Game Changers

At The Park West Palm, Golf Means More

By Adam Stanley
Published on

Past the seafood market, the furniture stores, Havana Restaurant (serving “the best Cuban food in West Palm Beach!”), and next to a brand new playground sits a golf course.
But The Park in West Palm Beach, Florida, is so much more than just a course. It’s become a haven for local residents and youngsters alike where golf has no barriers.
And yesterday it got its moment in the spotlight – literally – with four of the game’s best competing in the latest edition of Capital One’s The Match. The 12-hole skins game under the lights took place at the facility that’s seemingly on the tip of the tongue of everyone in American golf.
“Our mission is not to be the best golf course in Florida or anything related to that,” says PGA of America Golf Professional Cody Sinkler, the Director of Golf Operations at The Park. “Our mission is simply to positively impact lives.”
Two-time PGA Champion Rory McIlroy played in the latest edition of The Match alongside multi-time PGA Tour winner Max Homa, 11-time LPGA Tour winner Lexi Thompson, and newly minted superstar Rose Zhang in the first mixed-gender version of the made-for-TV special.
Max Homa, Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson and Rory McIlroy during The Match. (Getty Images)
Max Homa, Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson and Rory McIlroy during The Match. (Getty Images)
Thompson, who calls southeast Florida home, has played The Park a few times and can’t wait for the unique opportunity to inspire another generation of golfers and golf fans.
“It’s different. That’s what golf needs,” Thompson said earlier this year. “I’m very honored to be part of it.”
While The Match is a special opportunity to showcase the talent of both men and women at the highest level, it’s the golf course that was the real hero for Monday’s competition.
A muni reborn in West Palm
The Park, located about 10 minutes from Palm Beach International Airport, features an 18-hole course co-designed by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and Dirk Zigg, a lighted short course — aptly named "The Lit 9" a TopTracer equipped driving range, a nine-hole putting course, and wide-ranging programming for local youth.
The putting course is free for anyone, anytime. The wedge-and-a-putter short course is free for kids under 12, and 10 bucks for high school kids. Those kids can play the big course for just $20 – about 10 percent of the fee for a regular tee-time booker. It’s half price for West Palm Beach residents – a thank-you for everything they did to help bring The Park back to life.
The old West Palm Beach Golf Course.
The old West Palm Beach Golf Course.
About a half-decade ago, the former West Palm Beach Golf Course was costing the city over $60,000 per month. It was closed in 2018. As this feature story on The Park explains, a group of passionate Palm Beach County golfers came together with big dreams for the layout. Ziff, Dan Stanton, and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh were the leaders of the group and took over the course on a long-term lease. They raised over $55 million from more than 130 donors, Hanse signed on and waived his design fee and Tiger Woods hit the ceremonial opening tee shot on April 17, 2023.
The 17th hole at The Park. (Trey Wren/Sticks Golf)
The 17th hole at The Park. (Trey Wren/Sticks Golf)
“From the beginning, the goal has been to make The Park into the happiest, most welcoming, most complete and most inclusive place in all of golf,” Waugh said at the facility’s re-opening. “We wanted to call it ‘The Park’ because this is 190 acres owned by the residents – and like a park it should be open to all.”
Opportunity through access
Sinkler, a PGA of America Member for five years, never knew anything about the old West Palm Beach muni but was immediately intrigued with The Park given who was involved and more importantly, why they were involved. After starting his career in Michigan he moved to a private club in Boyton Beach, Florida, and was there for almost a decade before he felt it time for a change.
Cody Sinkler, PGA.
Cody Sinkler, PGA.
“It just aligned with what I wanted to do with my career. It was a full-circle moment for me,” says Sinkler. “My mantra is ‘opportunity through access’ because when I was a teenager access to golf really provided me with opportunities in my life. I know what that is like personally. The impact you can make on the community is limited at a private club – people aren’t just allowed to come there.
“Coming full circle at The Park it felt like a good opportunity to pay that all back.”
Sinkler admits his friend group in high school “wasn’t the best” but playing golf helped to change the trajectory of his life. Now, he’s quick to point to the community programming The Park offers beyond just golf as a lynchpin for even more success for local kids.
On the golf course property is a community center that boasts free after-school offerings for kids enrolled in The Path — an outreach program dedicated to helping kids and young adults develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed in life. Monday to Thursday there are teachers who provide homework help.
Youngsters from The Path program.
Youngsters from The Path program.
There are more than 30 kids in the program currently and while they do mix in a little bit of golf, the point is to show golf – or the course itself – is not out of reach. There is one child in the program, Sinkler says, that is currently homeless.
During The Match, it’s not just the residents of West Palm Beach or the donors of the millions of dollars who can feel a sense of pride when they see McIlroy and Homa and Thompson and Zhang play the same holes they do on TV. It’s the kids who come to roll a few putts, crush a few chicken fingers, and maybe get help with math who are going to be just as excited.
“The kids can come here for their programming and it’s at this golf course everyone in the country is talking about,” Sinkler says.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is breaking down this barrier or this pedestal that golf seems to be on. These kids are here every day. And the golf course means something different to these kids. When they see it on TV they can take pride in that.”

Cody Sinkler, PGA