PGA National Resort in South Florida will open its new Andy Staples-designed “Match Course” on September 10.
Few golf course openings in recent years have been as anticipated as The Match Course, with its goal of encouraging “match” versus “stroke” play. Built on the land of the resort’s former Squire Course, the 18-hole layout is inspired by classic golf course design principles while using the “template hole” concept for inspired ideas. The result from Staples is sure to foster a spirited conversation among course design enthusiasts.
The Match is a reflection of popularity of the formats used for the Ryder Cup, which PGA National hosted in 1983 on its Champion Course, and is a throwback to an era when winning a match against an opponent was the primary goal. The intention is for players to engage in match play games including best ball, foursomes and skins, as well as a host of additional non-stroke play formats.
The Match’s scorecard won’t reference par or have specific tee markers. For example, the winner (or loser, if specified) of a previous hole will determine the spot from where the group will start the next hole on the “contiguous” tee boxes, which are notated on the scorecard only by minimum and maximum distances between which the hole may be started.
PGA National’s “House Rules” dictate that players “out of the hole” are expected to pick up, meaning rounds of less than four hours. The Match’s turfgrass will be cut to fairway height, placing an emphasis on the ground game often used on the famous courses of Scotland and Ireland. Creative approaches and strategic chipping areas also present multiple options for different shot trajectories around the greens. Penalty areas are minimal with fewer than 20 natural rough-hewn, irregular-edged bunkers throughout.
“Our concept for The Match Course was to design 18 holes where maximizing playability for all skill levels, fostering a faster pace of play as well as creating a unique golf experience where having nothing but fun and more fun was paramount,” Staples said. “The new layout is also an exciting reflection of how most non-professionals enjoy the game at their respective home courses where winning the predetermined ‘match’ is the main goal without the stress of having to post a score.”
The Match Course joins the new nine-hole Staples-designed Staple Course, which opened for play July 1. Both are part of an ongoing $100 million capital revitalization touching every aspect of the property and join the resort’s four “traditional” 18-hole layouts: The Champion, The Palmer, The Fazio and The Estate courses.
“Both our new Match and Staple courses will be extremely attractive to ‘golf buddy’ groups visiting us at PGA National,” director of golf Jane Broderick said. “They can play where the pros play annually during the Honda Classic on The Champion Course in the morning, testing their mettle on The Bear Trap, and then tee it up on our two brilliant Andy Staples-designed layouts in the afternoon and have an absolute blast.”