How Can I Play PGA National?

We explore the ways you can tackle PGA National's Champion Course and its infamous Bear Trap

The sixth green at the PGA National Champion Course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

PGA National’s Champion Course is one of five 18-hole courses at the PGA National Resort & Spa, and considered one of the best courses in Florida. It has hosted many prestigious tournaments since opening in 1981, including the 1983 Ryder Cup and the 1987 PGA Championship. It was also the venue for the Senior PGA Championship  between 1982 and 2000. Since 2007, it has hosted the Honda Classic, and marks the start of the PGA Tour’s month-long Florida swing.

The Champion Course is best known for the Bear Trap, a daunting three-hole stretch comprising the 15th, 16th and 17th named by Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus, who redesigned the original course in 1990. As if to accentuate its difficulty, a plaque reading: “It should be won or lost right here" sits next to a huge statue of a bear to mark its beginning. However, these aren’t the only holes that can make or break your round. The 6th, 10th, 11th and 14th also have formidable reputations, with the 6th considered the 10th hardest hole of the entire Tour in 2020. If you add windy conditions to the mix, the Champion Course is known as one of the Tour’s toughest.

If the course’s frequent ability to ruin the scorecards of some of the world’s best isn’t enough to put you off, there are ways you can tackle it too. PGA National courses are reserved for members and resort guests. Therefore, by far the easiest way to play the Champion Course is to book a stay at the resort. The resort’s Gold Golf Package is one of the most attractive, with deals offering luxury accommodation, breakfast, and golf each day on one of the five championship courses. This includes the Champion Course, although a surcharge is applicable to play it. You can also opt for the Game Changer package, offering a two-night stay and three rounds of golf, one of which includes the Champion Course. The cost of staying at the resort is anywhere from $267 per night to $1,886 per night depending on the time of year of your stay.

Another option is to become a PGA National member. There are various membership packages reportedly ranging from around $6,000 per year to $10,000 per year. Finally, you can play as the guest of a member.

Can Anyone Play PGA National?

The courses at PGA National are open to guests staying at PGA National Resort & Spa. There are a range of packages offering a chance to play the five championship courses at the resort, including the Champion Course. Other options are to become a member, or to know a member who can invite you.

How Many Courses Are In PGA National?

There are five 18-hole championship courses at PGA National. The most famous is the Champion Course, which has hosted the Honda Classic since 2007. The other championship courses are The Palmer, The Fazio, The Estate and The Match. Meanwhile, there is also a nine-hole course, The Staple.

What Is The Bear Trap At PGA National?

The Bear Trap is a three-hole stretch of the Champion Course at the PGA National comprising holes 15, 16 and 17. It is regarded as one of the most difficult stretches of any course and its beginning is marked by a statue of a bear with a plaque next to it reading: "It should be won or lost right here".

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.