By Leigh MacKay

I watched Lee Westwood’s technique very carefully as I appreciated seeing a pro at work. I was particularly impressed by the softness of his grip, the mellifluous change of motion from back to forward, and the accuracy of the result.

Either fishing or playing golf, Lee Westwood is at home at Old Palm.

Either fishing for trophy-sized largemouths or readying his game for other trophies, Lee Westwood is always at home at Old Palm.

No bass, however, jumped at the zigzagging lure, but Westwood repeated his cast with the same ease that marks his golf swing. I had arrived at the 14th tee of Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens when Westwood ventured from his backyard to a nearby lagoon and wet his line.

On this Wednesday after the 2013 Masters, Westwood, who finished T-8 at -3, was relaxing at his estate home and enjoying the solitude of his surroundings. Then I had to venture from my tee, after watching Westwood’s first few attempts to coax a largemouth from his hideaway, and continue play at one of Florida’s premier private clubs.

The Outstanding Raymond Floyd Design

What makes Old Palm exceptional in an area of the country—the Palm Beaches—that is renowned for its extraordinary residential golf communities? The first two reasons are the golf course and the clubhouse—the centerpieces, literally and figuratively, of Old Palm.

In what is arguably the best of his many championship designs, golf legend Raymond Floyd has routed his par-72 layout throughout the heart of the natural setting of stately pines, tropical flora, and native vegetation. With eight sets of tees and lengths that range from 7401-4976, each golfer will find a challenging yet eminently fair test. The impeccably conditioned course features both paspalum fairways to provide faultless lies and contoured TifEagle Ultradwarf Bermuda greens to insure fast, true rolls.

The par-3 second hole is typical of Raymond Floyd's design, a visual delight and challenging.

The par-3 second hole is typical of Raymond Floyd’s design, a visual delight and challenging.

Because membership is limited to only 330 equity members, the club offers an accommodating “No Tee Time” policy that allows golfers to tee off whenever it suits them. No rushing, no scheduling, no problems.

Floyd has also added a Scottish-style 19th bye hole, an intriguing, water-girt par-3 where foursomes can finalize their friendly wagers. There is a large driving range with adjacent chipping and putting greens. However, the pièce de résistance is the 33-acre Golf Learning Studio with its covered hitting bays,  computerized swing analysis system, and three full-length practice holes—a par-3, a par-4, and a par-5—that are separate from the main course.

The Clubhouse as the Center of Community Life

The social life at Old Palm revolves around the clubhouse, sitting like a Mediterranean villa atop a knoll in the community’s center. It offers casual and fine dining, a well-equipped Fitness Center with personal trainers, a full-service Spa, resort-style heated pool, personalized Concierge services, and Club Casitas with overnight accommodations for members’ guests. The men’s and ladies’ locker rooms are spacious and well appointed—Maria Floyd, Raymond’s wife, made sure that the ladies’ amenities equaled those of the men’s—with lounges that overlook the golf course.

The 18th green and the Mediterranean-style clubhouse, both imposing and beautiful.

The 18th green and the Mediterranean-style clubhouse, both imposing and beautiful.

Floyd, a four-time major champion and Hall of Famer, could live anywhere he wishes and has chosen Old Palm as his residence. The Old Palm lifestyle that Floyd has helped to create has also lured two other major champions to live there. Both Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have joined Lee Westwood as property owners. In addition, NFL Coach Don Shula and golf analyst Ian-Baker Finch reside there.

Distinctive and Elegant Homes in Each Neighborhood

A third reason for Old Palm’s growing popularity in the Palm Beaches is the elegance and value of the homes. Only premier, independent builders in South Florida have been invited to construct residences, and, for low density and high privacy, no more than 316 will be built throughout the 650 acres. Three distinct neighborhoods—Golf Estates, Grand Estates, and Custom Estates—have settings beside the golf course, the 85 acres of natural preserves, or the 100 acres of lakes and waterways. All of the land has been carefully protected, and Old Palm has earned the prestigious Audubon International Golf Signature Certification.

The home sites range from a quarter acre to one acre, and the prices for site and home start at $1.2 million for the Golf Estates and reach $15 million for the Custom Estates. The Golf Estates contain 3, 4, and 5-bedroom homes from 3,400 to 5,000 square feet; the Grand Estates, between 4,800 and 7,000 square feet, are a half acre with 4 and 5-bedrooms and expansive backyards; the Custom Estates go from 7,000 to more than 15,000 square feet and are totally customized to reflect anything the owners imagine.

The dining room in the clubhouse is another aspect of Old Palm where life is well lived.

The dining room in the clubhouse is another aspect of Old Palm where life is well lived.

Where Life Is Well Lived

Old Palm Director of Sales Connie McGinnis put the finishing touches on what makes the community an exceptional one. “Old Palm offers a lifestyle that is unpretentious and comfortable. Obviously, our home buyers are coming from other first-class environments and are accustomed to excellent service and well-built homes. Old Palm offers that and more. They see cutting-edge home designs, a golf course that works for all skill levels, suites for members’ guests, and a ladies lounge and spa that are second to none.”

And, as the first page of the brochure states, the expectation at Old Palm Golf Club is, “Life, well lived.”

For more information about Old Palm, please access the website at www.oldpalmgolfclub.com.