Nearly every private club defines itself as exclusive, but few can lay claim to the term as honestly as South Florida’s Old Palm Golf Club, which is permanently limited to 330 memberships. The figure is roughly equal to the amount of estates which can ever be constructed on its 651 lushly landscaped acres in Palm Beach Gardens — a parcel which could easily accommodate twice as many houses. But that wouldn’t be very exclusive, would it?
Attribute the intimate scale of the Old Palm in large part to Honorary Club Chairman Ray Floyd, who has an estate of his own there. Winner of four major titles on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, and inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, Floyd wanted to construct a personal paradise suitable for a player of his stature. To that end he designed an 18-hole, par-72 course on the property, as well as a state-of-the-art Golf Studio, complete with three full-length practice holes, the jewel of the Old Palm development which was founded in 2004.
The course itself, 85 acres of natural preserves and 100 acres of lakes and waterways, provide the setting for the private residences, which are divided into three distinct neighborhoods: Golf Estates, Grand Estates, and Custom Estates, as well as a small number of Golf Cottages. The social life of the club is centered around its impressive 43,000-square-foot Clubhouse complete with formal and informal dining options, a full-time concierge, fitness center, spa, resort-style pool with private cabanas, and casitas for overnight guest accommodations among other amenities.
Designed to entice (not intimidate), it was built in the style of Addison Mizner, the great “society architect” of the 1920s who popularized the Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial style for grand private estates. The Clubhouse, which features an equally alluring interior designed to echo that of an opulent but comfortable private residence, sets the tone for the entire development — luxurious. It accommodates different yet harmonious architectural styles, all in the best of taste. While it is unquestionably the redoubt of high net worth individuals, the estates at Old Palm are not so much a way to show off one’s money but to enjoy it. Sales have been brisk, which has unfolded in phases so as not to seem like a permanent construction site, and a limited number of ownership opportunities remain including both completed and in-progress residences in all three neighborhoods.
The first half of 2013, which coincided with the release of new Custom Estates residences and home sites, saw 30 purchases totaling nearly $60 million at the development. In addition to Floyd, professional PGA tour star Lee Westwood, 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen are set to make their homes in Old Palm’s Custom Estates. The parcels are large enough to house residences of 7,000–20,000 square feet, enough space for private swimming pools, home cinemas, wine cellars, gourmet kitchens, porte-cochères and covered loggias. The large lots lend the estates an unmatched aura of privacy. Prices for Old Palm sites and residences range from $1.2 million to more than $15 million.
Also, the amenities available at Old Palm are as much of an attraction as the golf course to many buyers. The Clubhouse itself is home to four dining venues, The Palm Court, the Dining Room and Grille Room, and the Patio. All boast stunning views of the cascading waterfall and the Club’s 18th hole, as well as a wine room for private affairs. Resting on the last large parcel owned by the MacArthur Foundation — John D. MacArthur, founder of the genius grant, acquired most of what is now Palm Beach Gardens in the 1950s — the club sits on preserved land. The Audubon Society has issued Old Palm Golf Club Gold Signature Sanctuary status to reflect its commitment to preservation, and indeed an impressive array of avian life can be seen on the club’s grounds.
The professionals and aspiring amateurs alike appreciate Old Palm’s accommodating “No Tee Time” policy that allows golfers to tee off whenever it suits them, a rare amenity at the better Palm Beach courses. Ditto the 33-acre practice facility consisting of a two-sided range, three regulation holes and an instruction studio where the pros can hone their skills and still be home for lunch. The property is conveniently close to all of Palm Beaches’ cultural and natural attractions. It also sits nearby to world class dining, shopping, the Palm Beach International Airport, and more importantly for many Old Palm residents — the North County General Aviation Airport for private jets.
Old Palm is never content to merely rest on its laurels, however, and the Club recently announced a partnership with the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort to offer Old Palm members beach access. The four-diamond resort, located on Florida’s famed Gold Coast, features a private beach, swimming pools and restaurants a short drive from the Old Palm property.
Jared Paul Stern
Jared Paul Stern has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the New York Times' T magazine, GQ, WWD, Vogue, New York magazine, Details, Hamptons magazine, Playboy, BlackBook, the New York Post, Bergdorf Goodman magazine and Luxist among others. The founding editor of the Page Six magazine, he has also served as a judge for everything from the International Best Dressed List to the F...(Read More)