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 endeavors.
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, under Jim Crane’s stewardship, Tom Fazio was drafted in to facelift the course in 2011. We suspect 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.
Floridian National is another high-end club in Southeast Florida that has an impressive list of professional golfers who hold memberships. When you can essentially sail your yacht to the back of the clubhouse, you quickly understand why there are so many Rolls Royce’s at the front of the clubhouse.
The course was originally laid out by Gary Player, but in recent years Tom Fazio has remodeled the entire layout and added his signature architecture.
There was no money spared to create a golf course with the highest standards of conditioning and you simply couldn’t imagine better surfaces to play on. There is plenty of width from the tee and each hole progressively gets tougher as you approach the greens.
From an architecture perspective, there is a healthy variety of tough par 4s, reachable par 5s, impressive integration of water features and drivable par 4s on each side. While a few holes looked the same, for example the dog-leg left par 5s that had the same bunkering, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and give compliments to the Fazio team for creating a very attractive and rewarding course to play.
Players will love the strategic drivable par 4 17th hole that plays straight towards the water, before you embark on the epic dog-leg left 18th hole that hugs the coastline and feels just like the last hole at famed Pebble Beach. ‘Floridian National’ as it’s now known also boasts a newly created par 3 course which just adds to the enjoyment of this outstanding club.