Strokes of Genius

Insiders at three popular golf courses share their tips and tricks so you can play your best round yet

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PGA National Champion Course is a must-play for any avid golfer.

PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens

The confidant: Randy Raimondi, head golf professional

Game plan: I like to take the aggressive approach on this course. However, if you have trouble with your tee shots, sometimes it’s better to play conservatively to try and score well.

Rookie mistake: Playing the Honda tees. The course is tough enough from the blue tees at 6,300. Playing it from over 7,000 is crazy for some players.

Most treacherous hole: Sixteen. The key is to hit the fairway with your tee shot. You have to hit it far enough to have good yardage to the green—but it gets narrow the farther you get, and the fairway is a must.

Greatest potential for ball loss:
Fifteen. With the wind on this hole, it can be challenging to hit the green. Long and left is the best bailout.

Personal fave: Eighteen is a great risk-reward hole. The landing area off the tee is huge, and if you are a long ball hitter, you have a decent chance of going for the green in two. If not, you have to give yourself a good layup to a narrowing fairway to have a good chance at a birdie.

Note: Open only to members, their guests, and those staying at the resort

The Country Club Golf Course, North Palm Beach

The confidant: Allan Bowman, head golf professional

Rookie mistake: Selecting the wrong club. Unlike most golf courses in South Florida, we have lots of elevation change here, and there is always a breeze. Players must factor that and wind strength into their club choice.

Most treacherous hole: Sixteen is a long par 4 and the number one–rated handicap hole on the golf course. Avoid the bunkers on your drive. Avoid the pond and play conservatively on your approach shot (hit short left). Be happy if you make a 5.

Greatest potential for ball loss: If you avoided losing a ball to the ponds on par-3 holes 7 and 17, you have done well. Be sure to pick the correct club, factor in the wind, and hit it solid.

Fair warning: This Jack Nicklaus design gives golfers the opportunity for risk-reward on most holes.  If you play aggressively and miss, you will pay a penalty.         

Abacoa Golf Club, Jupiter

The confidants: Robbie Dew, director of operations, and Rob Young, director of golf

Game plan: Play aggressively. This course has generous landing areas off the tee and big enough greens, so being aggressive will give you the best opportunity to score.

Critical club: Driver. The course is not short—it’s open, so the wind can affect your drive. And it’s not extremely penal off the tee, so you need to take advantage of that with the driver.

Rookie mistake: Hitting your approach shot above the hole. When you approach from above the hole, your putts will be quick and can get away from you. Approaching shots positioned below the hole will give you the advantage here.

Most treacherous hole: Seven takes you over water twice. Bite off only what you know you can off the tee, then play to the left-center of the green on your second. Par is a good score on this hole.

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