Playing the Top 100 is rife with hurdles and pitfalls. Anyone who has been following my quest at this website knows that the largest and most difficult obstacle is the fact that about 85% of the courses are private and require a member host or sponsor to play. Searching for members is difficult when it comes to all clubs, but for a variety of reasons some are considerably more difficult than others. Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida is one of the most difficult ones on the list.
Seminole is only open for a 5-6 month period of time and as I understand it most of the members live outside of Florida during the summer. This leaves me once again searching nationwide for the proverbial snowball in a snowstorm. Guest play at Seminole must be accompanied by a member. For Seminole members who wish to have guests but are unable to play with them, there is a very small window for two member sponsored groups of unaccompanied guests each day.
In talking to my friends around town I did learn that my own club has three members who also belong to Seminole Golf Club. I didn’t personally know any of them and I wasn’t sure if they were approachable so I opted to not pursue that option. My plan was just to wait things out and see if any opportunity turned up.
One of the many great things about the Top 100 Quest is the incredible people I have met along the way. Golf is full of kind and friendly people who have been enormous supporters of my quest which never ceases to amaze me. One of those people is a young club pro from Michigan. Corey and I became friends about two years ago and like me Corey loves, appreciates and respects great golf courses. As a PGA professional he has had some wonderful opportunities to play a great number of Top 100 courses and he too is chasing the dream of playing them all. Corey also has the great fortune to work at a top quality club that includes a large number of members who belong to multiple clubs, many of them on the Top 100 list.
One of the members that Corey had become good friends with over the years is a gentleman who winters in Palm Beach and is a member of Seminole Golf Club. Unfortunately, this gentleman has been forced to largely give up golf due to his health, but he still enjoys the opportunity to share the Seminole experience with his friends. One day in January of this year I received a phone call from Corey who informed me that his member friend had sponsored an unaccompanied group and that Corey had a spot for me to join him! In the small world department I also learned that, independent of any connection through me, Corey happened to know my good friend Kyle and was inviting him to join our group as well. What a small world!
So when our day at Seminole finally arrives Kyle and I are up and out the door at the crack of dawn. We don’t want to miss a minute of the Seminole experience. We arrived at the club at 8:30 and the nice lady in the office opened her window and gave us the book to sign in before we made our way to the locker room. I have to say that it was a great feeling to write my name in the guest book. That simple little act was a bit of pinch me moment and drove home the gravity of the situation in which we were currently ensconced.
After signing in we headed up the stairs and across the patio to the locker room door. As we walked across the patio we looked to the left and took note of a beautiful pool area that didn’t look like it had seen much or any use at all. Later in the day Corey asked one of the staff members if anyone ever used the pool and the response was “There was a woman about 10 years ago who used to use it, but thats about it”. Nice.
I’ve been to many a great golf club and I’ve seen many great locker rooms. I’ve also heard too many times to count that such and such locker room was modeled after the Seminole Golf Club locker room. It’s nice when you finally get to the see the original in the flesh. The locker room here is simply incredible. It is a large room with super high ceilings, walls adorned with big game animal heads, comfy seating, incredible golf books, club tournament results and gorgeous wood lockers with the locker numbers cutouts at the top. Absolutely incredible. There are many that try to replicate it, but this was the genuine article. I could have hung out in there for hours.
As we were standing there, mouths hanging open, gazing around this golf mecca the locker room attendant introduced himself and set us up in our host’s locker. He gave us some direction on where to go and assured us that if we needed anything at all he could get it for us . . . except for strokes. We were on our own there. Corey had a little shoe disaster when he packed for the trip and inadvertently packed an unmatched pair of golf shoes. Ray had another pair for him but those didn’t fit quite right and Seminole Golf Club is not a place you want to have an ill fitting pair of shoes ruin your day. Have no fear. Our man in the locker room had everything covered. He pulled out pair of shoes in Corey’s size that fit perfectly and we were on our way.
Since we were playing unaccompanied we found the starter who promptly sent us to the range, short game area, and practice green until it was our time to go out. Once we were called to hit the first tee we grabbed some water at the halfway hut and giddily walked to the first tee where we decided to play from the 6,593 yard tees.
With no member playing in our group I was uncertain of the photo policy at Seminole, so I’m erring on the side of discretion. There are virtually no available photos on the internet so I assume that privacy is valued here. My overall impressions of the course were extremely positive. Going into this I didn’t really know what to expect. On one hand you have Florida golf which is largely flat and and has a reputation for being uninspiring. On the other hand you have Seminole Golf Club ranked in the Top 10 on virtually every Top 100 list there is. I just didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately the “other hand” wins. I found the golf course to be a wonderful spot with with its own unique personality. The course sits between sand dunes and where the perception of Florida golf courses is that they are flat expanses of green grass with manmade lakes Seminole has elevation changes, sandy waste areas and natural water hazards meandering through the property that are filled with brackish water from the intercoastal waterway. It is the antithesis of typical Florida golf. I was going to list the holes I really liked, but as I went through my notes I realized there were so many that it would be a meaningless exercise. From what I saw the entire place is fantastic.
While the course sits directly on the Atlantic Ocean there are really only two views of the ocean. The 13th and 17th tee boxes each have a view of the beach and ocean. Other than that the only evidence of the beach is the steady 25 mile an hour wind that, according to our caddies, blows nearly all the time. Apparently, the course does experience the occasional calm day, but by and large the wind is an everlasting presence. We had a fairly normal day with the 25 mile an hour winds and it certainly made the play interesting and presented a considerable test of golf.
After we begrudgingly holed out on the 18th and realized that our golf was over for the day we made our way back to the locker room where our shoes were cleaned up while we went to the grill for lunch. Two transfusions and one BLT later Kyle and I said goodbye to Corey and Ray and jumped in our car to make a mad rush to the airport. I made my flight by about 5 minutes and am typing this post from 20,000 feet in the air . . . I just couldn’t wait to get my thoughts down.
My overall opinion is that Seminole Golf Club is a wonderful and incredible golf club with a fantastic golf course. I found the course to be unique and distinctive which puts in on the very short list of golf courses I call my favorites. Overall it was a wonderful experience and one that I count among the very best I have had in my Top 100 Quest.