This Florida golf course is aiming to become one of the ‘most famous non-traditional’ clubs in the world. How?

LAKE WORTH, Fla. — Nestled on 100 acres of property just off Lake Worth Road, east of Florida’s Turnpike, is a golf course that is being transformed from vintage to one of the “most famous non-traditional” clubs in the world.

A bit ambitious? Maybe.

But maybe not.

What Mike Dahlstrom — known on these grounds at “Mikey D” — and the Paradigm Golf Group are doing at the 61-year-old Palm Beach National Golf Club — known as “The Nash” — is atypical and unconventional.

Want a free shot of flavored rum before your round? Come to the Nash.

Want to be amped by upbeat music to make your day on the range more enjoyable? Come to the Nash.

Want to hit those range balls into beer-ponged theme targets made up of red and blue barrels stacked on their sides? Come to the Nash.

Want Toptracer range technology and the ability to play Pebble Beach, St. Andrews and other iconic courses? Come to the Nash.

And want to play your round on a souped-up golf card with Bluetooth capabilities? Coming soon to the Nash. As is a $3.8 million clubhouse with garage doors that will open to covered hitting bays.

“Our mission is to attract all golfers, both traditional and non-traditional, to the game by providing a high-quality product and by providing personal service with a staff that (will make) your day a special one,” said Dahlstrom, 42, vice president of Paradigm Golf, which runs Palm Beach National.

“Along with technology and just an overall vibe.”

How does Mikey D, whose unofficial title is “VP of All Things Fun,” define vibe?

“A collection of all people’s energy and enthusiasm; personalities, character, all grouped into one to really create a fun spot.”

Disco ball decoration at an outdoor dining area near the food truck at the golf ball driving practice range at Palm Beach National Golf Club in Palm Beach County, Fla., on May 9, 2023.

Start your round with a shot

The walk to the old pro shop, which soon will be folded into the state-of-the-art clubhouse, passes a beach-themed area with wooden chairs, pink flamingos and a sign that reads: “Here for a good time.”

David Arney of Wellington has been golfing since 1966. Dahlstrom described him as a traditionalist. But Arney isn’t above a little fun, like warming up on a range with music blasting or his group slamming a shot of rum during their round.

“The energy here is the music. I love it,” Arney said. “It’s a great vibe. And through it all, with all of this happening, there has not been a hiccup at all. It’s a great example of a fun course.”

The concept of offering shots to those of legal drinking age as part of the round happened on Christmas Eve five years ago. Dahlstrom was tossing a bottle of Captain Morgan that was not completely empty and a customer wanted to make sure that liquid gold was not going to waste. Others saw what was happening and lined up.

“Many courses, people are bringing in their birdie juice,” Arney said. “I know there’s birdie juice waiting for me here. All I got to do is make the birdie.”

Dahlstrom started by offering Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey before settling on flavored rums.

“We had golfers losing shoes and falling in the bushes,” he said. “We toned it back.”

That’s about the only thing that is toned back. The energy is felt on the range that includes a food truck, lounge area, Cornhole boards and basketball hoop nearby. And there’s a disco ball hanging from a tree to add to the party atmosphere for those who want to hit at night under the stadium-style lights.

And when construction is complete, hopefully in about a year, Dahlstrom envisions Palm Beach National as a destination not just for golfers but for private parties and sports fans of all kind to watch games and hang out.

Food truck at Palm Beach National Golf Club in Palm Beach County, Fla., on May 9, 2023.

Shifting the vibe

Dahlstrom was conducting a short tour of the course one day this week when he stopped to allow a group of ladies to pass.

After exchanging pleasantries, Barbara Ganick of Lake Worth blurted out, “It’s Mikey D.”

Ganick has been playing at Palm Beach National for about 10 years.

“This has changed so much,” she said about the new “Nash.”

“It’s fabulous. And the most important thing the people who work here are the nicest.”

And not by accident. It’s a Dahlstrom requirement. “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice,” he said.

Just like he was as the ladies drove off in pursuit of their next birdie.

“Have a great day ladies,” he said.

Palm Beach National is owned by Rich Products Corporation. The company was losing money on the course and considered selling in 2006. Instead, it reached out to Paradigm in search of a makeover.

“They’ve allowed us to do what was needed to bring this property to its highest and best value and that was really just to shift the vibe,” Dahlstrom said.

Palm Beach National is one of three courses Paradigm is transforming into a high-energy, fun-filled experience. The others are in Mesa, Arizona, and on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

The changes have been gradual and the recent addition of Toptracer has enhanced the experience on the range.

“They’ve embraced it,” Dahlstrom said about the traditional golfers. “The conversion rate here on the driving range is remarkable. There is a learning curve to understanding how the technology works, how really neat it is, with all the different modes. It’s not just virtual golf.”

Golfers get feedback on ball speed, distance, carry, curve and proximity to target.

“It keeps you entertained as opposed to coming to a range and just seeing how fast you can hit a bucket of balls, and pounding them out into the abyss,” Dahlstrom said.

Part of that experience is the Smasher On app launched by Dahlstrom’s group that allows golfers to compete against each other, on world-famous courses, from their own range.

“It’s something people love to do,” Dahlstrom said. “You could do it on your own schedule. You could do it at your own pace. You could do it at your own skill level right here from the Toptracer range on 30 of the best golf courses in the world.”