The Champions Club Newly Renovated

The Champions ClubThere is no hotter name in golf course architecture than Tom Fazio. Nobody else has his name on 14 of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses in America.

And nobody else offers a place we can all play with the combination of quiet, quality and value along the Treasure Coast than Fazio’s Champions Club, located between Stuart and Hobe Sound, just off US-1.

There might be no other architect in the world who can make golf magic from the diverse pieces of real estate that Tom Fazio has. With such varied layouts to his credit as Shadow Creek and The Quarry out West, Dallas National and Karsten Creek in the Southwest, Victoria National in Indiana, Caves Valley and Hudson National in the Northeast, Wild Dunes and Wade Hampton in the Caro-linas, Black Diamond Ranch, Pine Barrens and the West Course at the John’s Island Club in Florida, the South Florida native is considered by many as the resident genius in the design game. 

His imagination is obviously at work again in the shot-making experiences you’ll find at The Champion’s Club, named by Golf Magazine as one of the Top Ten New Public Courses when it opened in 1994, and the first public course awarded Audubon Signature Sanctuary status. 

Now the course’s Tifdwarf Bermuda has matured into a Fazio’s design that’s surrounded by a beautiful nature preserve. The Champions Club features no residential construction, instead offering golf as close as it was “meant to be played.”

Fazio’s been known to move a little dirt in his designs, but this one’s very close to being one of his most “natural” works, around and along 275 acres of protected wetlands and nature preserve. Already a rarity in Florida golf with no homes encroaching on play, the Champions Club is even more unique in that no more homes will be built anywhere near the golf course to preserve the natural setting. This “everglades” ambience is enhanced with sandhill cranes, otters, foxes and deer you’re likely to see during your tour through this choice piece of Florida countryside.

The Champions Club

Course evaluators and other architects have described Fazio’s style as one with “pizzazz” and “sizzle,” yet while they look hard, they play easy. The fairways at The Champions Club are wider and a bit more forgiving than they look off the tee, and the seemingly “forced” approach to some holes aren’t quite as forced as they look, with many openings to attack the pins, offering an eminently playable course for golfers of all skill levels. But pay attention to the ProTrac GPS system in each cart, because the slight elevations of many of the greens are as apt to bounce the ball back toward you as they are to release onto the greens. In layman’s terms, don’t be too short.

Maybe the most important decision you’ll make before you tee it up at The Champions Club might come before you take the head cover off that driver. The friendly golf shop staff will be glad to recommend which tees will best suit your game, because this layout is significantly different from its 6,800-yard tips, with a 72.8 rating and 135 slope, and its 6,335-yard blue tees (70.5/128) to its 5,614-yard white tees with a very playable 117 slope and one less par-5.

Another intriguing aspect is the variety of hole-types at The Champions Club. The par-3s are NOT the four highest handicapped holes on the course and will likely require you to hit four different clubs off the tees. The shortest of them all, the 148-yard-from-the-tips sixth hole, might be the most picturesque, and possibly the most treacherous, as you’re forced to fly the ball over a nature preserve to a split-level green angled away from the golfer’s left to right.

The Champions Club

There’s a wonderful flow to The Champions Club that often alternates tough tests with potential stroke-savers. The reachable par-5 fourth is sandwiched between two 400-yard par 4s. Yet there’s also a trio of par 4s that play less than 350 yards from the middle tees, including the 314-yard 11th, that offer easier birdie opportunities. The par-5 13th begins a great three-hole stretch on the back nine that wraps around a lake. And the 18th might also be the course’s toughest test, a long par 5 with water running the length of the hole down the right hand side.

The practice green is brand new and the recently renovated, double-ended practice facility is roomy enough for your entire group to work on its game. And if you see balls coming back at you from the other end, chances are they’re from players taking advantage of the great instructional programs from the on-site PGA professionals that offer excellent one-on-one or group lessons. The fully-stocked pro shop has all the latest club lines, including some to rent for a round, and even offers club repair with a quick turnaround. The snack bar in the functional clubhouse makes breakfast and lunches to order and has everything else you’ll need to make your nature hike/round of golf complete. But make no mistake, the Fazio layout is the star here.

Located 30 minutes north of the West Palm Beach Airport, on the ocean side of I-95 at Exit 101, The Champions Club is a one-of-a-kind trip into an earlier time in Florida golf, where undisturbed tranquility prevailed. Its breathtaking natural beauty and surprising peacefullness might actually distract you a bit the first time you play, so many golfers are making repeat trips. Single year memberships are also now available for golfers in all counties in the area. You can book advance tee times and check for specials at their Web site, www.golfchampionsclub.com, or call (772) 283-1500.


 

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