Fore! to 17: Kid-Friendly Golf in The Palm Beaches

August 3, 2018

It’s a well-known fact that Palm Beach County is home to some of the  most notable golf courses in the country. It’s also home to successful junior golf programs, making it friendly for visiting families who want to golf together.

One of the best examples of Palm Beach County’s successful junior golf program is the reigning U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka, who grew up in Wellington. Growing up, Brooks spent many summer days at West Palm Beach’s Okeeheelee Golf Course, one of the many public-access golf courses in The Palm Beaches. It was at Okeeheelee that Brooks learned how to drive, pitch, chip, and putt the golf ball.

“Growing up at Okeeheelee was a blast!” remembers Brooks. “We would get dropped off at 7:30 every morning and we would get picked up at dark. I learned how to play the game there and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Public Golf Courses Abound

Sure, there’s Seminole, PGA National, and Jupiter Hills, but it’s the public-access golf courses that fuel the game and nurture future generations of golfers in Palm Beach County.

Five of those facilities that strongly cater to junior golfers—both locals and visitors—are owned and operated by Palm Beach County: Okeeheelee Golf Course in West Palm Beach, Park Ridge Golf Course in Lake Worth, Southwinds Golf Course in Boca Raton, Osprey Point Golf Course in Boca Raton, and the John Prince Golf Learning Center in Lake Worth. At John Prince, there are exceptional practice facilities and a series of short holes to play.

The five facilities cater as much to the present as they do the future—after all, today’s junior golfers are tomorrow’s adult golfers—with junior golf being Palm Beach County Golf’s biggest focus.

Golf Courses with Junior Access

To give junior golfers as much access as possible to the four public golf courses and John Prince’s practice facility, families can buy an annual Junior Golf Card for $50 or a Junior Golf Card Plus for $150. The more expensive card gives you more range balls a month. For either fee, juniors are allowed to play as much golf as they want, starting as early as 11:30 a.m. in the summer. And they get complimentary access to rental clubs, too. That means juniors don’t need to own or bring their own golf clubs to play golf here.

The courses also offer junior instruction, junior camps and a variety of junior merchandise in their pro shops.

Golf Clinics

Besides getting access to the golf courses, special clinics are held throughout the year so juniors can refine and improve their shot-making skills. There’s the Don Law Academy at Osprey Point which caters to junior golfers looking to excel at a higher level, as well as other golf learning centers countywide.

There are competitive golf opportunities for juniors in Palm Beach County as well. The Junior Golf Foundation of America provides basic tournament-level competition during the summer. And there are monthly parent-child nine-hole scramble tournaments on summer Sundays at Southwinds, Osprey Point, and Okeeheelee. 

“I can’t say enough about the Junior Golf Foundation of America’s junior golf programs at Okeeheelee,” says Brooks. “It was on those golf courses and through those tournaments that I fell in love with the game. I can honestly say that I would not be where I’m at today if those opportunities were not available to me when I was younger.”

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Mike May
Mike May
Mike is a freelance golf writer based in Wellington. Mike, an avid golfer, is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He traces his roots as a golf writer to the 1983 British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale – which he attended for all four days – and then voluntarily wrote his own account of that major championship event. Mike is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned a degree in broadcasting.