Saving money is par for the course during the summer
BY WENDY DWYER
One of the reasons Port St. Lucie is one of the fastest growing communities in the country is its fabulous year-round weather. Another reason why the population tops 200,000 is the availability of many leisure activities and a focus on fun.
And one of the biggest draws for tourists and residents is the access to quality golf courses during the summer months. While many find a day at the beach relaxing and rejuvenating, legions of others would rather slip on a pair of golf shoes and hit the course - even during the humidity that is characteristic of a Florida summer.
With more than 20 golf courses ranging from the novice skill level to high-end pro, the region has a golfing experience for everyone. And there are some pretty sweet benefits to golfing in the high humidity and temperatures.
"Summer is a great time for golf in St. Lucie County," says Charlotte Bireley, county tourism and marketing director. "Because our seasonal residents are gone, the availability of tee times grows. And the summer is the perfect time for a golf vacation in St. Lucie County because hotel rates are down, too.
"The City of Port St. Lucie is home to the famous PGA Village [yes, it's open to the public!] that boasts two Tom Fazio designed courses and a third course designed by Pete Dye. The Wanamaker Course ranks 14th and the Dye Course is 21st in Golfweek 2022's "Best state-by-state golf courses you can play," making PGA Golf Club one of only a handful of properties with two layouts on the respected list.
Bireley acknowledges that the mercury may spike a bit, saying, "Yes, it does get hot in Florida in the summer, but between the flexibility of early tee times and the delightful sea breezes that so many of our courses enjoy, almost any time is good for a round of golf in St. Lucie."
The savings available to those willing to brave the warmer temperatures may well be worth applying a slightly more generous dose of antiperspirant and experiencing the humidity.
While a round of golf at the PGA courses can easily reach $199 during season, the cost is closer to $84 or less during the summer months, depending on time of day. At St. Lucie Trail Golf Club, rates to book in the height of Florida's most popular season are more than $120, but in July, you can enjoy the same course for less than $50. The story is similar for many of Port St. Lucie's renowned courses.
Popular online American travel company Tripadvisor brags on several Port St. Lucie golf courses as exceptional, including three PGA courses in the area. PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course in PGA Village, PGA Village's Dye Course and the Ryder Course are all highly ranked and boast superb fairways, roughs and greens.
Rounding out its top five area courses are St. Lucie Trail Club for its sand traps and quick greens, and the Champion Turf Club at St. James. The Saints Golf Course, owned and operated by the city, hosts an annual golf championship, as well as a premier ladies golf association that plays weekly.
Between the quality of the courses, the attention to detail in their maintenance and the discounts received when booking a round of summer golf, it's hard to imagine a losing scenario when planning a summer golf outing.
For those who want to learn how to play the game, Bireley says summer is a really great time to try.
"For the same reasons that tee times are more readily available in the summer in St. Lucie County, it's often easier to schedule a time to work with a golf pro who will help teach you about the game and get you started."
SLOW AND STEADY
For newcomers, summer is a perfect time to explore the game and learn at your own speed. Beginners won't be tossed onto the course without the proper introduction. Working with a pro, especially during the more relaxed summer months, is a great way to be introduced to the game, become familiar with the necessary skills and rules, and enjoy the entire experience. PGA Golf Club offers various membership opportunities, instruction by PGA professionals, outings and events, Stay and Play packages and daily access fees.
Summer is also a great time to introduce children to a sport that helps improve coordination, stability, strategy, and social development. PGA hosts summer golf programs for children as young as 6 that include skill development, fitness, sportsmanship and competition in a fun, fast-paced and friendly environment.
Camps like this often introduce children to a sport that will take them throughout their lives and help build important habits and skills.
The Saints Golf Course offers junior golf programs for ages 7 through 17 that run throughout the year. At Fairwinds Golf Course, not only can juniors ride or walk with an adult for just $1, they also have unlimited use of Fairwinds learning center for only $150 a year.
Every Saturday, junior golfers can play three, six or nine holes of golf at no charge through the Get Out and Play program supported by the St. Lucie County Amateur Golf Association and Swing Tree Golf. Fairwinds also participates in the First Tee Treasure Coast program, a youth development organization whose mission is to "help students build the strength of character to empower them through a lifetime of challenges."
Whether a seasoned pro or a complete neophyte, Port St. Lucie golf courses during the summer months are the perfect places to enjoy the briny breezes, the impeccably-manicured courses and the instant camaraderie and kinship while spending a morning on the fairways and greens. There will also be a little more green left in wallets thanks to the discounted summer rates at courses and local hotels - just one more perk of a paradise called Port St. Lucie.