The 18 holes at Old Marsh Golf Club lie at the centre of a 450-acre private residential development where the fairways and Mother Nature blend together in complete harmony with the wetland surroundings. The Sandhill Crane on the club logo further reinforces the connection with Nature.
Designed by Pete Dye in the mid 1980s, the course has been highly ranked in every “Best in Florida State” list since it first opened and it has a well earned reputation of one of the best new courses in the whole country.
Old Marsh was renovated in 2004 by its esteemed architect to maintain its playability in the modern era and the fairways here are as challenging to play today as they were over twenty years ago, before advances in golf equipment threatened to render many courses obsolete.
The layout can in no way be described as tight but golfers who do stray too far from the fairways will find the marshlands unforgiving so the message is clear, stick to the closely cropped grass.
The short, par four, 5th is considered the signature hole, requiring a second shot to the green where the pin position is marked by a rock on top of a protecting mound – not many modern tracks come with old-fashioned eccentricities such as blind approach shots built in! You could play this hole many times and never fully figure it out. Ideally, your tee shot should be laid up 120 yards short of the mound, leaving a full short iron into the green. The wind prevails from the southeast, so the left side of the green is the safe option. A pond lurks beyond the green so don’t use too much club.
The club maintains a connection with the early traditions of the game through the famous Auchterlonies and many items from the family’s antique club collection are on display in the clubhouse.
A friend in the locality once told me that Old Marsh is sarcastically known as “All Marsh” by many golfers who live in the Palm Beach area. This course is dead flat, unattractive and as forgettable as an ex-girlfriend. The houses that line many of the fairways certainly don’t add any beauty. The wetlands are the most dominant feature on essentially every hole. You’re either on the fairway, or you’re in the marsh. The greens lack personality which is actually a good way to describe the entire golf course.