Florida’s first coast, stretching from Amelia Island to Palm Coast, is known to golfers around the world as a prime destination to tee it up on vacation. There are 68 courses spanning the region, including The Players Stadium at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra. The Cherwell has ranked the world famous 17th hole, with its island green, number two in the world. Rounding out the top three are the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links in first place and the 18th hole of the Old Course, St. Andrews (all of which you can experience on tour with Elite Golf Experiences). TPC Sawgrass is the first course of its kind, designed with the spectator in mind. This stadium style golf course offers clear views with no two consecutive holes playing in the same direction. Designed by Pete Dye, this course was made to be the permanent home of The Players Championship. It is ranked the #1 course by Golf Advisor in 2017. TPC Sawgrass also offers Dye’s Valley Course, which holds its own challenges next to its sister course.
Visit World Golf Village in Saint Augustine to play at King & Bear, the only collaboration between Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The combined style of traditional Scottish links with newer American features and traditions makes for a unique course by these legendary golfers. Or you can start your day at Slammer & Squire, designed by Bobby Weed, with the input of Sam “the Slammer” Snead and Gene “the Squire” Sarazen. Known for its tricky par-3s, this course features an abundance of water with lakes and marshes and generous fairways.
The Palencia Club, also located in Saint Augustine, is a private club boasting a prestigious championship designed by Arthur Mills. Winding through oak trees along the Intracoastal Waterway and the Tolomato River, this masterpiece course has earned the honor of being named an Audubon Sanctuary for highlighting the natural beauty of the land.
Atlantic Beach Country Club hosts a traditional links style course with wide fairways and small rolling greens. Formerly known as Selve Marina Country Club, the iconic par-5 18th hole is where Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear recorded his first “double eagle.” You will have an unorgettable golfing experience as you take in the breathtaking landscape, ocean breeze and natural wild life.
Originally the site for the Greater Jacksonville Open, which would later develop into TPC Sawgrass, Hidden Hills Country Club features an Arnold Palmer Signature design. Championship tees allow you to play a true tournament course, while moving forward will allow for leveled play amongst your party. Russell Libby, current owner of Hidden Hills and PGA professional, says the course teases you to grab your driver, but it is best to simply put the ball in play. The strategically placed ponds, sharp doglegs and elevated greens provide the template for a great adventure on the course.
Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast is listed in Golf Digest’s “2018 Best Golf Resorts in Florida,” and for good reason. You will fall in love with the first coast as you play the Ocean Course, with six holes directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Rated one of the top 5 courses in Florida, Nicklaus’ final four, or “The Bear Claw,” will provide you with challenging winds off the water and postcard worthy views. The resort’s Conservatory Course is a true players course. What it lacks in ocean views it makes up for in surprising elevation changes, astutely positioned bunkers, heavy undulating greens, including an island green provide for a challenging layout. Your driver will see plenty of action with its lengthy holes, but look out for those hazards, you may have to scale back a bit if you find yourself spraying the ball around.
Your stay on Florida’s First Coast features more than some of the nation’s finest golfing experiences. Saint Augustine, America’s oldest city, is saturated with history and a rich culinary scene. Take a ride downtown on the trolley for a lesson as you take in the beautiful, Spanish architecture. Visit the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Enjoy a tour and free samples at the Saint Augustine Distillery, followed by a locally sourced culinary experience at The Ice Plant, featuring artistic, craft cocktails and unique dishes. You simply cannot see, or taste, it all in one trip.
Jacksonville’s evolving culinary scene has gained praise from Food & Wine. From the Riverside Arts Market, a weekly gathering of local vendors, artists and entertainers, to craft beer and food truck festivals or fine dining, Jacksonville offers endless choices for your palate.
And we can’t forget to mention the beaches. Saint Augustine Beach has been rated one of the top beaches in the country, but my favorite spot is Porpoise Point. Located on the inlet next to Vilano Beach, this stretch of sand located in a residential area boasts views of downtown Saint Augustine, Anastasia State Park, and the lighthouse. Enjoy the fishing and charter boats passing by and get close to marine life, with dolphin appearances and the occasional swim with a sea turtle.
Florida has long been a worldwide destination for its beaches, theme parks, beautiful weather, nature, and culture but it has been evolving into much more than that. Florida is a top destination for golf. From the beautiful courses and experiences at the World Golf Village to the majesty of TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida’s First Coast of Golf is the place to be for the informed Golf traveler.
Elite Golf Experiences is headquartered right in the heart of Florida’s First Coast of Golf and delivers the best in this extraordinary golf & lifestyle experience.
VP Business Development Elite Golf Experiences