The Sunshine State - Where PGA Tour Players Live

By: David Wood

Dozens of PGA Tour players call the stretch of the Sunshine State between Jupiter and West Palm Beach home. Known as the world's most exclusive golf address, the area provides a convenient location to lessen the burden of a demanding Tour schedule and an opportunity to practice in Florida's year-round warmth.

Old Palm Golf Course

It comes as no surprise that three of the world's top ranked players - former world No. 1 Lee Westwood, 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and 2011 Masters' winner Charl Schwartzel - have relocated to Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens. The private club is now home to these players and their families while staying Stateside for PGA Tour events. They join golf Hall-of-Fame member, course designer and honorary club chairman, Raymond Floyd - as well as 1991 Open champion, Ian Baker-Finch - as full-time residents.

All have purchased homes around Old Palm's 7,400-yard, Floyd-designed golf course and its 33-acre practice facility to sharpen their games. One of the most complete golf instruction and training facilities in the U.S., the Old Palm Golf Studio features a double-ended range, TrackMan and V-1 equipped hitting bay, short-game area and three regulation practice holes - a par-3, -4, and -5 - where golfers can replicate every shot on the par-72 course.

When asked what it takes to get in the proper state of mind before playing a tournament, Schwartzel, who has won four times since moving in, notes "a relaxed environment is key. I get that at Old Palm and I can feel myself improving when I use the state-of-the-art practice facilities to work on all aspects of my game."

Situated on 650 acres, Old Palm prides itself on the intimate character of the community, which has no more than 320 planned residences. The low-density master plan allows for attentive service and privacy. Westwood, who has had one victory since relocating here and has settled in nicely, adds, "Old Palm is the finest club in the Palm Beaches offering world-class golf amenities, exclusivity and kinship among residents that makes me feel comfortable at home and when I am traveling."

For those who like to experience all South Florida has to offer, but aren't quite ready to move next door to Ryder Cup heroes and major champions, look no further than PGA National Resort & Spa. Located directly across the street from Old Palm on PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, few destinations have a golf pedigree as storied as PGA National and its Champion Course, which has hosted the 1983 Ryder Cup, 1987 PGA Championship and nearly two decades of the Senior PGA Championship.

No. 18 at The Palmer

Currently, PGA National hosts the Honda Classic, the first stop on the Tour's "Florida Swing." Recent winners include Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington. The Champion is also home to the famous "Bear Trap" - hole Nos. 15, 16 and 17 where designer Jack Nicklaus famously said, "It should be won or lost right here."

PGA National boasts four other layouts, including The Fazio, The Palmer, The Squire and The Estates. The resort recently underwent a $100 million revitalization and boasts 379 rooms, a spa, a 33,000-square-foot health-and-racquet club, and seven on-site restaurants and lounges.

Another South Florida golf destination worth the trip is PGA Village in Port St. Lucie. Located an hour north of the Palm Beaches, PGA Village is home to 54 holes - 36 from Tom Fazio and 18 by Pete Dye. Owned and operated by the PGA of America, this is the "home course" for the 27,000 men and women PGA professionals in the U.S.

Annika with Students

The PGA Museum of Golf, near the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance, is where you can trace the history of the game with complimentary admission to see golf's four major championship trophies. The museum features a Speaker Series; recent speakers include 1958 PGA champion Dow Finsterwald and master teaching professional Bob Toski.

Another two hours north on Florida's Turnpike is Orlando, home to Annika Sorenstam's ANNIKA Academy, a golf instruction and fitness facility at Orlando's Reunion Resort. The academy offers an opportunity to learn from the same teachers who coached the native of Sweden during her storied career. Lead instructor, Henri Reis, has been Sorenstam's golf coach since 1987, and Annika's personal trainer, Kai Fusser, teaches cardio and core-strengthening exercises designed to generate more power on the course.

One of only 15 certified Callaway Performance Centers in the country, the academy offers various corporate packages, individualized golf instruction, personalized fitness programs, club-fitting and even opportunities to play with Sorenstam.

South Florida is accessible via three international airports: Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Palm Beach (PBI).

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