Ski Club of the Palm Beaches
Organized in 1954, the Ski Club of the Palm Beaches is one of the oldest water ski clubs in the country. The group skied in Lake Osborne and Lake Ida until Okeeheelee Park opened to the public. The club has a history of national caliber competition skiers as well as show ski teams, with members going on to ski in shows at Cypress Gardens and Sea World, and some even going on to ski in the Pro Tour. The club began sponsoring tournaments in the early 60’s.
The club is a non-profit social organization of approximately 100 members with open membership. It is not a ski school, but rather a group of skiers working to promote the sport of water skiing. It was this interest, along with crowded conditions on Lake Osborne, which led club members to search for a quality ski site. In 1975, talks began with the Okeeheelee advisory committee on the possibility of a competition ski site in the park. Working with the County Commissions, the Parks Departments and the Advisory Committee, the Ski Club received approval to begin building the ski site.
The ski site at Okeeheelee opened to water skiers in 1981. The club contracted, paid for, and in many cases provided the physical labor to install the boat ramp, 10 boat docks, a ski jump, two slalom courses, and many judges’ towers. This has been an ongoing development project for the club and its volunteers. Okeeheelee now has 5 lakes developed and is considered by most to be one of the World’s Premier Water Ski Facilities.
The labor and funds to maintain the site are donated to the county by the Ski Club of Palm Beach. The site is open to anyone interested in competitive water skiing. Permits and guidelines are obtained from the Parks Department.
The combination of the exceptional ski site, the Palm Beach community, and access to area airports, hotels, restaurants and beaches makes Okeeheelee a premier year-round practice and tournament ski site.
The club sponsored the first professional tour competition in 1984 as well as many Southern Regional tournaments, 10 National Water Ski Championships, the 1989 World’s, early Pro Tour Events, the 2009 Big Dawg Finals and a minimum of 5 local tournaments per year. Since 1981, tournaments and practice at the ski facility have brought millions of dollars in revenue to the county.
Okeeheelee Park is truly a labor of love by numerous members who have shown their love for the sport of water skiing. Many thanks to Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation for giving them the opportunity to create this World Class Site.