By David Wood, Special to PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- “Even the frogs had lifejackets on up where I live,” said Boo Weekley, referring to the recent deluge that swept through Florida a few days back.
A Sunshine State resident, the affable Weekley was holding court with his fellow PGA TOUR players, caddies, swing gurus and pretty much anyone else within an earshot as he hit balls on the range of The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa -- the host of this week’s The Honda Classic.
Like Weekley’s easygoing nature, there was an unhurried atmosphere to the morning proceedings as the traveling show featuring the world’s best players was just beginning the “Florida Swing” under a bit of friendlier skies.
TOUR newcomer James Hahn of “Gangnam Style” dance fame at TPC Scottsdale's par-3 16th was launching one beautiful iron shot after another toward the puffy clouds on the horizon.
Over at the practice green abutting the first hole of The Champion, Jason Dufner was hitting little 10-foot feather pitches that were landing as softly as cotton balls hitting the bathroom floor. Oh, they make this difficult game appear so easy.
What’s not easy is to hold an event of this magnitude. However, with its vast manicured grounds, four “on campus” courses, and plenty of elbow room for big crowds hoping to see Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods battle it out again this year, PGA National makes it look as easy as a one-foot putt.
Last year, in Woods’ professional debut in the event, the Honda attracted 161,700 spectators -- a 45 percent increase over the 111,950 fans attending in 2011. Sunday’s dramatic final round showcased Woods shooting a 62 on the vaunted Jack Nicklaus redesign in hot pursuit of eventual winner McIlroy. NBC’s television coverage reported an overnight viewership rating up 78 percent from last year -– the event's best in a decade.
This year’s tournament also showcases PGA National’s five-year, $100 million revitalization of its entire property. Most every aspect of the legendary destination has been transformed from floor-to-ceiling makeovers of its 379 guest rooms to the new “Fazio Course” -- a complete Tom Fazio II remodel of “The Haig,” the resort’s original 18.
“We’re very excited to showcase the final results of our $100 million investment,” says David Fine, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue. “This is momentous time for us and The Honda Classic is ideal to reveal the enhancements on the world stage.”
With a transformed resort, stellar field and no lifejackets needed for frogs, it looks to be a great week at The Honda Classic.
For more information on PGA National Resort & Spa, please visit www.pgaresort.com or call 800-533-9386.