The Park at West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach, FL, United States Public


In the current age of new elite private clubs and faraway destinatiion resorts, the opening of a public municipal-affiliated golf course in an urban area is major news—especially when Tiger Woods shows up for the grand opening, like he did in March 2023.

The Park is the latest in a growing trend of public/private partnerships that have fueled the redevelopment of numerous municipal courses around the country. The new course is set on the site of the former Dick Wilson-designed West Palm Beach Golf Course, one of the first notable designs of the post-World War II years when it opened in 1947 and long considered among the top municipal courses in the country.

That course closed in 2018 due to deteriorating playability and diminished interest and sat fallow for several years. Several plans for different uses of the land were proposed before a group of local citizens, led in part by Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, raised $56 million in individual donations to re-imagine the property as a community gathering space with amenities that include, in addition to golf, youth activities and educational programs, shopping and dining. Woods was one of the donors. (Note: the PGA of America is not connected to the project.)

The fundraisers and City of West Palm Beach hired Hanse and Wagner to create a new 18-hole course on the property’s existing site, located just off I-95 less than two miles south of the Palm Beach International Airport. Also included in the redevelopment is a state-of-the-art practice facility, a lighted nine-hole short course and a two-acre children’s-only golf zone.

Hanse and Wagner retained nothing of the Wilson course and originally envisioned using its deep, sandy terrain to craft holes that would look and play like the Sand Belt courses of Melbourne, Australia. In routing the course, however, they removed pockets of trees, palmetto and other vegetation—crucial ingredients of Sand Belt courses—that would have enhanced that effect.

“There are certain parts of the golf course where you get that Sand Belt feel—I hear the comparison a lot on 11, the par 3, and No. 6, the short par 4—but as Jim and I started to go through it we discussed how we were going to differentiate this golf course from some of the other things we’d done,” Hanse says. “We started to move away from the Sand Belt look and go more toward exposed sand areas because of the scale and width that we had.”

The width, exposure and sightlines that were created once the land was cleared came to define the design’s concept, specifically fairways of enormous breadth, greens that are shaped or oriented to receive shots from specific points in the fairways, and highly contoured putting surfaces.

“One of the cool things Tiger said when he was here, and he’s been by a few times, was this is a ‘one-ball course’—you’re not going to lose a ball out here,” Hanse says.

Read Derek Duncan's full piece here.


Holes 18
Price $220
Facility Type Public
Year Opened 2023
Designer Dick Wilson/(R) Mark McCumber, ASGCA/Gil Hanse & Jim Wagner (RM-2023)


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