Justin Thomas dips toe into course design

28-year-old PGA champion collaborating with Jack Nicklaus on Panther National, located in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the 1st course that will feature Thomas' name

Panther National
Jack Nicklaus, far right, speaks to Justin Thomas, second from right, and Panther National developers.

Justin Thomas, who has a PGA Championship to his credit, will get his first experience in golf course architecture with Jack Nicklaus, who has 18 majors and more than 425 courses to his credit, when they pair to design Panther National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Panther National, a community headed by Swiss developer Dominik Senn, will feature 218 luxury homes. Groundbreaking for the project was held Wednesday.

In addition to the 18-hole Nicklaus-Thomas collaboration, Panther National’s golf amenities will include a nine-hole par-3 course, short game area, training facilities and an indoor simulator.

Thomas told the Florida Times-Union on Wednesday he likes “old school” designs.

“My favorite holes are the short ones made more difficult with severe greens or rough or fairway pitching,” said Thomas, who first was interested in course design when as a kid he drew golf holes on napkins.

Thomas said that for him, this collaboration is about trying to soak up Nicklaus’ experience.

“I’m far from designing my own course,” he said. “I’m definitely in the learning phase. When the time is right, if and when I can design my own course, I’ll be excited for it but for now, I’m pretty excited to watch Picasso paint."