Why do so many PGA Tour players live in one small Florida golf mecca? It started with Jack Nicklaus.
Woodstock, Vermont is where Keegan Bradley began his life. The ideal setting for his first athletic crush, which was on ski racing.
Bradley, a world-class skier, made the decision to pursue a career in golf when he was a teenager, most likely much to the joy of his aunt Pat Bradley, who is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. But a location that receives an average of 82 inches of snow per year and has a high temperature of only 37 degrees for five months out of the year is not ideal for a sport that was not designed to be played on frozen tundra. After spending his senior year of high school in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and his college years at St. John’s University in New York, Bradley finally made the big move and decided that there was only one place to settle for a rising star on the PGA Tour: Florida.
“I don’t think anywhere in the world they have what we have here in Jupiter,” said Bradley, 35, who has won four times on the PGA Tour, including the 2011 PGA Championship. Bradley is a four-time winner of the PGA Championship.
Golfer spends too many late fall and winter days shivering on hard, brown courses; realizes the only way to further the career is to find the perfect spot where greens are, well, green year-round. This is a story that can be repeated over and over again: Golfer grows up in a cold country; spends too many late fall and winter days on hard, brown courses; realizes the only way to further the career is to find the perfect spot where greens are, well, green year-round
Every investigation brings them back to the same county in the United States: Palm Beach County.
This region is to golf what Silicon Valley is to technology. Whether it’s Jupiter or Jupiter Island, Palm Beach Gardens or North Palm Beach, Delray Beach or Boca Raton, this area is home to some of the best courses in the world.
This is the place where the golfing elite congregate.
MORE: Has Phil Mickelson decided to relocate to Jupiter? That is the plan, exactly.
According to the mayor of Jupiter, Todd Wodraska, “All of these golfers have the luxury of being able to live wherever they want, and they recognize Jupiter, which is located in northern Palm Beach County, has the greatest lifestyle.” “(There are) wonderful opportunities for golf, and you can even keep a boat in your own backyard.” “… Those guys are aware that this location is pretty spectacular.”
The region is home to more than 30 active members of the regular PGA Tour, in addition to a great number of other men and women who are professionals in their field. From Gary Woodland in Delray Beach to Tiger Woods on Jupiter Island (and soon Phil Mickelson as well), the best golfers in the world call these areas home. The region is home to more than 20 golfers currently ranked in the top 100 in the World Golf Rankings, including more than half of the top 10 players.
There are also players like No. 8 Brooks Koepka, who has won four major championships, and No. 16 Daniel Berger. Koepka and Berger are the two most recognizable names, and as a result, they did not need to google the area or make arrangements for their belongings to be shipped across state lines. Both were born and raised in Palm Beach County, and both currently call Jupiter, Florida, home. Both also continue to meet and greet friends and neighbors who relocate to Jupiter.
Then there are the retired legends, which are led by the “Godfather of Golf,” Jack Nicklaus, along with those who are on the back nine of their professional careers and those who are regulars on the Tour Champions.
Do you want to organize a game for the golden oldies? Ernie Els, the youngest of the group at age 51, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Bernhard Langer, Raymond Floyd, and Mark Calcavecchia are just some of the major winners and Hall of Famers who are eligible to join. Nicklaus and Gary Player, who are both in their 80s, have the ability to choose a camp. Everyone else lives in the Jupiter area, with the notable exception of Langer, who has been a resident of Boca Raton for a very long time.
Between the two groups of golfers, they have a combined total of 81 major championship trophies or jackets on the PGA Tour. These golfers either live in the area or are planning to move there in the near future.
Jack Nicklaus started it 55 years ago
In 1966, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus uprooted their lives and made their home in North Palm Beach after moving to Palm Beach County. This was the year that Jack won both the Masters and The Open Championship, bringing his total number of PGA Tour victories to 17, including four major championships.
Jack and Barbara established the Bear’s Club in Jupiter 22 years ago, and since then it has developed into a hub for professionals living in the surrounding area. At the moment, there are thirty professionals who are members of the club.
Nicklaus mentioned several members, including Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Patrick Cantlay, as being among those who have sought his counsel.
Jack responded by saying, “I don’t go out and seek this, but I am available.” “I’ve always had the impression that I could have some knowledge; you could call it wisdom; I’m not sure if it is or not. It’s possible that I know something that the kids could learn that would be beneficial to them, and if I do, I’d be happy to share it with any of them.
Knowledge is unquestionably gained from having a conversation about golf with Jack Nicklaus. You need evidence? Nicklaus stated that he had a conversation with Cantlay about playing his course at Muirfield Village prior to the Memorial Tournament two years ago. Cantlay designed the course. What new developments have there been? Cantlay took home first place at the tournament not long after he had his initial discussion with Jack in 2019, and he did it again this week, which propelled him to position No. 7 in the world rankings.
How many golf courses in Palm Beach County?
As the population of the region increased around the turn of the century, so did its reputation as a golfing destination. Not only does the state of Florida have the most golf courses in the country with more than 1,250, but Palm Beach County also has the most of any county in the country with more than 160 courses to choose from.
Add to that the climate, the way of life, and a significant reason that goes unspoken – tax breaks – and you have a movement that has been well underway for quite some time.
Thomas shared that he was aware of the fact that he required a year-round warm climate in his new home. “I was with a large group of my friends here. I wanted to surround myself with people who would help me become a better version of myself. My goal was to compete alongside some of the best players in the world. This has been the most significant advantage.
If I want to keep playing golf at the same level, I can’t see myself living anywhere else. I just can’t see it.
After Johnson, who has held the top spot in the world rankings for the past ten months, Thomas is currently ranked second. Johnson recently relocated to Harbour Isles in North Palm Beach after selling his estate in Palm Beach Gardens for $16.5 million. This is an increase of $11.5 million over the price at which he purchased the property in 2015. Johnson came out on top to win the 2016 U.S. Open and 2020 Masters.
Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas are as close as any other Tour pros in the neighborhood because they live on the same street. Since Fowler has been a resident of Jupiter for more than 11 years, he has been able to observe the influx of professionals of varying levels into the area.
“There are always guys to play with, there are always good games, and that’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” said Fowler. “Being around guys that I can compete against and help push each other to be better is something that I’ve always found enjoyable.”
Even though the old adage “iron sharpens iron” probably has some truth to it, it does not necessarily apply to everyone. After competing in the Honda Classic in 2014, Irish native and 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry fell in love with the area and decided to make it his permanent home. In the spring, he finally purchased a home in Jupiter after renting for the previous four years.
When Lowry first moved to Palm Beach County, it wasn’t so much the people who lived around him as the neighborhoods themselves that drew him in.
He explained, “It’s Palm Beach… Jupiter literally has everything.” “Not only does it have fantastic weather, but also fantastic golf courses and practice facilities. This is the reason why we are here. It’s not just because everyone else is here that we’ve decided to come. It just so happens that everyone comes here because it has the best weather during the winter, and it is the best place to practice.
If Tiger Woods builds it, they will come
When Tiger Woods was still residing in Orlando fifteen years ago, he established ties to the surrounding community. The golfer who has won 15 major championships and is second only to Jack Nicklaus, who has won 18, purchased a home on Jupiter Island in southeast Martin County in 2006 for the price of $38 million. The home has 13,700 square feet and sits on a 10-acre parcel that stretches from the ocean to the intracoastal.
When asked about it at the time, he said, “I miss the ocean.” When you’re in Orlando, you’ll notice that there are a lot of lakes, but it’s not the ocean.
It is said that his wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, was the one who encouraged him to make the purchase. Following the conclusion of his marriage to his ex-wife in 2011, Tiger moved his primary residence to Jupiter Island.
By that time, a few Tour professionals had already gone before him, including Luke Donald, Bradley, Johnson, and Fowler, among others. However, many more would come after them. McIlroy, a winner of four major championships, first settled in Palm Beach Gardens after moving to the area in 2013. In 2018, he purchased the 17,000-square-foot estate that belonged to Ernie Els in the Bear’s Club.
The most recent champion of the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson, is up next. Mickelson is remaining tight-lipped about his possible relocation to Jupiter Island from California; however, he did say recently that “the plan” is to move here. “A lot of great things around the area,” was all he would say about the potential relocation.
“A lot of the guys went to Orlando first,” said Donald, who had been a resident of Chicago prior to his move in 2006, when he moved to another city. “And then it appears that they make their way to Palm Beach County from Orlando.”
In particular, the northwestern portion of Palm Beach County, with a few notable exceptions. The 2019 United States Open will be held at Woodland. Open Champion, was a native of Topeka, Kansas, and received his education at the University of Kansas. Approximately ten years ago, he came to the conclusion that it was time to relocate. The town of Delray Beach was his pick.
He smiled as he explained, “I see everybody every week, so the last thing I want to do is see them when I’m home.” “We are always together when we travel. Therefore, I encounter them on a regular basis.
Woodland competes in the Miami Open and expressed interest in moving to south county. He told us that we had “fallen in love with Delray.” “I don’t see myself ever leaving that location,” the speaker said.
‘For golf pros, this is heaven’
When it comes to golf courses and practice areas, professionals will accept nothing less than the very best. They place equal importance on having opulent clubhouses, pristine fairways, and immaculate greens as they do on employing the most qualified accountant, caddie, and chef.
And local golf courses are a big part of the appeal.
While Jack Nicklaus is responsible for making Bear’s Club a popular destination, other courses like Dye Preserve, Medalist, Turtle Creek, and Michael Jordan’s The Grove XXIII, which opened in 2019, have the potential to play host to top players from around the world on any given day of the week for practice rounds.
Jeff Leishman, a PGA Tour coach based out of Dye Preserve who coached Berger for 12 years, said that on any given day, there are favorable golf courses where games are being played at any given time. “Any given day, there are the favorable golf courses where games are being played at any given time.” Dye Preserve is home to approximately twenty professional golfers who compete on the PGA, Champions, and LPGA tours.
These contests, according to Leishman, were money matches. According to what he said, “we joked that we were possibly giving out world ranking points.”
These practice rounds, according to Denny McCarthy, help “get those competitive juices flowing in an off week.” McCarthy graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 and moved to Jupiter in 2014 after his graduation.
He explained, “I’m such a competitor, so even for a small money game, I get up to play.” “I’m such a competitor.”
The term “small money” has a relative meaning. The cumulative earnings of locals who compete on the regular Tour have come to within a few hundred million dollars of a billion dollars. This does not take into account any investments made by third parties, which could add up to an additional several hundred million dollars.
Because there are so many world-class venues to choose from, several golfers are members of more than one club or play out of more than one club. These golfers include Berger (Dye Preserve and Bear’s Club), Thomas (Bear’s Club and Medalist), Bradley (Bear’s Club and The Grove), Fowler (Medalist and Turtle Creek), Johnson (Bear’s Club and The Grove), McIlroy (Bear’s Club and The Grove), and Donald (B
The Pine Tree Golf Club is located in Boynton Beach and is the home course for Woodland. Ben Hogan once referred to it as “the best course I have ever seen,” and Sam Snead was a member there at one point.
“When a tour player is at their course, it can come as quite a surprise to people in other parts of the country or the world,” Bradley said. “But in this part of the world, it’s perfectly normal. We do not have to worry about setting up the practice facilities, and we get to use our own balls on the driving range.
“This place is a dream come true for seasoned golfers.”
They are not only visible on the courses, but also when they are dining in restaurants, popping into their favorite Starbucks, or watching their children play on a nearby baseball field.
Palm Beach County is where everything takes place.
“At the very least once per week,” stated Lucas Glover of Jupiter. “Within a radius of five or six miles of our home in Jupiter, we almost always go to the same restaurants, grocery stores, and other establishments.”
Since 2016, Wodraska has held the position of Mayor of Jupiter. He has struck up a friendship with Ryan Armour, who appears to be no different than any other father present at his children’s sporting events.
According to what Wodraska had to say, “in Jupiter, certainly the secret has been out for some time now.” “I believe that they do not feel uneasy when they are out and about. They are at home whenever they are in this location. “And home is being comfortable and finding your favorite restaurant and finding your favorite place to grab a cup of coffee so you don’t have to be hounded by autograph seekers.” “And home is being comfortable and finding your favorite restaurant and finding your favorite place to grab a cup of coffee.”
And there is no other location that compares to the warmth and convenience of The Woods Jupiter. There have been several celebrations held at Tiger’s flagship restaurant, which provides privacy and protection from celebrity seekers. These celebrations include Fowler’s and Thomas’ victories in the Honda Classic in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
All of these things have the potential to be very beneficial to the region. The golf phenomenon that is taking place in our region is a dream come true for the local Chamber of Commerce because it has attracted not only great PGA pros but also professionals from the LPGA tour, along with other iconic athletes and entertainers.
Brian Coffey, a real estate agent with One Sotheby’s International, is aware of the advantages.
“I think it is a selling point,” he said. “If these people that could afford to live anywhere have chosen the Jupiter area and Palm Beach area to live, why wouldn’t I want to be around them.
“They are smart, very successful people. They can live anywhere they want. They’re living here. The homework’s been done for them.”
Active Tour players who live in Palm Beach and southern Martin counties
Active members of the regular PGA Tour who live in Palm Beach County and southern Martin County. (World Golf Ranking in parenthesis)
- Ryan Armour, Jupiter (261) (261)
- Daniel Berger, Jupiter (16) (16)
- Keegan Bradley, Jupiter (73) (73)
- Patrick Cantlay, North Palm Beach (7) (7)
- Corey Connors, Palm Beach Gardens (36) (36)
- Luke Donald, Jupiter (514) (514)
- Matthew Fitzpatrick, Jupiter (21) (21)
- Rickie Fowler, Jupiter (87) (87)
- Lucas Glover, Jupiter (112) (112)
- Branden Grace, Jupiter (71) (71)
- Dustin Johnson, North Palm Beach (1) (1)
- Brooks Koepka, Jupiter (8) (8)
- Tom Lewis, Jupiter (127) (127)
- Shane Lowry, Jupiter (40) (40)
- Denny McCarthy, Jupiter (164) (164)
- Rory McIlroy, Jupiter (10) (10)
- Phil Mickelson, Jupiter Island* (31) (31)
- Joaquin Niemann, Jupiter (30) (30)
- Alex Noren, Jupiter (93) (93)
- Louis Oosthuizen, Jupiter (18) (18)
- Patrick Rodgers, Palm Beach Gardens (228) (228)
- Charl Schwartzel, Palm Beach Gardens (110) (110)
- Cameron Tringale, Palm Beach Gardens (74) (74)
- Justin Thomas, Jupiter (2) (2)
- Peter Uihlein, Jupiter (250) (250)
- Erik van Rooyen, Jupiter (88) (88)
- Camilo Villegas, Jupiter (222) (222)
- Aaron Wise, Jupiter (98) (98)
- Matthew Wolff, Jupiter (33) (33)
- Gary Woodland, Delray Beach (59) (59)
- Tiger Woods, Jupiter Island (134) (134)