Grade "A" Architecture - Panther National

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11th Hole, Par-5, 654 to 486 Yards
Posted on
March 2, 2024
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Architects: Jack Nicklaus & Justin Thomas
Official opening: November 17, 2023
Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA


The two most striking dimensions at the newly opened Panther National are the overall scale of the property – 400 acres -- and the bold ownership move for no interior housing intruding upon the golf experience.

The tried-and-true formula for much of Florida golf development stretching back over 50 years has been maximizing frontage of housing in abutting the golf course – sometimes on both sides of the fairway. The primacy of real estate was dominant - the golf subordinate.

Grade "A" Architecture - Panther National
Credit: Evan Schiller

Dominik Senn, Founder and President, was keenly aware of the typical Florida golf experience and was determined to give the property a more meaningful and impactful connection. One where the totality of the golf experience never takes a backseat.

In short - no clutter.

Golf is the headliner – always.

The 18-hole layout is situated on 190 acres with ground breaking occurring in the spring of 2022. Over three million cubic yards were moved creating a finished product that provides a rolling landscape with a routing that engages various wind directions throughout the round.

Interestingly, the routing allows golfers to return near the clubhouse after each three-hole sequence on the outward side.

Panther National does have holes where the avoidance of penalty areas is a central element. However, the intersection with water is not a perpetual "swim or sink" situation with forced carries carried out to the point of mindless overkill.

Nicklaus and Thomas smartly added sufficient width on nearly all the holes at Panther National and this element was a wise choice given the varying wind velocities that emerge daily.

Sandy areas of varying shapes and sizes dot the landscape. Nicklaus and Thomas also smartly sculpted into the terrain a number of waste areas providing the property an enhanced natural character and hole separation.

In keeping with a "links style" design, Nicklaus and Thomas sculpted numerous sandy areas into the terrain providing the property an enhanced natural character. The sand, in concert with Bahia-grass areas, which dot the landscape and separate each hole, presenting great challenges while still offering golfers a level of recovery options.

There are a number of holes worthy of Grade "A" Architecture mention but one epitomizes the total awareness of Panther National -- the par-5 11th.

The hole begins from a slightly elevated tee. Then moves downhill to a sloping fairway protected on the left by a large diagonally-angled sandy waste area on the left and a twosome of sandy areas on the right side.

The first key decision is how aggressive to be on the tee shot. Golfers able to work-the-ball on a right-to-left ball flight can create a curvature that escapes the clutches of the left waste area and secures a "speed slot" propelling their ball countless more yards.

Credit: Evan Schiller

Complicating matters is a penalty area that runs perpendicular and is roughly 400 yards from the back teeing area. The longest of golfers have to be mindful of its location.

Those finding the fairway must then confront two large sandy waste areas on the left and right sides. The best play is to advance one's ball towards the right side of the hole in order to secure the best approach angle into the green.

The putting surface is diagonally positioned from upper left to lower right and 42 yards long. Matters are additionally complicated with the green elevated above the approach area. Those missing left with their second shot face a more daunting angle to overcome.

When the pin is placed in the most forward of areas it's especially important for golfers to avoid having their shot come up just a bit short and then be pulled backwards off the green by false front section.

When putting players face an array of vexing internal movements.

Grade "A" Architecture - Panther National
Credit: Evan Schiller

Par-5 holes are often characterized as easy fodder with players erroneously concluding birdies are an ordained outcome. These same players believe there's little fear from the consequences of inadequate execution.

The 11th at Panther National encourages the bold play but never permits anything other than superior execution. Yes, birdies can be had but the shotmaking is central for that to happen.

Like an honest judge - no bribes are accepted at the 11th. Present your evidence or be forewarned the justice applied will be swift and ever certain.


For more info go to:

PANTHER NATIONAL - A lifestyle few experience

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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