Course Spotlight

Why Every Golfer Needs to Play the Palm Beach Par 3

By Adam Stanley
Published on

(Photo courtesy of Nicholas Media)

The property the Palm Beach Par-3 course sits on is as elite as they come, with views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway throughout. It’s a walkable treat, with 18 holes ranging from just 81 yards to 211 yards. The vibes are immaculate. The pace of play is inspiring. And the people, well, they’re the reason there’s been so much success of late.
Tony Chateauvert has been a PGA of America Golf Professional for more than four decades and has been at the Palm Beach Par 3 since 2010. Chateauvert, the Head Professional and General Manager of the club, is often the first person people see as they check in or head off to the first tee. He’s quick to wax poetic about the three rules (well, “rules”) at the little slice of golfing heaven.
It's a place, Chateauvert says, that’s fast, friendly, and fun.
Doesn’t that sound idyllic?
According to a recent National Golf Foundation report, there are about 700 par 3 courses in the United States. Every state except one has a par-3 course with California boasting the most, followed closely by Florida. The most iconic is, likely, the one at Augusta National Golf Club – it gets its televised moment every spring and just underwent a renovation.
Down in Palm Beach (the par-3 course is located just off the A1A and covers just 39 acres), the celebrated layout – it’s been twice named the best par 3 in the country by Golf Digest – was opened in 1961. It was sold by the Phipps family to the Town of Palm Beach and the town ran it while hotels and condos popped up along the ocean through the 1960s and late 1970s. It was busy but there wasn’t a restaurant, and the service left a little to be desired. The town continued to have to invest money in the project as there was a financial shortfall each year.
Chateauvert’s predecessor parted ways with the club in 2009 and he was brought on the following year – after Raymond Floyd had already put in an effort as the designer of the renovated layout. Chateauvert had spent his entire career in his native New York working at both Bedford Golf & Tennis Club and then a public course in Bayside, Queens. He began his golf career working as a caddy when he was in high school at Quaker Ridge (near Winged Foot).
A number of holes run along the Atlantic Ocean at the Palm Beach Par 3. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
A number of holes run along the Atlantic Ocean at the Palm Beach Par 3. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
After his long-time tenure at a private club, Chateauvert knew there could be some improvements afoot at the Palm Beach Par 3, and he got to work.
“Even though it was on the ocean and obviously a cool golf course, it was just a bad experience,” Chateauvert admits.
He immediately began to install some new programs like singles night and twilight golf (“The average age was 80, but they still showed up!” Chateauvert says with a laugh), a parent-child tournament and a one-club tournament. There was an uptick in revenue and an uptick in their lessons program. They added a second cash register because there was always a line out the door.
After a few years of constant improvements – they had gone from 26,000 rounds to 31,000 rounds annually in about three years – the town decided it was appropriate to build a clubhouse, with the course finally making money. The two-story beauty (with a restaurant named Al Fresco that overlooks the ocean) was finished in 2014. That year they did 38,000 rounds.
The Par 3's 16th hole. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
The Par 3's 16th hole. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
With a big smile, Chateauvert remembers a conversation he had early on in his tenure.
“How hard is it to run a golf course on the ocean?” He remembers being asked. “Well, it was on the ocean when I got here, and you guys were still losing money!”
Now Chateauvert has changed the top-down culture of the club and success has followed. The growth, he says, has come from the 22-35-year-old demographic – they’re starting their careers in West Palm or Jupiter or Fort Lauderdale and they come to the Palm Beach Par 3 to golf and gather. And 62 percent of the golfers, Chateauvert says, are female.
Last year the course did 55,000 rounds – a new record. The shop did more than $880,000 in sales (it was $40,000 when he started) and the coaches did $550,000 worth of lessons (more than double when he started). The restaurant brought in $6.5 million.
The clubhouse, 18th and 14th greens. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
The clubhouse, 18th and 14th greens. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
“The restaurant kills it. The shop kills it. Our teaching pros kill it. The whole atmosphere is just friendly,” Chateauvert says.
While the success has been team oriented, Chateauvert has also quietly racked up individual accolades for his work over his four-decade career. He’s a multi-time winner of Metropolitan PGA Awards for his junior golf initiatives, has captured multiple South Florida PGA Awards, and in 2021, the Town of Palm Beach named him their Employee of the Year.
It's even been easy for Chateauvert to welcome his famous friends to the course. A couple of years ago Jimmy Dunne – well known in golf circles and president of Seminole Golf Club – rented out the Palm Beach Par 3 for the afternoon. The group that day included Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Jim Nantz and Rory McIlroy, amongst others.
“They were all here playing golf and I said the only difference between Seminole and the Palm Beach Par 3 is that everyone is smiling. And Tom Brady killed himself laughing,” Chateauvert says with a laugh.
The 17th green next to the ocean. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
The 17th green next to the ocean. (Photo by Nicholas Media)
“We’ve made it fun and I’m able to reach people at a public course that you can’t at a private club. They love golf and you should be sharing your enthusiasm for golf. And that’s how it should be.”