Story by Vic Williams
It’s tucked between Palm Beach and Miami,it’s gorgeous and it’s luxurious. And with a good golf course on board, The Seagate Resort is the real deal.
When one of the world’s most respected golf teachers walks up to you on the practice tee of a freshly reopened and rejuvenated course on Florida’s Palm Coast and strikes up a half-hour conversation about everything from Tiger Woods to a certain writer’s need to “tilt away from the target,” you know it’s gonna be a good day.
Actually, it was a great 36 hours at Seagate Resort in Delray Beach, Florida, and its newly acquired Seagate Country Club. But this was definitely a highlight.
Just a week earlier, in mid-January, the classic Sunshine State layout was drowning under record rains, but here it was, revived and ready to roll in all its high-season glory. It’s the time of year when Craig Harmon, Butch’s older brother and a third of perhaps golf’s most famous teaching triumvirate, takes up part-time residence as Seagate’s director of instruction after 40-odd years as the head pro at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., a multi-major site with tons of history. Craig is a somewhat gentler version of Butch, quick with a quip or anecdote and an even quicker study of one’s golf move. He watched me knock a few irons out onto the spacious range, declared me an “over the ball” player and, with one simple adjustment, had me striking the sphere more crisply and accurately. Though I’ve since struggled to fully incorporate the new move into my game, I’ll treasure his impromptu lesson forever.
That led to the day’s main event: A round on the course itself, with the son of one of its original members to provide play-by-play on its fresh look and feel. Originally designed by Joe Lee in the 1960s, purchased by the hotel’s owners in 2012 and reopened in November 2013 after extensive work by Gene Bates, Seagate Country Club has new life not only for members but for resort guests who now have tee time access.
Overall it’s fairly standard Southeast fare with plenty of shots through pine tree corridors, around ponds and across ample bunker clusters to mostly elevated greens that remain on the old-school small side. It’s by turns tight and generous, with one or two holes — including the signature par-3 17th,
only 124 yards long but all over water to a peninsula green — pretty much summing up what South Florida golf is all about.
Says David Bossov, a Chicago-area resident who had brought his family south to escape the Polar Vortex, “The course is much better than it used to be. They took out a lot of trees, opened it up and generally made it a better experience.”
A solid stick himself, Bossov would like to see certain holes lengthened so Seagate approaches the 7,000-yard mark from the tips — on one he pointed to a copse of trees beyond the back tees that could be cleared — but for now he’s just happy to see it thrive after years of dwindling membership and dodgy finances. It’s the kind of club that will attract low-digit studs as well as more casual “social members” who want to enjoy the massive-but-tasteful clubhouse’s amenities, including two restaurants — fine dining upstairs, grill room style fare downstairs. I couldn’t help but hope that I’d find myself in Bossov’s group someday down the road.
The immediate plan, however, meant heading back down Atlantic Avenue, under Interstate 95, through Del Ray Beach’s stylish gantlet of shops, eateries and galleries, over the Intracoastal Waterway and to the Seagate Hotel, whose 154 rooms and suites definitely put it in the “boutique” realm but with a big-city finish that combines upscale weekend sleek (the lobby is all done up in a coastal earth tones, a big blue aquarium its centerpiece) with beach-meets-business weekday functionality. Meeting rooms share first-floor space with a coffee shop and the lovely, lively Atlantic Grille, where for lunch I enjoyed a quick wedge salad and the creamiest lobster bisque I’ve had in years. I walked three blocks to the beach itself, broad and white and strewn with covered cabanas as any self-respecting South Florida strand should be. I hung out in the semi-unseasonable January chill, counting the minutes to my late-afternoon rendezvous with Dana and her magic fingers.
Come again? Who? Magic what? Oh yeah … Dana. She was the real massage therapist deal, doling out 80 minutes of deep-tissue wizardry upon my travel-weary, middle-aged body at The Seagate Spa. Billed as the “Golfer’s Massage,” the session included not only an expert rubdown but some strategic stretching that put me in positions I hadn’t visited in a while. Maybe ever. Through her practiced and measured touch, Dana nudged my previously underserved and overworked hammies, rotator cuffs and hip abductors toward a newly awakened state. I walked back to my “superior room” at the adjacent, recently remodeled hotel in wobbly wonder.
And still my day wasn’t ready to wind down, though in the massage’s aftermath — which began in the 8,000-square-foot spa’s steam room — I’d have gladly
headed upstairs, climbed into my oversized jet tub and watched Sportscenter through the opened slider-window between bathroom and bedroom (a design feature I’ve come across at other resorts, and personally love). Instead I caught a shuttle to Seagate’s offsite Beach Club for a special “Full Moon Dinner” as, on cue, the bright orb rose over the Atlantic: classic French Onion soup followed by Roasted Branzino stuffed with tomato jam, savoy cabbage and red wine jus and served atop mashed potatoes. A glass of pinot along the way, some chocolate salted caramel lava cake to finish … and another wobbly walk out the front door, toward my all-too-temporary home.
If that’s the kind of experience Seagate Resort and its fine new golf partner dish out daily, I’ll have more, please.
Care to join me? Not a problem: Del Ray visitors can fly into Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach. Or Miami, another half hour south. It’s just a thought. Dana and her fingers send their best. So do Mr. Harmon and his peerless golf knowledge.
The Seagate Hotel & Spa is a luxury boutique resort in Delray Beach, Florida. The 154-room beach-inspired property offers upscale dining options, an 8,000-square-foot on-site spa and exclusive privileges at the private Seagate Beach Club, located less than a mile from the hotel, as well as access to the private Seagate Country Club, complete with championship golf courses, Har-Tru tennis courts, full-service clubhouse and more. Signature restaurant, Atlantic Grille, features contemporary American cuisine with a focus on locally sourced seafood. The Seagate Hotel & Spa offers nine meeting rooms totaling 14,000 square feet and banqueting for up to 300 guests. For more information or reservations, call 877-577-3243 or visit TheSeagateHotel.com.