LAKE WORTH MUNICIPAL GOLF CLUB:
A COASTAL PARADISE

By Mike May

Lake Worth Municipal was a winter golfing destination for former baseball slugger Babe Ruth.

While golfers in Palm Beach County, Florida have access to a number of well-known, nicely manicured layouts such as Emerald Dunes, Madison Green, Osprey Point, and PGA National, one of the forgotten ‘gems’ is actually one of the oldest golf courses in the area -- Lake Worth Municipal Golf Club (www.lakeworthgolfclub.org), which is also one of the 53 courses on the Florida Historic Golf Trail in the Sunshine State.  It’s ‘worth’ noting that Lake Worth Municipal (17th Avenue, Lake Worth, FL; 561-582-9713) was a winter golfing destination for former baseball slugger Babe Ruth, back in the day!

Opened on November 12, 1926, as a nine-hole course designed by the tandem of Theodore J. Moreau and William Langford, Lake Worth Municipal is perched on one of the most scenic parts of south Florida – adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway, along the eastern edge of Lake Worth.  In 1948, golf course architect Dick Wilson redesigned the existing nine holes and added nine more to create today’s par-70 layout.  The club’s website advertises that six of its holes are alongside the Intracoastal, but actually, all 18 holes are within eyeshot of the aquatic landmark.  From anywhere on the course, you can always look to the east and see the water.  After each shot, every golfer should take a moment to glance at the beauty of the nearby waterway.  It helps put the game of golf in its proper perspective.  And, the breeze off the nearby Atlantic Ocean is another bonus -- keeping it comfortable, even in the summer.

Opened on November 12, 1926, as a nine-hole course designed by the tandem of Theodore J. Moreau and William Langford.

As for the tees, fairways, rough, and greens, it’s a traditional, old-style south Florida coastal golf course, where walking is always an option.  It’s pure golf and a fun outlet for golfers of all abilities.  If you are running late, but still want to loosen up before you head to the first tee, there are six warm-up nets next to the clubhouse with an artificial turf hitting area for each ‘bay.’  It’s a great place to use any club in the bag to get loose and limber prior to your round.

Every day, Lake Worth Municipal plays like a classic links golf course as the wind is ever-present -- always impacting your selection of the right club for the next shot.  What makes this course special is that every green is slightly raised from the fairway and is bordered by a lush, well-watered perimeter which adds to the degree of difficulty of getting ‘up & down’ for par.  Also, when a pin is located at the back of a green and the wind is in your face, being able to successfully pick the right club comes with experience.  As a result, you walk away from each hole with a higher level of respect than you thought the hole ever deserved.

While the championship tees measure less than 6,200 yards, short by today’s standards, the course will play longer and tougher than it appears on paper.  One other twist worth noting is that in 2014, the course went through a switch.  The original back nine became the new front nine and vice versa.  Why the change?

The course opens and closes ‘like a lion,’ and the 16 other holes are not exactly ‘lamb-like.’ 

According to Christopher Fletcher, the director of golf at Lake Worth Municipal, there were two reasons for the switch:  tradition and customer service.

“The south nine was the original front nine in the ‘20s,” says Fletcher.  “More importantly, my bag staff can better see the golfers coming down the par 4 (of the north nine), rather than over by the par 3, which allows them to be better prepared when people finish. Thus, providing better customer service.”

The course opens and closes ‘like a lion,’ and the 16 other holes are not exactly ‘lamb-like.’  The opening hole is a 500+ yard, right-to-left par five -- the #2 handicap hole.  Avoid hitting the ball too far left off the tee or your ball will find the Intracoastal Waterway.  At Lake Worth Municipal, the best was saved for last, as the 18th is a 435-yard par four, made more difficult by any breeze out of the south.  The 18th is the #1 handicap hole.  A par at the home hole is always a worthy achievement.  The most memorable tee shot at Lake Worth Municipal is at the par-three 17th.  As you stand on the tee, an unblocked view of the Intracoastal Waterway is at your back -- a priceless perspective.  As you look to the 17th green, the steeple of a nearby church grabs your attention, especially late in the day with a setting sun to the west.  With your tee shot, aim to the right of the steeple.

Lake Worth Municipal is perched on one of the most scenic parts of south Florida – adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway, along the eastern edge of Lake Worth.

Another appealing aspect of Lake Worth Municipal is the wide variety of birds and animals that live on or near the course.  They include blue ducks, mottled ducks, great blue herons, iguanas, oystercatchers, spoonbills, and ‘Elvis’ the alligator. 

To add to the local ‘flavor’ of Lake Worth Municipal, four benches on the course are named in honor of those who once called this club their golfing home.  They are Charlie Terry, Angelina “Bingo Angie” Ferrano, Agnes Carreccia, and a group of golfers called “The Dogfighters.”  After you play Lake Worth Municipal, you’ll understand why this course was their ‘home away from home’ and why it remains that way for many of the area’s golfing regulars.  Plus, not many people get to play golf and walk in the footsteps of such luminary figures as baseball slugger Babe Ruth.

When you walk off the 18th green, I highly suggest that you check out the spectacular views are and the menu at the club’s ‘19th hole’ -- The Beach Club On the Waterfront, which overlooks the Intracoastal.  In addition to enjoying the views, I highly suggest you enjoy what’s on the menu, especially the Nachos Beach Club and the Beach Club Catch.

The Lake Worth Municipal Golf Club awaits your arrival.
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The writer of this story, Mike May, is a south Florida-based golf writer.  He lives not far from Lake Worth in the nearby village of Wellington.  Mike can be reached at mmaymarketing@gmail.com

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