As golfers Jack Nicklaus and Justin Thomas stood poised to cut the ribbon at Palm Beach Gardens’ newest golf course this past November, all eyes turned overhead. Spectators watched as two Navy SEALs parachuted from a plane and floated down from the skies, landing next to Nicklaus and Thomas at Panther National’s first tee as the national anthem boomed through speakers. The exciting stunt was a fitting beginning for a golf course that, by many accounts, is destined to be one of the top private courses in the state.
Located at Avenir off Northlake Boulevard, Panther National sits on 2,400 acres of land and, in addition to golf, features a club and spa, pools and cabanas, tennis and pickleball courts, over 10 miles of nature trails, and a private residential community. To celebrate the opening, co-designers Nicklaus and Thomas were joined by Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Lexi Thompson, Erik van Rooyen, and Morgan Hoffmann for a friendly three-hole competition as guests sipped cocktails and enjoyed the show.
To create the 18-hole golf course Nicklaus and Thomas envisioned, the original land needed to be completely reshaped. “People asked, ‘How did you find a piece of property like this in Florida?’” says Nicklaus. “The answer is, we didn’t.” The project required almost 2 million cubic yards of earth to be moved to shape the links-style championship course that features huge elevation changes and beach-like bunkers.
Nicklaus has designed more than 300 courses, but for Thomas, this was a first. “It’s pretty cool to have your first golf course design be with one of the greatest of all time,” says Thomas.
Panther National also offers a par 3, nine-hole course with three different tee options ranging from 90 yards to 150 yards. Designed to be equally as spectacular as the championship course, the “Panther9” short course includes an island green that replicates the famous seventeenth hole at TPC Sawgrass. The golf experience at Panther National is rounded out with a performance center, a practice range, and a short game practice area. “Players can expect the best possible golf experience,” promises Nicklaus.