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Surviving the Honda Classic

Stephen Brown

The Honda Classic, the PGA Tour’s only stop in Palm Beach County, is once again teeing off at PGA National Resort & Spa’s Jack Nicklaus-designed Champion course February 27 through March 2. Boasting one of the most grueling three-hole lineups on the Tour—the dreaded Bear Trap—the Honda Classic over the past few years has become one of the marque tournaments in the entirety of the tour.

Honda Classic - PGA National - Champions Course

   This year, eight of the world's top-10 golfers have committed to the Honda, making it the strongest field of the 2014 PGA Tour to date. Tiger Woods (1), Adam Scott (2), Henrik Stenson (3), Phil Mickelson (5), Justin Rose (6, scratched), Zach Johnson (7), Rory McIlroy (8) and Sergio Garcia (9) are all looking to tame the “Trap” in the first stop on the “Florida Swing.” This means it will be quite crowded at PGA National—so a Honda Classic survival guide is in order. Below, we offer advice on how to make the most out of the tournament.

PGA National - The Champions Course

Park It

If you don't have a press-parking pass, you'll likely have to park off campus. We suggest arranging for someone to drop you off and pick you up.

   If you do drive, general parking is located at Dyer Park (7301 Haverhill Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33412) and costs $10 per day. Shuttles take spectators to and from the tournament. Expect a 45-minute delay. BallenIsles parking is also available for $20 per day just off PGA Boulevard. This option is limited, so get there early.

 

On the Inside

Aside from the stellar golf this tournament is shaping up to deliver, the 2014 Honda Classic is dedicated to the fan like no other previous year. From post-play concerts to multiple hospitality tents amplified by prime spectating sections, there is plenty to do and see while hopping from hole to hole. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect with the Fan Experience:

  • The After Play Concert Series is set with a pretty impressive showing for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, starting as the last putt drops (around 6 p.m.) to 9 p.m. Starting it off, jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis will entertain on Thursday, brining serious brass to the party. On Friday, country-soul darling Brooke Eden will take the stage, a great way to start the weekend. The Horizons Band wraps the After Play Concert on Saturday evening. As a bonus, Friday and Saturday night will boast fireworks displays following the concerts, so sit tight and enjoy the evening. On Sunday following the last putt, the winner will be handed the Honda Classic trophy and a check for $1.08 million.


Dark n' Stormy Cocktail - The Gosling's Dark 'n' Stormy Bear Trap Tent - Honda Classic

  • The hospitality options have been bulked up this year with eight locations throughout the course. The best spectating area has to the be the revamped Gosling’s Dark ‘n' Stormy Bear Trap tent. Growing to 20,000 square feet for 2014, the massive hospitality area now borders the greens on the sixteenth and envelopes the tee on the seventeenth with great views of the greens. With sightlines right in the meat of the Bear Trap, the spectating area is only topped by its dining and spirits offerings. As the name suggests, Goslings Rum will flow freely—dark and stormy’s anyone?—and upgraded food selections will be available. To keep everyone in the loop on the rest of the course, live televised tournament coverage will be piped to TVs set up throughout. Tickets cost $100 per person per day. These will sell out, so purchase now, here.

 

Attend on Thursday

If you are crowd averse but still want to catch the action firsthand, head to the tournament on Thursday. While spectators are still expected to be in record numbers for the early rounds, it is not nearly as crowded as the weekend, especially Sunday.

 

Outside Influence

Make a day of it and enjoy North County from morn to night. Before heading through the gate, enjoy a casual breakfast at Juno Beach Cafe. We recommend the skillets, which will satisfy your hunger all day.

RumBar at Panama Hatties - Tiki Bar in Palm Beach Gardens

   After enjoying a few hours of golf at PGA National, grab a drink and some fish tacos at one of the most scenic spots in Palm Beach Gardes, the RumBar, where the scene is always a party.

 

DIY Golfer

Skip the tournament altogether and play a round yourself. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and with everyone at PGA National, tee-times should be wide open. For a great public course, head to the Palm Beach Gardens Golf Course, the city’s municipal course on Northlake Boulevard.

Palm Beach Gardens Golf Course - Municipal Golf Course - Palm Beach County - Public Golf

   Located on the fringes of the Loxahatchee Slough, the city course winds through natural preserve and wetlands, making it a great place to play and observe native wildlife. A Florida course through and through, there is plenty of marshland, palms and southern pine. The course was redesigned last year by Dusenberry Design and now boasts celebration Bermuda fairways and tifeagle greens. 

  • Daily Play Rates are as follows: Weekday from open to 11 a.m., $55 for Palm Beach Gardens residents ($62 for nonresidents), from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., $49 ($56 for nonresidents); weekend from open to 11 a.m., $57 ($64 for nonresidents), 11 a.m.-3 p.m., $51 ($58 for nonresidents); every day after 3 p.m., $26.
  • To reserve a tee time, call 561-626-7888 or visit pbgfl.com.
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