Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club head golf professional, Andy McMechan.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Steve Pike
The Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club is undergoing some significant changes.
The most visible is the renovation to its golf course. Coming next is a $30 million enhancement project that will include construction of a new yacht clubhouse, new floating docks to allow for vessels up to 130 feet long, a new outdoor waterfront entertainment patio and new pool and additional outdoor dining venues.
Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club members this past April overwhelmingly approved the marina project (funding for the golf course renovation was separate). That same month, the members elected Dr. Patricia Reese as their first female Commodore.
The private Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club has approximately 485 members.
The marina and golf course projects, said Michael Shanley, the club’s membership director, “is very important to our current members as well as new generations.
“This [project] positions us to meet the evolving needs of our members now and for years to come,’’ Shanley said.
It all begins with the 7,116-yard, par 72 golf course. Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, with the legendary Sam Snead as its first professional, the course was redesigned in the 1980s by Joe Lee. It was redesigned in 2003 as a Jack Nicklaus Signature course. This time around, the Golden Bear, who lives in North Palm Beach, returned to reshape the greens back to their original contours and dimensions, as well as expand some tee boxes and work on the bunkering.
“We completely renovated every bunker on the golf course,’’ said Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club head golf professional Andy McMechan, a Boca Raton native who has been the club’s head professional since 2010.
“One of the goals Mr. Nicklaus wanted to accomplish was to see every fairway bunker from the tee and to see every greenside bunker from the fairway.’’
McMechan, who graduated from Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton and Stetson University in DeLand, came to Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club from Boca Raton Resort & Club, where he worked his way from outside attendant in 1994 to director of golf in 2007.
“This (Royal Palm) was a great opportunity for me,’’ McMechan said. “Being from Boca Raton, I’ve played this course since I was 12 years old. But it was a much different club then.’’
It will be a different club again, particularly visually, not only because of the bunkers, but also because of the landscaping. Many of the natural grasses have been replaced by more colorful native plants and shrubs. In addition, approximately 100 palm trees that were marked for destruction as part of the marina clubhouse renovation were moved to line the fairways.
“We were able to move 110 full-size, mature trees onto the golf course that have been on property for 50 or 60 years and we got them for the moving price,’’ McMechan said. “They really add to the look of the course.’’