As we continue our quest of exploring the best public golf courses around America, this time we head to the Sunshine State. Here we’re looking at the best public golf courses in West Palm Beach.
Part of Florida’s south eastern Gold Coast, which runs from Miami to West Palm Beach, this is a sensational region. Miles upon miles of gorgeous beaches with elegant riverways, marinas, quaint towns and cities.
West Palm Beach specifically has countless private member clubs. Many of these gated golf communities house outstanding golf courses in pristine condition. In fact, for every public golf course in the area, there are probably 2 or 3 private courses.
That said, dig a little deeper and there are some great fun public golf courses in West Palm Beach which tend to be great value. Let’s have a look at them now.
The best public golf courses in West Palm Beach?
|1||PGA National Resort (Champion, Palmer, Fazio, Estate, Match)|
|2||Osprey Point Golf Course|
|3||Palm Beach National Golf Course|
|4||North Palm Beach Country Club|
|5||Okeeheelee Golf Course|
|6||Madison Green Country Club|
|7||Atlantis Country Club|
|8||Winston Trails Golf Club|
|9||Atlantic National Golf Club|
|Groups||Palm Beach National Golf Course|
|Value for money||Okeeheelee Golf Course|
|Clubhouse||PGA National Resort|
|Views||North Palm Beach Country Club|
1. PGA National Resort (Champion, Palmer, Fazio, Estate, Match)
We kick off our list of the best public golf courses in West Palm Beach, with the superb PGA National Resort.
Unlike every other entry on this list, the PGA National is a vast resort with multiple golf options to choose from. These include five championship 18-hole layouts and a shorter nine-hole course.
The PGA National Resort has been a mainstay of the Palm Beach Gardens area for decades. Partly because the hotel is fantastic and partly because the golf is such high quality.
The resort as a whole entity is one of the finest in Florida. You can read about it in more detail in this blog post – what are the best golf resorts in Florida? Fair to say its popularity has increased significantly following a recent $100 million renovation which happened in 2021/2022.
Golf at PGA National
But clearly golf is what we’re here for and again here it does not disappoint. The Champion course has for many years been a regular feature on the PGA Tour, hosting the Honda Classic.
At over 7,000 yards, this is a punishing and brutal challenge for the everyday golfer. But boy is it fun! It was originally designed by Tom and George Fazio, whilst Jack Nicklaus redesigned it in 2014.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Palmer and The Fazio are both outstanding courses. Both named after their creator, The Palmer is definitely the more forgiving. There are wider landing areas and generally is known to be a risk/reward course. Creative shot making is encouraged.
Whilst The Fazio is aimed at lower handicaps. Creative shot making is probably discouraged! Be long and be precise on this beast of a course.
The other golf options are all top class, with The Match course having most recently been reimagined by Andy Staples. This is not about stroke-play and instead completely focused on match-play. So much so, if you’re out of the hole, you’re encouraged to pick up and move on. No round should last longer than three hours.
To play any of these courses, you’ll need to stay at the PGA National Resort. There are a number of stay and play packages which offer great value for money. It is also just minutes away from the coast and central Palm Beach Gardens, so this is a perfect spot to use as a base.
2. Osprey Point Golf Course
With most of the golf courses in this list, I’ve tried to ensure none of them are over a half hour’s drive from central West Palm Beach. And by and large, all of them are.
Except one. Osprey Point Golf Course, which is around a 40 minute drive south, inland from Boca Raton. I’ve made the exception here because Osprey Point is such a fine example of a public golf facility.
It opened in 2010 to huge acclaim. In a lush and serene setting without a residential building in sight, the course feels like an extension of the Everglades. The vast alligator-filled habitat hugs the property and its presence is felt strongly when playing here.
27 holes are spread out in three loops of 9-holes with the Hawk/Raven combination the crowd favorite. Whilst five-sets of tees make the course approachable to all levels.
Osprey Point is renowned in the area for its first-class conditioning. This is partly to do with the use of Platinum Paspalum turf which is like striking off a carpet. And this is tee to green.
It has received numerous awards since opening and has one of the highest user ratings. And with rates starting around the $40 mark, this is immense value for money.
3. Palm Beach National Golf Course
Every now and again you come across a golf course which just stands out from the crowd. It could be the design, the location, some special offers it’s promoting.
But Palm Beach National Golf Course stands out from the crowd with its confident claims of being one of the most entertaining courses in the state. Bold proclamations need to be backed up. Yet here they do stack up.
This is a fine course which was designed by the late Joe Lee, who specialized in Florida courses. At Palm Beach National, Lee was tasked with devising a course big on style. It had to be entertaining and welcoming to all levels.
Fair to say, this was achieved and today Palm Beach National is one of the most popular public golf courses in West Palm Beach.
The routing is more traditional in style, more akin to some of the earlier golf course layouts. There are wide welcoming fairways so off the tee you can go big. But plenty of hazards await, with trees and water aplenty.
Even by the 3rd hole your nerve is being tested. A par-3 with an island green, without doubt one of the layouts best holes.
Generally, the course is in great condition and with tee times starting at the $40 mark, this is a great option.
4. North Palm Beach Country Club
One of the oldest golf courses in West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach Golf Course opened for play in 1926. Back then, it was known instead as ‘Palm Beach Winter Club’.
It was even designed by one of the most famous early American golf course architects, Seth Raynor. In fact, this was to be Raynor’s last ever project, as he passed away in West Palm Beach around the time of the course opening.
This fine golf course is located a 20 minute drive north of West Palm Beach. Close to the coast, it is a stone’s throw away from the North Palm Beach Waterway.
For over a century, it has been a mainstay of the area. But big changes were to come in the twenty-first century. In 2006, a major renovation. Whilst in 2019 a complete redesign under the watchful eye of Jack Nicklaus. This is now one of his signature designs.
Some may rue the loss of Raynor’s last creation. Yet North Palm Beach Golf Course was in desperate need of modernization. And Nicklaus has done just that whilst injecting the course with a new lease of life.
Generous fairways make maximum use of the gentle undulations which are endemic to the site. Large greens feature plenty of movement with native sand dunes giving the course character.
A number of the holes run parallel to the Intracoastal Waterway, making this one of the more scenic courses in the area. Little wonder with its notable past, the club is highlighted on the Florida Historic Golf Trail.
5. Okeeheelee Golf Course
A short drive from Palm Beach International Airport, only 20 minutes from downtown, is the wonderful Okeeheelee Golf Course.
The club is located in the huge Okeeheelee Park, an expansive green site allocated for outdoor activities. Golf is just one of many here, with disc golf, soccer fields, a boat ramp, wake park, tennis courts, kayaking … .the list goes on.
But the Okeeheelee golf course occupies the whole eastern part of the site. There are three loops of 9-holes, each named after the wildlife that roam the vast park. The Heron, Eagle and Osprey.
All three loops, designed by Roy Case in 1995, will offer something different and test most golfers. But the Heron/Eagle combination is arguably the more challenging, with the Eagle being particularly tough.
The course has a reputation for being in great shape with maintenance high up on the agenda. Greens run fast but true. All in all, a great public golf course in West Palm Beach.
6. Madison Green Country Club
After 25 minutes heading due west along Okeechobee Boulevard from West Palm Beach, you’ll arrive at Madison Green Country Club.
Despite being relatively residential, it is a lush setting with plenty of greenery.
A canopy of trees including hundreds of palms and many pines are dotted all around the site. There are also a number of lakes, giving a calm and peaceful air to the surroundings.
The course opened in 2001 and was designed by John Sanford, who has been working in golf design since the late 80s.
Sandford’s work has taken him all over the world including Egypt and Puerto Rico. He has also been involved in a number of new designs and renovations in the U.S., although primarily within the state of Florida.
Madison Green is a fantastic and varied design and a great addition to his portfolio.
Fairways feature subtle undulations whilst meandering through the vast natural setting. As mentioned earlier, there is water and lots of it. Likewise, there are over 100 bunkers which come into play.
This is no easy test, especially if you choose to play off the back tees. Although with five sets of tees, it allows all different levels of golfer to enjoy the course.
7. Atlantis Country Club
Highly rated by Golf Digest and considered one of the better public golf courses in West Palm Beach, is Atlantis Country Club.
Centrally located just to the south of the city, you’d probably expect the site to be hemmed in by countless houses. So it is a pleasant surprise to arrive in a picturesque and verdant environment.
There is a real private golf club-feel at Atlantis Country Club, with the level of service and well-manicured grounds. The welcome is warm and friendly and it is a real pleasure to come here.
The course opened in 1973 and was designed by Bob Simmons. The gently undulating fairways are more often than not quite open, reducing the risk of losing balls. There are a handful of tight tree-lined holes, but on the whole it is not too challenging from the tee.
But it is in the approach shots that things get more challenging.
Water hazards, of which there are many throughout the course, are present alongside thick waves of trees. These include banyans, mature oaks and pines. Oh, and don’t forget the hundred-plus bunkers dotted throughout.
8. Winston Trails Golf Club
Yet another semi-private golf club which offers a private club atmosphere, Winston Trails Golf Club is ever popular with the locals.
This fine championship golf course was designed by Joe Lee, a prolific architect in the Sunshine State.
From the back tees, this is a really decent challenge. Over 7,000 yards with huge water hazards coming into play on most holes. Although fairways are by and large generous, you still need some accuracy off the tee.
Assuming you are wayward off the tee but you somehow don’t end up in the water, the rough is relatively low-cut. Alongside large friendly greens this means the course is approachable to most levels and keeps the pace of play good.
Just a few miles from Lake Worth and surrounded by private golf clubs, Winston Trails is a popular facility. It is an award-winning PGA Merchandiser of the Year and offers top-class practice facilities and a state of the art fitness center.
9. Atlantic National Golf Club
Another public golf course located close to Lake Worth. Another golf course designed by Joe Lee. And yet another top class public golf course in West Palm Beach.
Atlantic National Golf Club came to life in the late 1980s and was designed by that man again, Joe Lee. Prolific throughout his career, he was paid the ultimate compliment by Jack Nicklaus in saying he ‘never built a bad course’.
Here at Atlantic National Golf Club, this is a fine layout with plenty of playability. So much so, soon after opening it was recognised by Golf Digest as one of the ‘Top 50 public courses in Florida’.
Like many courses in this area, water comes into play on many of the holes. To add to this, there is a huge number of strategically placed fairway bunkers making tee shots tricky. There is ample variety in the routing to keep things interesting for all levels of golfer.
Over the years the club has seen plenty of investment. Greens have been reshaped whilst the tee boxes and fairways have all been re-turfed with the highly respected celebration grass.
One thing which hasn’t changed though, is the fine Joe Lee design.
What is the best public golf course in West Palm Beach?
The best public golf course in West Palm Beach is the Champion Course at PGA National Resort. Originally a George and Tom Fazio design, it was more recently redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. It is also the host event to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.