The newly redesigned Rees Jones Course (formerly known as Breakers West) lies about 11 miles from The Breakers Resort across Interstate 95 near the Florida Turnpike. The course was reconstructed in 2004 by the famed Rees Jones, better known as the “fixer,” because of his talent for taking weak courses and making them spectacular. After a $6 million reconstruction that lengthened it to 7,104 yards and a par 72, the Rees Jones Course was voted “2005 Renovation of the Year” by Golf Inc.
The Breakers Resort, on the beach at Palm Beach Island, offers myriad activities including swimming, spa treatments and epicurean delights, plus two 18-hole golf courses. The hotel is magnificent and impeccably maintained. I felt like I was joining the who’s who list of 1920s society. John Jacob Astor, John D. Rockefeller, the Vanderbilts, Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst all played here.
The hotel you see today has its roots in two older properties. In 1896, the famed Palm Beach Inn opened on this site. After that property burned to the ground, the first Breakers was built in 1904. It, too, burned to ashes. The Breakers as it exists today — rebuilt in 1926 at a then record price of $7 million — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Opposite the hotel, overlooking the Atlantic, is the Ocean Course. Originally designed in 1896 by Alexander H. Findlay and reconstructed in 2000 by Brian Silvia, it is considered the oldest course in Florida. The Breakers’ two courses make for a great golf getaway at a truly outstanding resort.
Hole 2 (442 yards, par 4)
There is little room for error on this par 4. Steer your shot right center of the dogleg left, or try to cut a little off the corner on the left side. Hit with juice or trees might block your second shot. Wind could affect your shot to the green; you might want to adjust your club selection up one or two. The bulkheaded green has a pond on its left front and a Y-shaped mound in the center, making putting a challenge. Greens were lightning-fast the day we played.
Hole 4 (441 yards, par 4)
This is a straightforward hole with a fairway bunker about 250 yards from the tee box. A perfect drive to left-center will allow you a piece-of-cake midiron shot to the green. Two traps protect the green, one on the right and the other on the left. The green has a mound and is raised in the back.
Hole 6 (556 yards, par 5)
This long par 5 can be shortened if you have the guts to cut the corner over the trees and water that line this right-hand dogleg. A safer bet is to land slightly right of the two fairway bunkers. Cutting the corner was my downfall, but a little cart path “magic” advanced my ball another 50 yards. Your second shot must clear the bunkers on the left and avoid the water that runs up the right side of the fairway and wraps around the green. Oh, Rees and his crowned greens! There’s no rough to stop your ball. Land short and stick the green; any roll will send your ball into the water. I know from experience.
Hole 8 (191 yards, par 3)
Bulkheads will catch any shots short to the green. Three bunkers at the back and one to the right will capture any slicing balls. A large pond fronts the green and your shot is nearly all carry with little margin for error.
Hole 9 (455 yards, par 4)
This is the No. 1 handicapped hole on the course and it is a beauty: a horseshoe-shaped hole that makes a severe left U-turn. From the tee box you need to clear about 150 yards of water for your first shot. The second shot also needs to carry water and cross two bunkers to the slightly elevated green. The back of the green has a large trap to catch overshot balls.
Hole 11 (161 yards, par 3)
This is another bulkheaded green over water where the green juts out into the lake like a peninsula. A trap lies left back of the green and you will need to carry about 130 to 140 yards of water to the green.
Hole 13 (394 yards, par 4)
From the tee box, drive your ball slightly right-center of the fairway, avoiding the two fairway bunkers on the right side. Shots too far left might have difficulty reaching the green and might be blocked by the trees. Your approach shot to the green will have to carry water that cuts in the front two-thirds of the green. Missed shots to the right will roll into the water. A bunker guards the right side of the green, which has slight depression in the middle. A little extra club might be in order to reach this elevated green.
Hole 16 (442 yards, par 4)
From the tee box, avoid the trap that lies at the turn of this dogleg left and the two on the far right side. Landing short of, or between, the two first traps will place you 160 to 170 yards from the green, which will help you understand why this is the No. 2 handicapped hole on the course. Water lies on the right side of the fairway for your second shot, but it really should not come into play. Two traps right and left protect the green.
Hole 18 (425 yards, par 4)
Drive off the tee avoiding a massive bunker on the left side of the bend of this dogleg left. From here the hole is a slight uphill shot to a green guarded by three bunkers: two right, one left. The green is slightly elevated at the back, so pin placement is key. You can take a lot of yardage off of this hole by cutting the dogleg.
THE BREAKERS – REES JONES COURSE
1550 Flagler Parkway
West Palm Beach, FL 33411
tel 561 653 6320
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