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Palm Beach Spins Back

Inside: Palm Beach Golf | Palm Beach Dining | Palm Beach Hotels | Palm Beach Plus

Claims about a golf destination's preeminence—"most courses per capita" is a current favorite—cannot always withstand empirical analysis. But it would sure be fun to try in Palm Beach County. Known as "Florida's Golf Capital," the epicenter of a state with more than 1,000 courses, Palm Beach County has earned the title the upstanding way: by having more courses rather than just fewer people, with a current total exceeding 160 tracks.

The area, home to PGA headquarters, is utterly golfcentric, with golf-equipment outlets as ubiquitous as convenience stores. Golf academies seem to exist in the same profusion as universities in Boston and Cambridge, and aspiring golf pros regard the region the way actors view Broadway. As icons among luxury golf resorts, The Breakers Palm Beach and Boca Raton Resort & Club have distinguished pedigrees; having apparently used the proceeds of the prosperous 1990s for massive doses of architectural Botox, they have never looked better.

Indeed, the area seems suffused with an energy at odds with anything like economic uncertainty, and part of its appeal is that it both is and is not your father's golf destination. Yes, the classic resort courses are still here, the best of which—at The Breakers and Boca Raton—have been splendidly refurbished. They have been joined in the past decade by instantly mandatory courses at Emerald Dunes, PGA Golf Club and PGA National. Couple that with the famous shopping and dining scene, and it's no wonder the county's appeal has become decidedly intergenerational.

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