Few golfers know the Southeast Florida golf scene as well as Joe Steranka. A passionate golfer who loves a good cigar and knows a thing or two about wine, Steranka served for a quarter century in senior management positions at the PGA of America, the world’s largest working sports organization that’s based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was the CEO of the PGA for seven years before he retired.
He currently works as a consultant, growing (and playing) the game he loves.
Here are Joe’s picks for the top 5 golf holes in Southeast Florida.
#17, PGA National Resort & Spa, The Champion Course
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
The 17th is the final hole on The Champion Course’s intimidating trifecta of holes – 15, 16 and 17 – known as among the most demanding three-hole stretches on the PGA TOUR. Water guards the front of this par 3 that plays slightly downhill – the card reads 172 yards from the tips. A bunker behind the green leaves a difficult shot to a fairly narrow green that slopes towards the water. Accurate club selection is a must with a bail out area to the left, as there is more water to the right.
Throw in some swirling winds, and it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to win The Honda Classic or just playing for a few bucks … gimme a 3 here anytime!
#18, Trump National Doral Miami (Blue Monster)
This famous finishing hole was a staple for years on the PGA TOUR. When you tee it up on this demanding par 4, the premium is on a solid and straight tee shot, with the water all down the left side and Bermuda rough and palms protecting the right side off the tee.
The tee shot is to a narrow landing area, which leaves you a long second shot over the lake guarding the long green. Winds can play a major role in your club selection – for example, in March, the hole plays into a strong right to left wind that’s in your face.
I’ve made a par or two here over the years, and have walked away with a big smile! You just want to stay away from a big number, which is so easy on this one.
#2, The Breakers Rees Jones Course
West Palm Beach, Florida
To say that this par 4 is challenging, is a huge understatement. Off the tee on this sharp dogleg left, you must hug the right side of the fairway. Yes, a draw can cut off a few yards, but don’t get greedy because the trees on the left can come in to play. Water to the left of the green will gobble up pulled approach shots, so favor the right side on the approach. The green sits on a peninsula, with a large bunker behind. Play this hole smart, and you can make par.
#6, Seminole Golf Club
Juno Beach, Florida
One of the great holes in the world on one of the great golf courses in the world. Ben Hogan used to practice at this classic Donald Ross design every spring to prepare for the Masters. The par-4 sixth was his favorite hole on the course – a fade is required off the tee to avoid the deep left bunker. The second shot requires precision yardage, as the green is raised and well bunkered, with deep, penal traps that can ruin any player’s round.
#9, Jupiter Hills Club (Hills Course)
I suppose I’m a bit biased, because Jupiter Hills is my home club – and home to the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in May – but the two layouts (Hills Course and Village Course) are fabulous. I love the ninth on the Hills Course because of its sheer challenge and incredible view from the tee. This is an uphill par 3 that can extend to more than 200 yards of carry over a wasteland of sand and scrub. Trust me … you are not thinking “birdie” on the tee!