By Brian Biggane
Two par-3 golf courses along the A1A corridor in South Palm Beach County have been identified as being “among the world’s best” in a feature story in the September/October issue of Golf Magazine.
St. Andrews, a private club featuring three holes along the Intracoastal Waterway near Gulf Stream, and the Palm Beach Par-3, between the ocean and Intracoastal in the town of Palm Beach, were among 25 “exemplary” courses on a list that included Augusta National, Pine Valley in New Jersey and Bandon Dunes in Oregon.
“Even to be on the same page with those kind of courses, it’s quite a compliment,” St. Andrews head pro Amy Carver said.
“We’re a municipal course,” Palm Beach head pro Tony Chateauvert said, “so we’re accessible to anyone who wants to play. Augusta National, Pine Valley, you can’t get on those courses.”
Recognition is nothing new for the Palm Beach Par-3, which has been ranked both among the best and “most fun to play” by Golf Digest.
Designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee, the course opened in 1961 but fell into disrepair before four-time major champion Raymond Floyd oversaw a redesign in 2009.
“The town of Palm Beach recognized what we had and put a lot of money into it,” Chateauvert said. “Then six years ago we redid the clubhouse with a great al fresco restaurant. So now we’re a destination golf course. People come from all over the world to play it.”
Former Gulf Stream resident Alice Dye, with help from design partner and husband Pete Dye, built the St. Andrews course in 1973 and renovated it in 2013.
“It’s like a little hidden gem,” Carver said. “There are people who drive up and down A1A every day who have no idea we’re even here.
“Most people who come out here are surprised. It’s under 2,000 yards, and they go, ‘Eh, this is going to be easy,’ and it’s not. It’s a challenge. You have to know how to score.
“Most people can’t hit 18 greens, and on the short shots the wind makes an even bigger difference, because you’re hitting a lofted club, and with more loft it’s going to go higher and be even more subject to the wind.”
The Palm Beach Par-3 plays at more than 2,000 yards from the back tees, with No. 4 at 196 yards and No. 5 at 212.
Still, Chateauvert said, the course lives up to its motto: Friendly, Fast and Fun.
“People come off the 18th hole and they’re always in a good mood, they’re having fun, it didn’t beat them up too much, and that’s what golf is supposed to be. Too many golf courses are just too difficult for the average golfer. Par-3 courses, be it the Palm Beach Par-3, or St. Andrews, are much more fun for the average golfer.”
Not to mention, Carver said, a test for even the best.
“At any level it’s a challenge,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re a new golfer, a scratch handicap. And sometimes for the better golfer it’s even more of a challenge, because you’re thinking, ‘How many birdies can I make?’
“Then they come out here and it’s like, ‘Wow.’ Any golfer can improve their game out here.”
St. Andrews has also recently been recognized as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” by Audubon International. The program “provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat, and protect natural resources,” according to the announcement.