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The ultimate I-95 golf stop: Don't miss Port St. Lucie on your next south Florida road trip

Ed SchmidtBy Ed Schmidt,
PGA Village - Dye golf course
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PGA Village is the epicenter of golf in Port St. Lucie. The Dye Course is shown here. (Ed Schmidt/TravelGolf)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For frost-bit northerners and others excited about driving to south Florida quickly, Interstate-95 is the overwhelmingly preferred main route to the bottom of the peninsula.

Unfortunately, many golfers race by Port St. Lucie on the central east Florida coast seemingly unaware of the superb golf courses located just a few minutes off I-95.

Situated 48 miles north of West Palm Beach between Fort Pierce to the north and Stuart to the south, Port St. Lucie is familiar to many New York Met fans who attend spring training games every March at Tradition Field. Port St. Lucie is also home to the PGA Museum of Golf and the National Navy SEAL Museum and Memorial.

PGA Village

The epicenter of golf in Port St. Lucie is PGA Village, a multi-faceted resort that serves as the home club for more than 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals.

Recently, the resort hired veteran golf course superintendent Dick Gray, who is dedicated to improving course conditioning to unparalleled levels and enhancing the overall experience at the resort's four golf courses.

Play possibilities at PGA Village include the: Dye Course, a masterpiece of rolling fairways, massive coquina waste bunkers, pine straw roughs and unique bunkering; Wanamaker Course, a Tom Fazio design with bold, exaggerated bunkers, marvelous mounding and large greens; Ryder Course, a Tom Fazio design with as many pine trees as palms evoking a North Carolina feel; and PGA Country Club, a private course by Jim Fazio with limited public play.

If you want to work off the rust after a long winter of inactivity or have a desire to practice and fine-tune your game, the on-site PGA Center For Golf Learning and Performance is an outstanding 35-acre complex with more than 100 full-swing practice stations, nine bunkers that simulate play from around the world, a three-hole teaching course, pitching and chipping practice areas, and technology center for swing analysis, club fitting and game improvement.

Sandpipers Course at Club Med Sandpiper

At Club Med Sandpiper Bay, the Sandpipers Course is the quintessential flat Florida golf course measuring 6,800 yards from the back tees.

The resort is part of the popular international chain offering all-inclusive vacations so the course is family oriented and suitable for a wide range of skill levels.

In addition, there's also a golf academy for those seeking a swing tune up.

St. James Golf Club

Set in a master-planned community, St. James Golf Club -- a 6,838-yard (back tees), par-72 layout designed by Warren Henderson -- has been an integral part of the area golf scene since its opening in 2000.

Wide fairways with generous landing areas off the tee, undulating terrain and elevated tees highlight this daily-fee layout.

Savanna Golf Club

A short, enjoyable test by designer Charles Ankrom, the par-61 Savanna Golf Club measures 3,792 yards from the longest tees.

Built in 1988, the Savanna is an executive course ideal for working on iron play or enjoying a leisurely round with family members and friends.

The Tesoro Club's Palmer Course

At 7,210 yards from the back tees, the Arnold Palmer-designed Palmer Course at the Tesoro Club is a big-hitter's delight.

Set in a luxury, private country club residential community, this impeccably maintained layout is highlighted by mangrove-dotted marsh pools and lakes rimmed with tea olive trees.

The Saints at Port St. Lucie

Owned and operated by the City of Port St. Lucie, the Saints at Port St. Lucie sits in a sedate residential neighborhood.

Playing to par 72 from 6,450 yards (back tees), the "Saints," as it's referred to locally, incorporates water on 12 holes. Opened in 1961, the municipal layout has a driving range, practice area, pro shop and restaurant/pub.

PGA Museum of Golf

If you love golf history, the PGA Museum of Golf, adjacent to the PGA Center For Golf Learning and Performance in PGA Village, pays dedication to the game with impressive displays, exhibits, a photo gallery and library.

You'll see hundreds of vintage photographs and artifacts, the four major championship trophies and the Ryder Cup trophy, Ryder Cup videos and display, and a PGA Championship display.

Dedicated golf historians should visit the museum's Probst Library, which has more than 6,000 hard-cover books, more than 3,000 handbooks and yearbooks, and more than 600 editions of PGA Magazine dating back to 1920. Especially interesting is the rare-books golf section containing an ancient manuscript with the first identifiable reference to golf.

More photos

PGA Village - Dye CoursePGA MuseumSandpiper Golf & C.C. - Piper Course - 8thClub Med Sandpiper Bay Golf Club - 14thSt. James Golf Club

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

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