PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - The Bear Trap, one of the toughest three-hole stretches of golf on the PGA TOUR, has also earned its place as one of most exciting spots in tournament golf to watch the best players in the world.
Fans who attend The Honda Classic know to find their way out to the 15th, 16th and 17th holes at PGA National Resort & Spa. The crowds out there have become enormous and the leaderboard swings add much anticipated excitement to the action.
The Bear Trap accounts for 18% of all bogeys, 33% of all doubles and 40% of all triples or worse on the Champion course. The field is a combined +2.571 over-par on holes 15-17 since 2007 with 974 balls in the water. And 325 of the 430 players, or 76%, who have played the Bear Trap since 2007 have hit a ball in the water.
There were 48 balls hit into the water at the 179-yard par three 15th hole in 2015 and 32 water balls on the 190-yard par-three 17th, including a miscue by eventual winner Padraig Harrington in Monday's rain-delayed fourth round that almost cost him a spot in the playoff. But Harrington rebounded with a birdie at No. 18 and knocked his shot at No. 17 to three feet to secure a victory over Daniel Berger.
“On Sunday when the pin is in the back right on No. 17, this is the hardest hole we play on TOUR,” says Robert Allenby.
But even more striking than the exciting play is the 75,320 square-foot portfolio of viewing and hospitality options for spectators to watch all of the action. From the 360-degree viewing platform at the 15th hole to the Cobra Puma Golf Village, Celebrity Cruises Wine Garden, FPL Patio and Gosling's Dark 'n Stormy Bear Trap at the signature 17th hole, the Bear Trap has grown into the most popular spot at The Honda Classic.
Here is a capsule rundown of the Bear Trap structures:
Bear’s Den Cabanas (PRIVATE)
Private cabanas overlooking the 14th green and 15th tee
15th Green “Public Party Zone” (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Public viewing deck with views of holes #12-16
ULTRA Deck at 16 (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
NEW for 2016 – the ULTRA Deck at 16 offers spectacular views of the 16th hole, as well as a hip environment with interactive digital & social media elements for selfies and other pictures, a great selection of beers (craft and tap beer) and food trucks with a variety of unique fare to choose from. You can even play shuffleboard.
Public Bleachers on 16 Green (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Over 100 public bleacher seats on the 16th green – includes views of tee shot and approach shot.
Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy Bear Trap & Cobra Puma Golf Village (UPGRADED TICKET)
The tournament’s infamous 28,000 square-foot marquee structure – includes front row viewing of the 16th green, 17th tee and green. Two large covered tent areas offer a variety of upscale food & beverage, tvs, and interactive areas. Enjoy the signature beverage of this monstrous structure – the Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy! A daily ticket to the Gosling's Dark `n Stormy Bear Trap or Cobra Puma Village is $125.
Cobra Puma Golf Village (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Get into the action by enjoying exclusive merchandise specials on Cobra Puma Golf products, test out the latest clubs from Cobra in an on-site swing simulator, or enjoy a drink and relax on the patio space as you get a close look at the golf action on the 17th hole.
Cobra Puma Golf Public Bleachers (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Over 400 public seats located on the 17th tee box at the Bear Trap. No one gets closer to the tee and this public viewing platform is courtesy of Cobra Puma Golf!
Acura Lounge (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Take a break from the action to enjoy the luxurious Acura Lounge – with high-end car displays and covered verandas, located between the 11th and 17th holes.
Patriots Outpost (PRIVATE – RESERVED FOR MILITARY SERVICE MEN/WOMEN)
In an effort to say “THANK YOU” to the men and women who have or currently are serving our great country, this structure allows military personnel (inclusive of veterans and retirees) to enjoy the tournament with all-inclusive food & beverage from Thursday to Sunday.
Celebrity Cruises Wine Garden (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Enjoy upscale wines from around the world while enjoying the tournament from a tower of luxury. Open to the public, this structure has premium sightlines of the signature par 3, 17th hole. Exclusive specials will be offered for bookings to Celebrity Cruises ships! A Daily Wine Tour Pack is $69.
Club Ketel One (OPEN TO PUBLIC – Age 21 and older)
This structure will redefine public hospitality as you know it. Club Ketel One offers stadium seating and an enclosed lounge with premium sightlines to all the action on the Par 3, 17th Hole. Enjoy Ketel One signature drinks, plus live tournament coverage on HD TV's, free wifi and a computer station to track tournament scores and stats.
FPL Patio (OPEN TO PUBLIC)
Thanks to FPL, patrons will have the opportunity to gain a front row seat on the 17th green, watching the players make their way around the exciting par 3 from a padded, upscale theatre style seat. Over 400 public seats located in this section.
Waterford Club (UPGRADED TICKET)
Shared hospitality marquee on the 17th green – an upgraded ticket with all-inclusive food and beverage on a daily basis.
Skysuites @ 17 Green (PRIVATE)
Private hospitality for companies looking to entertain in style – right behind the signature 17th green with direct sightlines back to the 17th tee.
Golfers who play the Champion course won't have trouble recognizing when they reach the Bear Trap -- there's a statue of a bear waiting for them on the 15th tee. On the welcoming plaque next to that bear statue, there is a quote from Nicklaus that simply says, "It should be won or lost right here."
“I don’t care if they make golf balls that go for a thousand yards. The Bear Trap will stand the test no matter what the equipment is,” Nicklaus said. "It’s not about length, it’s about precision. It’s about guts. It’s all about what do you have in your chest that you can finish those holes."
"You have to be pretty precise," 2012 Honda champ Rory McIlroy said. "You get through that stretch in even par for the week, you've done very well."
Daniel Berger played the stretch in five-under over four rounds in 2015, giving him a huge advantage over the field, and ended up in the playoff with Harrington.
“There are no bailouts. You have to commit and hit a good shot,” Tiger Woods said.
"There's a pretty good reason they call it the Bear Trap because if it doesn't get you one way, it's going to get you another," says Rory Sabbatini, the Honda's 2011 champion.
"Probably some of the toughest three holes in world golf really -- especially when the wind is up," Graeme McDowell said.
This year, you can even watch ordinary fans take a shot at the 17th hole in a Hole-in-One contest after play on Saturday. Five lucky contestants will take one swing for $1 million. If a Hole-In-One is made, the contestant gets $500,000 and Children's Healthcare Charity gets $500,000.
Grounds tickets, Bear Trap tickets and other hospitality tickets and packages are now on sale. CLICK HERE or call 1-844-846-6328. Individual Daily Grounds passes can be purchased in advance online or by phone or at the gate for an additional charge under the following schedule:
Daily Bear Trap tickets are $125 and several other hospitality packages are also available.
Admission into The Honda Classic is also FREE for kids 15 and under with a ticketed adult.
The Honda Classic awarded $2.555 million in charitable contributions after the 2015 event, about $27,000 more than the previous record of $2.528 million established in 2014. That makes it the ninth straight year that the tournament has elevated the impact it makes on South Florida children's charities through Honda Classic Cares philanthropic initiatives. And this time it was accomplished despite the major expense of cleaning the golf course after Saturday's storms and opening for an extra day on Monday when admission was free.