The PGA Tour's Florida Swing starts up this week with the playing of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens.
Plenty of the game's biggest stars will be there, including defending champion and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, as well as world No. 2 Tiger Woods.
Before the tournament teed off, we caught up with Jane Broderick, the PGA Director of Golf at PGA National.
Broderick talked to us about the area, gave her thoughts on McIlroy, the famed Bear Trap and also told us a little about what she loves most about her job.
PGA.com: Jane, thanks so much for joining us as always. Can you tell our readers a little about what the Palm Beach Gardens area has to offer? There's certainly plenty of golf, but that's not all there is to do.
Broderick: Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding area are absolutely incredible. It goes without saying that we have great golf, but even for the non-golfer, there are many things to do. Beach, boating, dining, shopping, biking and running are all at our fingertips. Not to mention the easy driving distance to professional football, baseball, hockey and concert venues that are second to none. There is something for everyone.
PGA.com: Rory McIlroy is your defending champion. What has it been like to observe his rise to the No. 1 spot in the world ranking?
Broderick: Rory claimed his No 1 world ranking with his win at last year’s Honda Classic, so we have all taken a special interest in him. It’s not only been great to see him continue his success since winning here, we are proud to say we are the venue where he claimed the No. 1 spot.
PGA.com: Tell us -- what makes the Bear Trap so dangerous/perplexing for players?
Broderick: The difficulty of the Bear Trap comes from three sources. The first is the stellar design by Mr. Nicklaus, who with his redesign in 1990, took three good holes and made them great.
Tee locations, landing areas and green angles all make No. 15, No. 16 and No. 17 of the Champion Course a force to be dealt with. The second source of the difficulty is the prevailing winds that can easily carry a well-struck shot off line into the water, and the third is the incredible turf conditions compliments of our world-class Golf Maintenance Team. Tough rough and firm, fast putting surfaces are the icing on the cake.
PGA.com: What's the level of excitement like when you know you're going to have Tiger and Rory in the field? It seems that doesn't happen as much as we'd all like.
Broderick: Tour players plan their schedules very strategically, and it is a tremendous compliment to the Honda Classic and to PGA National to have such a strong field including Rory and Tiger. You can see the impact in the build out of the stands, and you can feel the excitement in the air. Be it rivalry, friendship, or both, having them here is making a positive impact on the event, the facility, and will ultimately have a positive impact on the local charities and economy.
PGA.com: I ask this of a lot of PGA Professionals, so I'll ask you too. What do you love most about your job, Jane?
Broderick: I am very fortunate to work with an incredibly dedicated and talented staff. There’s no challenge too great for us and we are always willing to try new and different things.
Whether it’s hosting the Honda Classic and keeping the other courses in full operation, or it’s creating a unique golf experience off the golf course or anything in between, we get it done and have fun doing it. Thanks to the leadership of the PGA of America, the face of golf is changing.
Programs and initiatives such as Tee it Forward and Get Golf Ready are making the game more fun for all involved, and professionals are being encouraged to do things differently to make golf more attractive to a wider base. This is the perfect situation for my staff and for a facility like PGA National. We have a tremendous membership, and we have a world-class resort facility, and it is the perfect playground for upholding the integrity and history of this great sport all the while introducing new and innovative programs.
For example, we recently had a corporate group that didn’t want to play golf, but had time allocated for recreation, so my staff created a skills challenge for them. Skills included the chipping bulls eye, pitching for points, putting tic-tac-toe and Kwik Golf, which combines time and strokes.
We played music, served drinks, and developed the template for a fun afternoon. Professionals have been given the green light to do things differently, and this is a very exciting time for golf as a sport and as an industry, and I am proud to be part of the change.