Tee Off on St. Augustine’s World-Class Golf Courses
Golfing Greats Swing from Sawgrass Golf Resort to the World Golf Village
A vacation centered around the Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa, a Marriott Resort means golf, golf... and golf. Aside from the Stadium Course, this second-largest golf resort in America is the home of the TPC Valley Course, a water-featured 18 holes modeled by course designers Pete Dye, Jerry Pate and Bobby Weed on the grand links of Scotland. The Sawgrass Country Club is 27 holes of par-72 play on three rotated courses, designed by Ed Seay of Palmer Course Design to combine the challenges of marsh (the East course), bunkers (West) and a narrow, long game on the South course. The Oak Bridge Country Club is both fast and forgiving, a tight course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay to bring the challenge of impeccable marksmanship into a beautiful natural setting. Marsh Landing Country Club is practically a nature preserve with golf flags; the course threaded along the Intracoastal Waterway lagoons and marshes, old-growth forest and namesake sawgrass giving new meaning to "rough."
If 99 holes of golf aren’t enough, a ride 25 miles south will reveal a temple to all things golf – the World Golf Hall of Fame. The centerpiece of World Golf Village, the Hall of Fame takes visitors on a journey from the very beginnings of the game in the 15th century to its greatest modern players. Take note of the variants and precursors to the game from Belgium and Holland, the replica of the famed Swilcan Burn Bridge from the Old Course at St. Andrews (actually in slightly better shape than the original) and the towering Trophy Room with a display of dazzling championship cups made of silver, ceramic or lead crystal. The Tower overlooks a full-size replica of the 17th green of the TPC Stadium Course.
Not that a replica is needed here at the home of two of the most famous courses in the world. Arnold Palmer laid out the original design of the King and Bear Course, tweaked and polished by Jack Nicklaus to become a magnificent par-72 field of play incorporating natural Florida beauty like no other. Native coquina rock highlights the paths, ribboning through ancient loblolly pines and old oaks. Meanwhile, the influence of player consultants Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen is apparent in the Slammer and Squire Course, hugging a wetland preserve as its deceptively pretty fairways lead to a challenging 18 holes.
Despite the competition, one of the most rewarding greens within the World Golf Village is the "19th Hole," a signature massage treatment offered at PGA TOUR Spa Laterra. The spa is focused on fitness and wellness as much as it is on relaxation, so you can schedule a "Mindful Golf" treatment that starts with an evaluation and ends with the implementation of a conditioning program customized for you by a golf personal trainer and instructor. And since there’s no gain without pain, the treatment also includes some time with a massage therapist.
A stay at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, St. Augustine Hotel & Suites at World Golf Village or the Grande Villas is mandatory to both enjoy a first-class vacation and sample the joys of its two courses. World Golf Village also offers both fine and casual dining within its perimeter including the, shall we say, "wacky" world of the Murray Brothers’ Caddyshack, combining golf, steaks and the minds of Bill Murray and his five brothers.
For the golf enthusiast, the stretch from St. Augustine to Ponte Vedra Beach can be a heady experience, with almost too many courses to mention. Here are a few of the most noteworthy others:
Hammock Beach Resort
200 Ocean Crest Dr, Palm Coast
Ray Floyd Saint Augustine Shores Golf Course
707 Shores Blvd., St. Augustine
Royal St. Augustine Golf & Country Club
301 Royal St. Augustine Pkwy., St. Augustine
St. Johns Golf Club
4900 Cypress Links Blvd., Elkton