When it was redesigned and the gates thrown open to the public in 2006, the 18-hole layout at North Palm Beach became only the second Nicklaus Signature municipal course to open for play in all of the USA.
For the Golden Bear, who has lived in the area since 1970, it was his way of giving something back to the local golfing community so he charged only $1 for his services.
The upgrading work involved the installation of a new irrigation system, the total re-grassing of all playing surfaces, the construction of new greensites and improvements to fairway surface drainage.
In September 2014, the course was included in Florida Department of State’s Historic Golf Trail program, celebrating a golf heritage that began in the 1890s and featuring historic, publicly accessible golf courses that can still be played today.
“With nearly 1,300 golf facilities in the state, employing more than 167,000 Floridians and generating $13.8 billion in economic impact, golf is a huge component of Florida’s overall tourism industry,” said Will Seccombe, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA at the launch of the initiative.
Jack Nicklaus commented as follows:
"North Palm Beach Country Club was built in the late 1920s and was one of the last courses designed by Seth Raynor. Since that time, most, if not all, of Seth Raynor's influence has disappeared. When I was asked to design a golf course, I was asked to do a course that would fit this piece of property, probably less than 125 acres in total. But the property was pure sand, with different varieties of sand, white, gray and orange”.
“I felt the property deserved a strong golf course from the back tees, a very user-friendly and forgiving golf course from the member and senior tees, and an enjoyable golf experience for the women. We ended up with a par 71, playing just under 7,100 yards from the back tees. For the first 180 to 200 yards off the member tees it is very wide, so there is plenty of room off the tee, thus making it very user friendly for the seniors and members”.“The better golfer you are and the farther you hit the ball, the more you have to play golf. The greens have nice movement to them and there are several lakes on the golf course to add to the strategy and overall look”.
North Palm Beach is well worth the visit. An original Seth Raynor design from the 1920s it had gone through multiple iterations until Jack Nicklaus essentially blew it up and redesigned in 2006. With only 125 odd acres to work with he was somewhat landlocked, but did a nice job and he did it for $1! Nicklaus felt it was his way of giving back to the community. To the course:
There are 5 sets of tees with the tips over 7k and the next a more playable 6300. One interesting design feature is as you get closer to the green there are fewer places to hide a bad golf shot. The first is 400 yard par 4 pretty straight away that invites you to the party. The 2nd is a short par 4 and a pretty good birdie oppty, but beware of the fairway bunkers on both sides that say “au contraire”. The 3rd is a what you see you get par 5 but be wary of the water hazard on the left side that can swallow your second and in my case 3rd shot as well. The 4th is long difficult par 4, where the approach has multiple, non-water and bunker challenges to clear. It si the number one handicap hole. The 6th is s good birdie oppty, especially if you can clear the right bunker and stay left of the water hazard. The right side is the most conducive approach shot. The 7th and 17th are the required Florida par 3s over water to a well-protected green. They are opposite hand. The par 4 8th is a dogleg right and it will require to good golf shots to secure a par. Off the tee the question is how big is your appetite to clear the water hazard. Too big results in a splash, not big enough and you will be through the fairway and perhaps into one of the bunkers on the left.
The backside starts off with a short hole with water right and two fairway bunkers in the middle of the fairway in the landing zone. Miss the above and it is a birdie hole. The 11th is a short par 4 S shaped hole. Favor the right side, but you must be long enough to clear the bunker to give yourself a green light. The 13th is one of the easier holes on the course, a reachable par 5 dogleg right that has a great landing area on the right to set up your hero shot, all carry over the right water hazard. If you don’t have a hero shot be aware that the fairway tapers down to just about nothing the closer you get to the green. The 14th, conversely, is one of the tougher holes on the course. Big dogleg left with a big ass bunker on the inside elbow. At over 400 yards there is not a lot of margin for error. The 16th is even tougher at 444 yards it is an S shape and trees squeeze you in from the right and bunkers from the left. If those don’t do you in watch out for the greenside water hazard right. The 18th looks pretty straight forward on the card, but Nicklaus users bunkers to compress the fairway on the left and ends it with a mammoth bunker on the right greenside.
A good course and a super value. I have not mentioned the greens, they appeared fair but they were tricky. Not tricked up, but difficult to read. I highly recommend North Palm Beach
I asked a long-time member if he remembered Seth Raynor’s original design before Jack Nicklaus blew it up to design a completely new layout. “There wasn’t much Raynor left when they hired Nicklaus,” he replied. “The course had already been ‘modernized’ (by Mark McCumber he thought) and the members didn’t care much for it.”
They seem to like Nicklaus’s work very much and I am inclined to agree with them. Jack even managed to re-install some Raynor ideas, e.g. a Redan green at #7, a cape hole at #8.
But the common claim that Nicklaus favors holes that bend to the right because of his fade was not in evidence here. Though holes 8, 10, and 13 do favor a fade from the tee, holes 3, 4, 12 and 14 curve in the opposite direction. Each has a definite line of charm as do some of the straight holes, most notably # 11, a short par 4 with a sea of fairway bunkers that will have the player scratching her/his head on the tee. Nicklaus has required an aerial approach on a number of holes, but there are just as many where the running game is in play. The greens are nicely contoured as well.
I thought the biggest negative was the conditioning. Apparently the powers that be agree as the course will be regrassed in the summer of 2018.
North Palm is pricey compared to many of its public access neighbors, but worth every penny of the premium.
I agree with the earlier review that NPB is as good as any course in Florida when it's playing firm and fast, but it just another muni course when it's slow and overplayed by the public. Can still feel the original Seth Raynor routing and a couple of his holes, but it's now a Nicklaus course and he did a great job with the bunkers and greens.