’t host any major tournaments, like many of his other designs. But for a really competitive rate, members of the public can experience a first-rate golf course design, by a world-class architect.
3. Tesoro Club (Palmer Course)
The next in our list of golf courses in Port St Lucie is the outstanding Palmer Course at the esteemed Tesoro Club.
The recipient of a very recent renovation, the Palmer Course is one of two superb championship courses at the luxury Tesoro Club.
This is a premier gated community on the outskirts of Port St Lucie, a stone’s throw away from the tranquil shores of the St Lucie River.
Residents at Tesoro Club get to enjoy two fine-dining restaurants as well as many other first-class amenities. But golf really takes center stage, with both courses designed by iconic names in the world of golf, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.
The Palmer Course is sensational and one of Palmer’s most underrated layouts. The routing meanders through lush wetlands and wooded natural preserves. This is pure bliss.
There are few birdie opportunities, possibly a reason it was selected to host a PGA Tour event in 2007. Add to this the impressive length, measuring over 7,300 yards from the back tees. An awesome test of golf in terrific condition.
4. Santa Lucia River Club
The secluded gated community of Ballantrae occupies a magnificent 402 acre plot alongside the St. Lucie River. What feels like an oasis hidden away from modern life, is however just 15 minutes drive from central Port St Lucie.
The centerpiece of the club is the wonderful par 72, Jack Nicklaus Signature Design. Opening in 1993, Nicklaus came back again in 2006 to oversee a course renovation.
As you would expect from a private member-only club, the course is more often than not in pristine condition. Carpet-like fairways lead you up towards well structured green complexes.
Like all good Jack Nicklaus designs, there are plenty of bunkers, some vast in size. And it wouldn’t be a Florida course where water is not present on at least half of the holes.
The quality of the layout was recognised as the course was selected to host USGA Open Qualifying. It has also hosted a number of other notable events, including amongst others The Florida Junior Tour, Florida State Golf Association Championships and the South Florida PGA Championships.
If there was a criticism we could throw Santa Lucia’s way, it would be the omni-present view of housing. But maybe that’s just us being naive. It’s a reality of golf in the state and as long as it doesn’t encroach too much on the playing experience…is it a major issue?
5. PGA Golf Club at PGA Village (Wanamaker Course)
Second up at the PGA Golf Club is the Wanamaker Course, named in recognition of Rodman Wanamaker who founded the PGA Championship.
The Wanamaker Course was designed by the prolific Tom Fazio and opened for play in 1996.
Fazio has designed hundreds of golf courses with most of those in the U.S. With such a lofty reputation throughout his career, Fazio was much in demand to design courses for private clubs.
Well the Wanamaker, like the Dye and Ryder courses at PGA Village, is 100% a public course and proud of it. It is also without doubt one of Fazio’s finest publicly accessible golf courses.
This is a great design and on another day could be ranked higher than the Dye Course.
Where the Wanamaker differs from the Dye Course is the fact it is a little more forgiving from the tee and in its approach shots. This makes the course that bit more playable.
But don’t for a second think this is going to be easy. Oh no. Water, wetlands and plenty of it with a litany of white sand bunkers. All of this framed by a canvas of palms and palmettos. This whole layout is beautiful.
6. Sailfish Point Golf Course
Few golf courses in the world, let alone the United States, will have such a location as Sailfish Point Golf Course.
Located at the southern tip of the barrier island which runs along Florida’s Treasure Coast, this is a special place.
On one side you have the vast Atlantic Ocean. On the other, across the Indian River the city of Stuart, considered one of America’s most beautiful cities. Hutchinson Island is to the north and the St. Lucie Inlet to the south…this is aesthetically second to none.
The Sailfish Point Golf Course is part of the wider Sailfish Point private community. Surrounded by pristine beaches and large waterfront homes, this is a mini-haven.
The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is one of his signature layouts. The conditioning is sensational and this was only improved by the 2021 renovation.
Water plays a significant part in creating the character of the course. So much so, every hole has water in play to some degree. No wonder there are seven sets of tees which stretch the course from 4,420 yards to just under 7,120 yards. Unless you hit the ball consistently straight, don’t even consider the backs!
7. Willoughby Golf Club
Just minutes from downtown Stuart and a 20 minute drive from Port St Lucie, is Willoughby Golf Club.
Willoughby is yet another private country club in this affluent area. Members of the gated community get to enjoy first class amenities in lush surroundings. These surroundings include a nature preserve and multiple idyllic lakes.
The focal point of the complex is the superb Arthur Hills designed championship golf course.With tall pines it evokes a part Carolina feel, whilst the lakes and wetlands remind you this is the heart of Florida.
Building upon the nature preserve background, the course is incredibly elegant. In top class condition, it is framed by palms, palmettos and pines. The carpet-like fairways offer wide playing areas to approach the challenging green complexes.
That said, the course is very much aimed at all levels. Relatively wide landing areas and multiple tee options make the course approachable. From the back tees Willoughby measures just shy of 6,600 yards, so not overly taxing.
In all, this is a picturesque course well deserving of its position in the best golf courses in Port St Lucie list.
8. Tesoro Club (Watson Course)
The second championship golf course at the private gated community of Tesoro Club, is the wonderful Watson Course.
Tom Watson was one of the greatest players to grace the game of golf. When it came to golf course design, he was very selective about which assignments he took on.
This meant, unlike some of his peers at the time such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, Watson has far fewer course creations to his name. In Florida, a state with well over 1,500 golf courses, Watson only designed three.
Yet one of those three is here at Tesoro Club.
Watson’s game was known for his meticulous approach and precise play. When it came to golf course design, little changed. He would deliberate over the best routing for far longer than most other architects.
As such, the Watson Course is a delight to play. He’s managed to blend together immense playability with the pristine beauty of the site. The course features wide rolling fairways and large well-contoured greens. Players with a solid short game should score well.
9. PGA Golf Club at PGA Village (Ryder Course)
It’s inevitable really. Three championship golf courses designed by two of the finest golf course architects the world has ever known. One of them has to be the lowest ranked.
Or you could argue it finished third and ended up on the podium?
Either way, the Ryder Course doesn’t quite meet the same standards as its sister courses, the Dye and Wanamaker.
But, that does not mean the Ryder Course isn’t worth playing. Quite the contrary. Context is key ultimately. And when you are being compared to two of the finest public golf courses in the state of Florida, it is always going to be hard to compete.
The Ryder is still a fine course designed by one of the greatest golf course architects in Tom Fazio. It occupies a delightful plot of land which has earned Audubon International ‘Signature Sanctuary’ status. Granted so have the other two, but this gives you an idea as to the beauty and natural feel of the site.
Named after Samuel Ryder, the founder of the Ryder Cup, this is a very playable and more approachable layout.
The course has a distinctive Carolina-feel, with majestic pines and rolling hills. There are strategically positioned bunkers and challenging water hazards.
This is a fun course and yes, it doesn’t quite reach the mark of its sister courses. But this is a far more approachable course and always in great condition.
What is the best golf course in Port St Lucie?
The best golf course in Port St Lucie is Floridian National, located to the south of Port St Lucie on the banks of the St. Lucie River. The course was originally designed by Gary Player but completely renovated under the guidance of Tom Fazio in 2010.