The private Old Palm Golf Club hides its elite clientele away in sunny southern Florida.
There are public golf courses. There are private golf courses. And, there are very private golf courses. Old Palm Golf Club is the latter.
Hidden away in Palm Beach Gardens not too far from Florida’s gold epicenter at PGA National, Old Palm is a private community built around an elite golf course. On a recent media trip, a handful of golf writers had the opportunity to sample the course and see how the 1% swings.
Old Palm Golf Club sits on more than 650 acres, with individual estates surrounding an 18 hole, par 72 golf course. The course is only available to resident members, but they are welcome to bring guests onto the property.
Home prices start just north of $1 million, with various models to choose from to allow customization. Some of Old Palm’s more exclusive residents took said customization more seriously than others — with some houses along the links costing more than $15 million.
Of course, I wasn’t there to inspect the local housing market. I was there to play golf. All-time great Raymond Floyd designed Old Palm’s 7,401 yard course, including a special 19th hole to settle draws. The work must’ve been convenient for Floyd, since he’s a resident at Old Palm – along with current tour pro Lee Westwood.
Floyd and the Old Palm crew took pride in making certain the course was environmentally friendly. More than 90% of Old Palm’s irrigation is reclaimed water, and the Audubon International Society awarded the course Gold Sanctuary Status for looking after Florida’s feathered friends.
That’ll make the PETA crowd happy, but I wanted to get in loop and sample the links that so few from the outside world get to enjoy. I was joined on my round by Assistant Golf Professional Kyle Quinn and caddie Kinsey Snider – a top shelf player in this own right. That’s one of the advantages of playing an establishment like Old Palm. Golf there can be more than recreational. It can be educational.
The grounds include the Old Palm Golf Studio – a training facility under the guidance of Director of Golf Bud Taylor and elite coach Mark Hackett. The training set up includes three full practice holes modeled on holes played on the actual 18 hole run.
Throughout my round, Quinn and Snider offered tips on how to play the individual holes — and specific pointers to improve my game when I asked. Neither were intrusive.
The course conditions were immaculate, and the holes challenging without seeming deliberately intimidating. If I had any critique of the course at all, it seemed lonely out there. I played a Sunday afternoon with my threesome, and the tees were literally empty. It’s maybe because it was a Sunday – or because I played Old Palm a little out of season. Maybe the residents think differently that I do because, if I drooped seven or eight figures for a house on a PGA-level golf course, I’d sure as hell be out on that first tee on a gorgeous Florida afternoon.
It’s a little unsettling to have a private course for a day. Nobody wants to wait three foursomes deep on a tee, but golf is a social game. When nobody is out there playing but you and yours, it’s a little too quiet.
At the time I played Old Palm, there were still some lots available and some homes unsold, but that gap is closing fast. I’m sure once the community is at full capacity, the course will get a full workout.
As for my round at Old Palm, I had a special and rejuvenating day of golf — all while seeing close up how the other half lives and plays.