Architect: Dick Wilson (1947), Restored by Mark McCumber (2009)
Yardage: 7,002 Yards, Par 72
My Quick Review: Don't let the word 'muni' scare you away -- West Palm Beach GC was a long-time PGA tour stop and is one of the best values in the country.
If you like courses that play firm and fast, then WPB is for you. Of the 75 or so courses I've played in South Florida, only one (which must have a massive maintenance budget) had a maintenance meld that encouraged the ground-game like WPB. Sure, the fairway grass is a bit thin in spots, the amount of sand in the bunkers is inconsistent, and the greens are a tad slow, but I would happily choose the conditioning at WPB over so many of the over-watered, over-manicured, bright green courses for which Florida is known.
|Clubhouse as seen from Putting Green|
The routing is adequate -- easily walkable and with fairly effective use of the limited elevation on property, though there were a few too many holes that moved back-and-forth.
Green shaping is a highlight of the golf course, though green contouring is not.
|Tee Marker with WPB Logo|
Hole 2: Par 5, 588 Yards
After a fairly benign opening hole, the golf course shows it teeth with the very long par-5 2nd. The strong wind blows into the golfer from the left, making the fairly wide fairway difficult to find. To find the fairway, one must aim at the bunker on the left and hope his ball blows into the centre of the fairway, and not so far that it finds the waste area on the right. The golfer willing to sacrifice distance for accuracy can choose to hit his tee shot to the widest part of the fairway short of the bunkering on the left, but this will leave a second shot in the 350 yard area.
After a good tee shot, the second shot is as simple as any shot on the course. Lots of width, just lay up to the yardage you want -- the second shot is the weak spot on this hole.
|The 2nd at the 2nd|
|Approach to the 2nd|
|2nd from Behind Green|
Though the 4th is long on the card and plays slightly uphill, it is the first time the player will have the wind with him -- downwind and with the firm fairways, this hole will play fairly short. The 4th fairway is extremely wide. The bunkering is a bit unusual, with an out-of-play bunker guarding the beginning of the fairway on the right, and a bunker on the left guarding the ideal angle into the green.
|Approach to the 4th -- Note kicker on the right|
|4th from Behind|
Routed in the same direction as the 4th, the 5th also plays straight downwind and is driveable by the bombers. For those willing to lay-back, short of the bunkers that juts into the fairway 80 yards short of the green, the fairway is extremely wide. Golfers hoping to leave only a pitch into the green must challenge the narrow portion of the fairway right of the bunker. The hole would be greatly improved if at least one of those front bunkers were removed to further entice players to try to drive the green.
|5th Fairway - Note the Massive Width Short of the Bunker|
|5th Approach Short of Bunker|
|5th from Behind Green|
As a golfer who has seen many golf courses, when I see a 225 yard par-3 (200 yard from the member's tee), I expect it play downhill and/or downwind. Not so at WPB! The 7th is a brute of a hole, playing uphill, into the wind, with massively deep bunkering and the most contoured green on the course!
|Deep Bunkers Guard the Front of the 7th Green|
|7th from Behind-Right|
The 10th tee shot is a lesson in simple, strategic design -- challenge the bunker on the right for the shorter approach with the best angle, or play away from the bunker to the wide part of the fairway and leave a more difficult second shot. If the bunker on the right is carried (about 280) yards, the player will find a significant downslope, which would make this par-5 look silly, leaving nothing more than 150 yards into the green.
|Second shot on the 10th from Top of Hill -- Bunker on the Right is Bizarrely Placed|
|10th from 11th Green|
The 12th is a great example of a hole with the 'bunkers everywhere' appearance. Though the bunkers are staggered, and some of the bunkering is actually waste area some 400 yards from the tee, it appears as though there are bunkers no matter what the line off the tee. Of the bunkers in play, the golfer must give the most consideration to the two bunkers that pinch the fairway 250 yards from the green -- lay-up to the them and reaching the green in two is impossible; challenge/carry them and the golfer catches a downslope and will have no more than 200 yards into the green.
|12th Tee Zoomed In|
|12th Second Shot|
|Grass Bunkers Short of 12th Green|
|12th from Behind Green|
The 17th is a decent mid-length par-4, but I think it could be a very good short par-4 if you move up a set (or two) of tees as I did. The pictures are taken from the 350 yard tee box. From there, there is a real decision whether to play to the wide portion of the right, or to challenge the bunker on the left to leave just a pitch into the green.
|17th Tee Zoomed In|
|17th from Behind -- Note 'Sunday Pin Position" on Left Edge of Green|
The tee shot at the 18th is a fairly difficult one. The fairway is narrower than many others on the course, though perhaps this is because the hole generally plays straight downwind.
|18th Tee Zoomed In|
|18th Second Shot|
|18th from Behind|