You’ll really need to hang on to Frigyes Karinthy’s “six degrees of separation” theory in order to get a game at Floridian Yacht & Golf Club (now called Floridian National), for this was Huizenga’s retreat. Many people, well only the lucky few really, reckon that Gary Player’s Floridian should be right up at the top of Florida’s golf course rankings.
Only the lucky few got the nod from the billionaire ex-Blockbuster head honcho, Wayne Huizenga, to tee it up here at the Floridan. However, things may change as Huiizenga sold the property to Texan entrepreneur James Crane in April 2010.
The Floridian is set on the western bank of the St Lucie River and the property extends to more than 300 acres, which not only includes the Gary Player-designed golf course (redesigned by Tom Fazio in 2011), but also two helicopter landing pads, a number of guest cottages, a deepwater marina and an impressively large four-storey clubhouse. The course, which measures more than 7,000 yards from the tips, opened for play in 1996 and it is very much one of the Black Knight’s proudest North American endeavours.
The course, which is routed along part of the waterfront, is very much a Floridian design and there’s nothing other than some ultra-bold bunkering to set this course apart from numerous other Sunshine State layouts. Certainly the two best holes are the closing holes on both loops of nine, which use the waterside setting to good effect.
In 2005, Gary Player and his design team went back to the Floridian to remodel the 18th hole. Hurricane damage necessitated the building of a seawall which created an opportunity to move the home hole – from tee to green – nearer to the water. “We now have something that reminds me of the 18th at Pebble Beach, with the dogleg-left and its risk-reward opportunities,” commented Player after he’d played the remodelled 18th.
Club membership numbers were not a priority for Wayne Huizenga as the Floridian was his private playground and he and his wife were the only two members in the monthly medal. However, we suspect under Jim Crane’s stewardship, getting a game here will become a little easier and we feel sure there will be rather more than two Floridian members in the future.