North Palm Beach resident Jack Nicklaus, along with sons Jack II and Gary,
play an exhibition round on the layout the Golden Bear renovated, redesigned
NORTH PALM BEACH, FLA.–Friday was the day Jack Nicklaus got to officially unwrap his gift.
Golf legend and preeminent course designer Jack Nicklaus, who has spent parts of the last five decades as a North Palm Beach resident, was on hand Friday for the official grand opening of North Palm Beach Country Club to play his first round of golf on the layout that he renovated and redesigned as a gift to the community that he calls home. Well, the gift did have a price tag: $1.
“This was my way to give a little something back to the community and the people who have given me so much,” said Nicklaus. “This has been a fun project, and one of which I am very proud.”
More than 500 guests, village residents and local officials, including Mayor David Norris, joined in the celebration of this new Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. The Golden Bear, who volunteered his design services to the community he and his family have called home for over 40 years, joined sons and fellow residents Jack II and Gary in an 18-hole exhibition round to explain the philosophy behind the redesign of the venerable track.
“The course features holes that move both directions, with plenty of room to drive your ball,” said Mike Gray, head golf professional at North Palm Beach Country Club. “The green settings are diverse and challenging, offering many options to chip, pitch, or putt your ball. Jack has designed a ‘must play’ golf course on a beautiful piece of property.”
While Nicklaus has been involved in 253 of Nicklaus Design’s 310 golf courses open for play worldwide, North Palm Beach Country Club represents only the second municipal golf course he has had the opportunity to design. The first was Breckenridge Golf Club in Colorado, which opened over
20 years ago to rave reviews and remains one of the state’s most successful public-access courses. Breckenridge features 27 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf–the last nine being built and opened in 2001 to accommodate the demand for play at the course.
The original North Palm Beach Country Club layout was designed in 1926 by Seth Raynor, and was first renovated in 1989. Construction on the Nicklaus renovation began April 24, 2006, and included a new irrigation system, total re-grassing of all playing surfaces, new green construction, improved fairway surface drainage, and extensive redesign work.
“It’s a labor of love in many ways,” said Nicklaus. “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.”
Since opening for play in November 2006, the club has increased from 350 to 500 members with a waiting list of 80 residents. Golf memberships now include both residents and non-residents, and the course is also available to the public.
“The Greatest physical asset that we have in the Village of North Palm Beach is the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course,” said North Palm Beach Vice Mayor Ed Eissey. “It will be the ‘shining star’ of the golf world, not only in Palm Beach County, but the state of Florida, and throughout the nation. We should be very proud that Mr. Jack Nicklaus allowed us to use his talents and his name on this project.”
North Palm Beach Country Club is one of 18 Nicklaus Design courses to open in 2006 and the company expects to open 32 additional courses in 2007. Nicklaus Design is considered the world leader in golf course design, with 56 courses under construction, design or development in 37 different countries. The firm already has courses open for play in 29 countries and 38 states.
For more than 35 years, the mission of the Nicklaus Companies has been to enhance the golf experience, and to bring to the national and international consumer golf-related businesses and services that mirror the high standards established in the career and life of Jack Nicklaus. These services include golf-course design, the development of golf and real estate communities, and the marketing and licensing of golf products and services. At least 50 Nicklaus Design courses have been ranked in various national or international Top-100 lists.