Look Beyond the Golf at PGA National Resort, Florida

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The 379-room PGA National Resort & Spa is located in Palm Beach Gardens about 20 minutes inland from Florida’s high society scene in Palm Beach. The property is arguably the most comprehensive golf resort on the East Coast, with five true championship courses designed by men like Palmer, Nicklaus and Fazio. It’s perhaps best known for the famous “Bear Trap”—a series of three holes on the “Champion” course considered one of the toughest stretches in golf.

Except I don’t golf. Which, I was excited to learn during a visit this spring, is not really an issue. Especially for groups.

“What I think is an interesting thing about this resort is that the majority of our groups are not necessarily golfers,” says Iris Acosta, Director of Sales. “That was a striking thing to me when I first started here, but when it comes to PGA I think that the destination of Palm Beach County has so much to offer.”

Shopping is the obvious choice with the Worth Avenue gauntlet of glam so close by in “Palm.” There are couture boutiques for as far as you can see. The Polo Ralph Lauren flagship features a statue garden in the back for groups to put their bags down and sip tea or champagne. Surprisingly good sales at RL, I might add. The classically lavish Tiffany & Co. shop has a statue of a man hoisting a gold Tiffany’s clock. And you’ll see chauffeurs standing outside next to big black Bentleys while the lady of the house shops from Pucci to Gucci.

Acosta’s favorite venue to suggest to planners, however, is Palm Beach International Raceway.

“It’s great because you can race cars like Porsches and BMWs,” she says, “It’s a real world class facility.” Racing full speed in some of the world’s sexiest cars without a chance of getting pulled over will definitely snap attendees out of the pervasively laid back ambiance in this tropical paradise.

Back at the resort, PGA National’s Dave Leadbetter Golf Academy is considered among the best golf schools in the world when it comes to introducing beginners to the sport. More experienced golfers here can have their golf clubs custom fit and their swing analyzed via high-tech computers.

For casual golf events, PGA puts together Neon Golf tourneys at night, lighting up the entire course with bright lights. Champagne again! Definitely helped loosen up my back on my follow through, which I’m told is important.

Croquet is something of a custom still celebrated in the Palm Beach area, and PGA National has five manicured croquet fields.

“The croquet fields are super fun for events because you can split into smaller groups in five little fields,” explains Acosta. “There’s a leader, there’s somebody who follows the ball, there’s somebody that does the instruction, and then everyone can switch positions. So it’s perfect for teambuilding.”

When it’s time to sit and network with colleagues and clients, the best place to grab a drink is the iBar in the lobby. The bar is the focus of attention as you enter the resort, and it’s always packed with people. Here you can find both guests and trendy locals looking for a good vibe and great finger food. The bar is casual with a laid-back, sophisticated attitude where you’ll feel equally comfortable in business attire or a little black dress.

“The iBar has become the heart and soul of the resort, it’s the spot to be at,” Acosta says over a glass of, hmm, champagne.

After all of the Armani shopping, neon golfing, cork popping and car racing, a girl can use a little time in the new 40,000-sf spa with 32 treatment rooms.

It’s a good way to prepare for meetings inside the 39,000-sf conference wing and 1,000-pax PGA Ballroom, with pretty views of the famous fairways right outside.

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