Nicklaus Design to Renovate Sailfish Point


While new golf course construction in the U.S. is limited to a few high-profile projects each year, the market for “full-scale” renovations and “to-scale” restorations continues to soar.

Sailfish Point, a 532-acre luxury oceanfront community near Stuart, Fla., recently announced Nicklaus Design will return for a complete makeover of its nationally-ranked Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.

Opened in 1981, the captivating layout meanders through the waterways, wetlands and coastal dunes of Sailfish Point’s unique island setting. Unobstructed water views are available on nearly every hole, highlighted by the picturesque 614-yard par-5 14th with the St. Lucie Inlet in the background.

The Nicklaus Design team’s primary objective? Playability.

The 18th Green at Sailfish Point

Many courses built in the 80s and 90s emphasized power over precision, and difficulty over playability. While Sailfish Point was never known as one of the Golden Bear’s overly penal designs, the passing of time has impacted the course on many levels.

New forward tees will be installed on every hole, yielding a 4,500-yard option optimized for slower swing speeds. Golfers should reach more greens in regulation, thus improving pace of play and overall enjoyment.

In all, there will be six sets of tees capable of producing 10 different playing combinations. The back tees will stretch to 7,111 yards, so Sailfish Point can continue hosting competitive member and PGA sectional events.

The masterplan also calls for a 15 percent reduction in formal sand bunker area. “Team Nicklaus” is quick to point out, however, it will retain the signature high-flashed bunkers, one of the course’s original signatures. New advanced-tech bunker liners will hold sand in place during those heavy afternoon storms.

New Additions

Nicklaus Design lead architect Chad Goetz worked with members to effectively create a brand-new seventh hole. New forward tees will create a better angle of play for those laying up, and tweaks to the green location and rotation will give big hitters the opportunity to drive the ball onto the putting surface.

The par-3 12th will also under a major transformation, with expanded teeing areas, and the left greenside bunker will be reduced in size to create a larger bailout area.

According to Goetz, every hole on the golf course will be positively affected in some way, shape or form.

Upgraded Practice Area

The practice area at Sailfish Point currently looks like a lunar version of a TopGolf driving range. The range floor is a meticulously excavated blend of sandy, loamy soil and carefully shaped target greens and bunkers.

Aerial view of Sailfish Point

The practice putting green has been re-contoured and pushed out from 6,500 to 10,000-square-feet – an area large enough to accommodate one of the coastal community’s luxury residences.

New irrigation is being installed to nourish its soon-to-be-sprigged TifEagle Bermuda grass, which delivers superior putting speed and consistency.

All-in-all, the renovation – and expansion – of one of South Florida’s leading game improvement facilities is coming along nicely and is on track for reopening in October.

A fairway winding through the middle of the range floor flanked by practice greens and bunkers will help members get their golf fix while the course is closed. The greens are placed at distance intervals so golfers can replicate playing various hole lengths.

Saltwater tolerant Paspalum sod is already being installed on the hitting area and both the practice green and range floor are sprigged and ready for a rapid summer grow-in period.

Bright Future

According to PGA Director of Golf Vic Tortorici, the golf course will close in spring of 2021 for renovation and is scheduled to reopen by Thanksgiving. With the growing number of members calling Sailfish Point home year-round, the new practice facility will have its work cut out for it in keeping their golf itch scratched during that time.

“It will be up to the challenge,” says Tortorici. “We’re widening the south tee so it will accommodate up to 23 golfers and the north tee can fit 20. They’ll love the amount of turf we have to hit from. It will be 30 days until we have to cycle back to a teeing area.”

Coastal Living at Sailfish Point

And according to Tortorici, interest in golf memberships is rising as the Treasure Coast real estate market heats up. People from densely populated areas in the Northeast and Midwest, as well as points south like Miami-Dade County, are cashing out their primary residence to invest in their “vacation home for life.”

Home ownership is required for all membership types at Sailfish Point. A variety of move-in-ready luxury residences are available to suit a diverse array of buyers, from lock-and-leave townhomes and condos to sumptuous villas and spacious estate homes. Just as importantly, activities and amenities abound.

A recently re-imagined 60,000-square-foot clubhouse offers myriad dining options, two-story fitness center, aquatic center, tennis courts, full-service spa and access to a staggering five miles of pristine beach.

“We had a lull in March, April and the first part of May like everywhere else, but activity ramped back up in June once businesses started reopening and there was more clarity about our path forward,” says Sailfish Point Realty Broker and Managing Partner Kristen Cheskaty. “We’re anticipating a robust fall and peak season as people realize more flexibility by working remotely or opting for early retirement.”

For more information about the golf course, real estate and Sailfish Point lifestyle, visit




Shane Sharp

Shane Sharp is a longtime golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. In addition to running his content marketing business, Southbound 4, he's a regular contributor to GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc., Club Management and other golf magazines and websites.

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