Honda Classic Venue Renovation Returns Greens to Nicklaus’ Vision

By Leigh MacKay

“It should be won or lost right here.”

Everyone who has teed it up on The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa has read that pronouncement on the plaque beside the rampant bear statue on the 15th tee.

And everyone could ask the last four Honda victors—Justin Thomas (playoff with Luke List), Rickie Fowler (four strokes), Adam Scott (beat Sergio Garcia by one stroke), and Paddy Harrington (playoff with Daniel Berger) — just how important it was for them to successfully navigate Jack Nicklaus’s iconic three-hole “Bear Trap.” Words like “crucial,” “imperative,” “paramount,” “essential,” and “pivotal” would be rolling off their tongues like putts on a fast green.

For what Jack Nicklaus has created with his 1990 total redesign of the 1981 Tom and George Fazio layout and then renovated and refurbished in both 2002 and 2014 has become an enduring classic, as is The Honda Classic, on the PGA TOUR. And Nicklaus has been at it once again, closing “The Champ,” as the locals call it, for four months to modernize, restore, and reconstruct the 18 greens. More