Florida’s Citrus Golf Trail; Celebrating Christmas at the Jacaranda Hotel in Avon Park!

Christmas started for me a couple of weeks ago the moment I stepped inside the Jacaranda Hotel in Avon Park about an hour south of Orlando! Maybe it was the historic building, maybe it was all the decorations, or maybe it was old-timer Jeff Klein sitting there playing the old grand piano like he has for decades! What ever it was it was a magical experience much like waking up on Christmas morning when I was a kid! What a nostalgic place with an awesome holiday buffet lunch!
All part of the Citrus Golf Trail, the Value Golf Capital of the World! Like my hometown Triple Cities this area includes Sebring and Lake Placid (Florida not New York though there is a Dewey Decimal connection) along with Avon Park! Many great golf courses, hotels and other sites to see! Thanks for the great recommendation Casey Wohl Hartt! Merry Christmas to All!

Heading South to Explore the Citrus Golf Trail in Sebring, Avon Park, & Lake Placid, Florida!

Time to head South and explore the Citrus Golf Trail and the towns of Sebring, Avon Park, and Lake Placid, Florida!

Citrus-Golf-Trail-COLOR-1536x444Yes, you read correctly—Lake Placid, Florida; not Lake Placid, New York! They are Sister Cities and have one very important person in common—Dr. Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging library books. My kind of guy and my kind of town—Loj – the spelling of Lake Placid in Dewey’s simplified spelling approach. Not that I understand that or could find a book in the library if I had to!

VisitSebringLogoFinalLake Placid is also the Caladium Capital of the World! And YES I had to look it up too! With common names such as the Heart of Jesus and Angel Wings this is sure to be another one of my Spiritual Journeys too! Large Murals are present as well I hear!

Avon Park—the City of Charm with the authentic taste of Old Florida and the sweet taste of the area’s vibrant citrus industry.

 

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Sebring—namesake and host city for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Hint it is not a 12-hour round of golf or sleeping in! Sounds like something right up Bill Hughes’s “Alley!” Sebring is also known as “The City on the Circle.” Interested to check that out as I have a sort of Savannah pictured in my mind but with no corners!

I will be staying at the Inn on the Lakes which features stunning views that overlook the lakes and a wonderful gourmet dining experience at Chicanes! I like the address too—Golfview Road…

Other stops include a Distillery and another restaurant called Cowpokes Watering Hole which I know I will love just by the name of it!

Logo - Sun N LakeOpened in April 2018 by founder Don Davies, Sugar Sand Distillery is an estate-grown sugarcane farm distillery. Don Davies’ Distillery is a true Farm-To-Bottle operation which I hope to make a true Farm-To-Bottle-To-Mouth operation!.

But if you know me it is all about the golf, both historically and futuristically! Five courses in two days! Hey is the Masters cane get it done with limited sunlight in November, Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary can make it happen in December too!

sebring logoSebring Municipal GC, a 1925 W. H. ‘Bert’ Way design. Protege from England of Willie Dunn. Love the story where he followed Dunn to Biarritz, France but only lasted through one winter there! Sure to have played Dunn’s Signature Biarritz long par-3, long green hole many times. Then Way finds “his way,” following Dunn to America and introduces John D. Rockefeller to the game of golf, designs Firestone CC, and makes his way South to design Sebring Municipal GC! Way would eventually die in Florida two weeks shy of his 91st birthday. What a life!

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Futuristically (it is a word, I looked it up), you have Helmut Wyzisk III, President of Signature H Property Group buy the old Spring Lake Golf Resort a year ago. His plan to Revitalize, Rebrand, & Reposition the now Sebring International Golf Resort is impressive! I am excited to see the progress of the transformation of two existing 18-hole golf courses into one 27-hole Steve Smyers designed championship course and to play a newly constructed 12-hole short course!

rg logo 2Also on the rota for thus trip is River Greens Golf Course, a Jack Kidwell 1969 design owned & operated by the Davis Family—Lisa & Rodney! The Sun ‘n Lake Golf Club (love that name!) with its two golf courses—the longer 1976 Don Dyer designed Deer Run GC and the shorter 1999 Charles Ankrom designed Turtle Run GC.

Pinecrest Golf Club-01The Grand-Daddy (not me though I am one!) of them all to play (taking my hickory-shafted golf clubs) will be Pinecrest, a 1926 Donald Ross design! Pinecrest was the original host for the first 5 years of the JCPenney Classic (then called the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome) beginning in 1960 (inaugural won by Jim Turnesa and Gloria Armstrong)

And that is what this Citrus Trail Golf Fam Trip is all about—reviving the golf heritage of the area by re-instituting an amateur version of the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome. Press Conference on Thursday morning! More details about the Citrus Golf Trail Open Tournament coming soon… Save the Date—December 2-5, 2021!

#CitrusGolfTrail #VisitSebring #CitrusGolfTrailOpen

PS: All COVID Precautions are being taken and will be in place throughout this road trip!

Citrus Golf TrailOpen_Logo_FINAL

A Winter’s Walk around Charleston, South Carolina with my Grand Puppy Blue Bear!

What better than an early Winter’s Walk around Charleston, South Carolina with my Grand Puppy Blue Bear!

Nice afternoon walking around Charleston with Blue Bear! He is such a good travel companion! Interested in everybody & everything just like me! TROML Baby (An Exclamation of Joy and Gratitude)!!! 🙂❤🐶👍   (Facebook Post, Andy Reistetter, 11-29-20, with 30 Pics

 

 

Did some ‘Golf Bathing’ at Ron Tyre’s Laurel Island Links in Kingsland, Georgia!

Did some ‘Golf Bathing’ at Ron Tyre’s Laurel Island Links in Kingsland, Georgia!

I did some ‘Golf Bathing’ yesterday Sunday afternoon at Laurel Island Links Golf Club, my course away from home! I love walking 9 holes especially when the cost is only $10! A great 1996 Davis Love III signature design! Expertly owned, managed, & operated by the legendary Georgian Boy Wonder Ron Tyre! What value, what great exercise! Absolutely spectacular salt marsh views in two places on the first nine- holes 2/3 and then again at 6/7! I think they are the best salt marsh views in all of the Southeast! My biggest and only complaint about playing golf these days! The littering of golf balls! C’mon people pick up your darn golf balls, why are you leaving them behind? I have to pick them up, clean them up, & then take them to the First Tee of Jacksonville! Heard about ‘Hiking Bathing on my favorite TV show

CBS Sunday Morning yesterday, sounded interesting but ‘Golf Bathing’ is the BEST! Play well! 😃😎🏌️‍♂️🏌️🏌️‍♀️⛳️⛳️⛳️👍👍👍
(Facebook Post, Andy Reistetter, 10-26-20, with 30 Pics)

Here’s Your Invitation to Come, Stay & Play at the Newly Renovated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club!

20200922_073646In Northeast Florida, on what local folks call the First Coast of Florida, there lies on the Atlantic Ocean an enchanted destination called the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. One who has come to Ponte Vedra Beach before knows that there is the Old Ponte Vedra and then there is New Ponte Vedra. Both have transformed themselves in ways related to golf.

The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club sits in the center of the Old Ponte Vedra. Discovered in the early 20th Century, Ponte Vedra Beach was once called Mineral City because of the titanium and other mineral gems found here. Ironically, in the 1970s titanium would transform the performance of driving clubs in the game of golf. Boosted by the growth of the game, the PGA TOUR would seek a new permanent place to call home and find that home in the New Ponte Vedra.

20200923_195354The Heart of Ponte Vedra Beach is the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. This AAA Five-Diamond rated resort kept on beating since its birth in 1928 and is stronger than ever with its latest transformations. As it nears its centennial celebration, the Ocean and Peyton Houses—oceanfront accommodations—have been torn down and rebuilt to include 41 ultra-modern and extremely comfortable rooms and suites. Just across the street the Southeast’s favorite driving dream destination has now completed its renovation of the Ocean Golf Course. Remember that this historic links was the first golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach with the very first par-3 island green in the entire world!

20200923_200840The Ocean Course was renovated by famed golf course architect Bobby Weed, who incidentally renovated the sister, shorter yet as sporty, Lagoon Course in 2007. Though a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, its favored architect son is known throughout the world through his work at the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s. The ‘architect of architects’ Weed built from scratch the design and construction force which would became known as the TPC Network of golf courses. Now numbering 32 golf courses, the PGA TOUR branded clubs host 20 PGA TOUR events over its six tours! None of them more major than THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach!

CLICK HERE for VIDEO Interview with Bobby Weed!

With Bobby Weed at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club,

With Bobby Weed at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club,

Since Weed left the PGA TOUR in the mid 1980s he has designed four additional TPC courses. He left to rejoin the legendary Peter Dye after first working with him as an apprentice. Now a Dye collaborator, Weed’s relationship with Dye would number 45 years until Pete’s passing earlier this year. Since being on his own, Bobby has designed over a dozen new courses, most notably Michael Jordan’s course—The Grove XXIII, and renovated another twenty or so including the two at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

While the modern pedigree of the Ocean and Lagoon Courses is unquestionable, so too is it’s ancestry. In fact, the design of the Ocean Course has roots in the very Coming of Golf to America. The man who laid out the golf course in 1931 was the Englishman Herbert Strong who was a charter member of the PGA of America in 1917 and its first treasurer. In 1961 the first nine holes of the Lagoon Course were designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr., the second nine in 1977 by the prolific Joe Lee who mentored under the tutelage of the legendary Dick Wilson.

Photo Credit: Society of Golf Historians (Twitter).

Photo Credit: Society of Golf Historians (Twitter).

The Ocean Course was poised to host the 7th Ryder Cup, the first time that it was to be contested in Florida, in November 1939. The captains—Walter Hagen for the United States and Henry Cotton for Great Britain (pre-European Ryder Cup days)—had already selected most of their players before it was canceled on September 3rd by the British PGA because of the Declaration of War with Germany. Rumor has it that Captain Hagen vowed for the Ryder Cup to return to Ponte Vedra but it never did. Restarted in 1947 in Oregon with the financing of a Portland businessman, the Ryder Cup eventually came to Florida in 1983 at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens.

On a personal note, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club was the focus of my attention when I first arrived in Ponte Vedra Beach in 2008. I went there first to watch high school golf and later in 2012 to report on a World Junior Golf Series event being hosted personally by Herb Peyton—the local philanthropist, owner, and patriarch of the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. At the evening banquet, while Mr. Peyton welcomed and entertained the young amateur golfers from around the world by proudly whistling for them without moving his lips, Ty Votaw from the PGA TOUR wondered out loud and asked the assembled princesses and princes of golf a poignant question: How many of you will compete in the 2016 Golf Olympics in Rio de Janeiro or more likely, because of their age, in the 2020 Golf Olympics in Tokyo?

Soothing motorcycle rides down Ponte Vedra Beach Boulevard during the pandemic...

Soothing motorcycle rides down Ponte Vedra Beach Boulevard during the pandemic…

Of course I was the youngest-at-heart person in the room and a seed was planted that would germinate in me the following spring when the idea came to me at The Masters to take a ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.’ The thought of a golf writer to visit previous Olympic cities to extract the Olympic Spirit, then combine it with the history and tradition of golf, to define the Spirit of Olympic Golf, something no one on earth had experience in over one century of time. So in October of 2013 I embarked on a 100-day, 14-country, 18,471-mile odyssey that culminated in walking the new Olympic Golf Course with architect Gil Hanse and his team. In 2016, I would return to Rio for a month to envelop myself in the Summer Olympics to experience every moment of the men and women’s Olympic Golf competitions!

The 18th hole in mid April during the renovation...

The 18th hole in mid April during the renovation…

More recently, in this year of pandemic with social distancing and isolation setting in, a sun-setting motorcycle ride down the mansion-lined Ponte Vedra Boulevard through the graceful and palm tree-lined Inn & Club property brought stability, warmth, and hope into my life. I watched as the sandy dunes of the three finishing holes were again transformed into lush green fairways! While riding along I would envision how I would play the tricky par-3 16th hole, the difficult par-4 17th with its mountain of a green, perhaps the highest point in St, Johns County, certainly east of the Intracoastal Waterway, and the straight-away par-18th, a welcoming home hole felt like no other. The Heart of Ponte Vedra Beach kept my heart beating too!

So when I was asked to join in on a media day to play and experience the Bobby Weed newly renovated Ocean Course of the famed Ponte Vedra Inn and Club I was not only delighted but overjoyed too!

 CLICK HERE for a VIDEO of the famed Island Green par-3 9th Hole on the Ocean Course!

The new 178-yard par-3 13th hole!

The new 178-yard par-3 13th hole!

As for the actual renovation of the Ocean Course it is rather simple to state: it is glorious and extremely well done! I will defer to the glory to the pictures taken and shared below and your own future playing experience. I will simplify the layout changes made—the 10th hole was replaced by a world-class practice facility and a magnificent 178-yard par 3 13th hole was added on the north end of the property between the now split up to-and-from par-5 holes. Pristine land was consumed to make a better golf course in the wealthiest county in all of the state of Florida. I hope Mr. Peyton gets credit for this as one of his continuing philanthropic endeavors. The now 88-year old heck-of-a-regular guy unlike you and me commented after hammering his ceremonial course-opening first tee shot that he would no longer need to address any questions of an inferior practice range associated with a world-class golf course.

Make no mistake, this renovation was a complete renovation both above ground and below ground. In fact the renovation including moving ground as several greens were lowered. Most notably the island green on the par-3 9th hole has been visually enhanced making it easier to focus in on the target and then, if the ultimate success presents itself, to witness one’s ace of a lifetime!

All par shooters on the new 13th green (from Left to Right: Andy Reistetter, Mike Carroa, Rick Coffey, and Adam Schupak)!!!!

All par shooters on the new 13th green (from Left to Right: Andy Reistetter, Mike Carroa, Rick Coffey, and Adam Schupak)!!!!

I took note of one of Weed’s subtle design features as I prepared for my pitch into the par-5 12th green. There is a ridge that traverses the fairway about 15-20 yards short of the putting surface. The ridge appeared to me to be similar in shape to the ones created when the receding waters of the ocean hit the incoming waves on the glistening beach. Mesmerized a bit, I realized that it was the fairway equivalent of a false front of a green—hidden fairway that makes a shot appear shorter than it is in reality. Now thinking that I would not be deceived by the optics, I swung with grace but muffed my pitch eventually making a bogey instead of birdie. Golf is a game of instinct and minimal reaction. The beauty of golf course architecture is to be consumed yet not thought upon prior to the playing a stroke!

The pictures included speak of the beauty of this course renovation and the words of the video interview with Bobby Weed afterwards reveals some of his genius and perspectives of the two courses he has renovated at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. When I noted that everyone in our foursome—golf writer and biographer Adam Schupak, radio personality ‘Caddie Mike’ Corrao, Golf Channel National Sales Manager & Ringer Rick Coffey, and Yours Truly—had parred the new par-3 13th hole he responded in a Dye-less manner something like ‘Good Job.’

A heartfelt welcome from Michael Gordon, Vice-President and Resort General Manager. I am sure he will do the same for you!

A heartfelt welcome from Michael Gordon, Vice-President and Resort General Manager. I am sure he will do the same for you!

Come, stay, and play golf with your titanium driver at the Gem of Ponte Vedra Beach—at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its beautiful Ocean and Lagoon Golf Courses! Then when you go home you will take the memories of wonderful family times, romantic couple getaways, and magnificent golf in your mind and heart!

I would like to thank Michael Gordon, Vice-President and Resort General Manager and Jim Howard. Director of Golf for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary; Barbara Karasek of Paradise Advertising and James Cramer of CBJ for arranging! What a notable day in the history of the Ponte Vedra Beach Inn and Club!

 

Pictures from the renovated Ocean Course! Check out the wildlife!

Below the pictures are posts and selected comments from Facebook!

 

(Facebook Post with 30 Pics; 9-23-20; Andy Reistetter; 63 Likes; 24 Comments; 6 Shares):

Magical day at the AAA Five-Diamond rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club playing the newly Bobby Weed renovated Ocean Course. The course always was a test of golf and fun to play; more so now even in a brutal 2-club Nor’easter cross wind! Only par on the first nine was a par on the par-5 3rd hole courtesy of a Rahm/DJ-like 30-footer! My injured right heal loosen up for the second none as I managed 5 pars and a respectable Phil Lago-like score of 40. The greens run true and the fairways are well-grassed so it is hard to believe the course just opened up last Friday after a one-year renovation!

Designed originally by PGA of America charter member Herbert Strong, once redesigned by Robert Trent Sr, and now twice by famed architect Bobby Weed. If you know the TPC golf course network then you know Bobby Weed who started up and managed both the design and construction business for the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s. He just finished Michael Jordan’s golf course in Hobe Sound called The Grove XXIII. This course is posed to be a classic for another century!

The culinary experience under Chef de Cuisine Erik Osol were as exceptional as the golf! The blackened Mahi-Mahi sandwich was outstanding and of course the Arnold Palmer refreshing after a morning of swinging, wind, and sunshine!

Much more will be written about this ‘Play-Write’ golfing and dining experience. Obviously from the score you can tell I missed the warm-up at the new Practice Facility! Everyone in our foursome parred the new par-3 13th! What a day!

Many thanks to Vice President and Resort General Manager Michael Gordon; Head PGA Golf Professional Jim Howard and James Cramer of CBJ Communications and Barbara Emener Karasek of Paradise Advertising for hosting Andy’ Golf & Travel Diary!

Selected Comments:

Phil Lago: Andy, great article and pictures! You have captured the excitement we have experienced since Friday. The course is a true gem… I feel blessed to be able to play this course at least three times a week. I am looking forward to playing it without the northeaster wind that has been around this past week. 🙂 I second your kudos to Bobby Weed and wish to thank Jim Howard and his amazing staff. As good as the course his is, the men and women take such good care of us… I only hope they know how much we appreciate it.

Stan Lisk: I think I played there in the 70’s. Had the first Island green?

Mitch Laurance: Great stuff, Andy. Bobby is the real deal. 👍

 

(Facebook Post with 1 Video; 9-23-20; Andy Reistetter; 50 Likes; 12 Comments; 2 Shares):

CLICK HERE for VIDEO Interview with Bobby Weed!

Great interview with famed golf course architect Bobby Weed about one of the best golf & vacation destinations in the world right here in our back yard!🙋

Selected Comments:

Ann Dye: Bobby is a family favorite, Andy!

Phil Lago: Good interview. The ocean course had become old and tired. Bobby breathed new life into it and gave it some modern lines and a health that will carry it for a long time to come.

Pate Clarson: Great work!

 

(Facebook Post with 1 Video; 9-23-20; Andy Reistetter; 51 Likes; 25 Comments; 0 Shares):

 CLICK HERE for a VIDEO of the famed Island Green par-3 9th Hole on the Ocean Course!

Island Green Par-3 9th Hole… Ponte Vedra Inn & Club… Bobby Weed Renovation… deceptive… fake news… listen for the ‘kaplunk

Selected Comments:

Steve Johnson: Ya need more club ! LOL Andy, love PVI&C…two fun tracks…!

Gary Denman: I play an 8 iron on that hole . I like the new funnel in the middle of the green

Michael J. Corrao: It was at least a 3-club wind Andy! Great day my friend!

 

(Facebook Post with 1 Link; 10-7-20; Andy Reistetter; 5 Likes; 2 Comments; 0 Shares):

CLICK HERE for the LINK to the Bobby Weed Interview on the Bobby Weed Golf Design website!

Nice to be credited by Bobby Weed Golf Design @weed_golf

Ocean Course Media Day – Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary

Long-time area resident Bobby Weed spoke with golf writer Andy Reistetter at the @pontevedrainnclub’s Ocean Course.

Weed shared his insights on this fun, year-long capital improvement project.

Video credit: Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary

 

(Facebook Post with 7 Pictures; 9-21-20; Andy Reistetter; 85 Likes; 20 Comments; 3 Shares):

Selected Comments:

Michael Kaufmann: If God said, “Mike, you can only play one golf course for the rest of your life,” it would be hands down the Ocean Course.

Phil Lago: Andy, you are going to enjoy it. Bobby Weed did a nice job updating this grand old course. Besides the comments you made about the old 10th hole and the new par 3 on the back… Bobby lowered the greens… which is good for right now. As you know new greens are quite firm and at the moment they are very difficult landing a ball on the greens. But the new grass is spectacular and will get even better as they age. I love it! I have played it twice and will play it again almost every day this week. What time are you playing tomorrow?

Michael J. Corrao: Need a fourth Andy Reistetter? I am media after all

Very excited to play the newly renovated Ocean Course tomorrow at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club as part of a Media Day!

Home of the original Island Green circa 1931!

Sounds like Bobby Weed has made some big changes to the practice area and adding a new par-3 13th hole/eliminating the short par-4 10th!

I know member Phil Lago has already played it and there was a Ponte Vedra Inn & Club/Bobby Weed Design Company Grand Reopening last Friday with Herb Peyton hitting the ceremonial first drive! Who else has played it already over the weekend?

I love Bobby Weed’s work at the Slammer & Squire in St. Augustine and his renovation at the Medalist Club in Hobe Sound… I need to get out and play more golf as I am embarrassed to say I haven’t played any of his other 16 golf courses or 16 renovations listed on his website!

FORE, Now Driving, Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!

PRESS RELEASE below. Note ALL Pics credited to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club!

https://www.pontevedra.com/

https://www.bobbyweed.com/

http://www.andygolftraveldiary.com/

PONTE VEDRA INN & CLUB FAMED OCEAN COURSE OPENS AFTER
YEAR-LONG RENOVATION PROJECT
New Par-3, 13th Hole Among Changes to Golf Course and Infrastructure

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (September 21, 2020) — Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Ocean Course, one of Florida’s oldest and most iconic golf courses, has reopened after being closed for renovations over the past year.

The project, which was the third major renovation to the Ocean Course in its history, since 1928, was overseen by celebrated golf course architect Bobby Weed and included significant enhancements to the golf course and the practice facilities.

It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the reopening of the Ocean Course,” said Michael Gordon, Vice President and General Manager of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. “Today marks a culmination of hard work and tireless efforts to provide our members and resort guests the finest of golf experiences. The Ocean Course has long been a jewel of golf in the area and these enhancements will ensure that this continues for years to come.”

The upgrades included the expansion of the practice area into a full-service facility to hone all aspects of a player’s game, and the updating and modernization of golf course infrastructure. Notable is the addition of an exciting new hole on the back nine, the par-3, 13th.

Improvements to the practice areas include the teeing ground on the existing south tee being tripled in size and the addition of a teeing ground on the north end for PGA professional lessons with access to double-sided target greens and short-game precision greens. Just off the new 10th tee is a state-of-the-art short-game practice facility.

The updates to the practice facilities allowed for changes to the routing of and realignment of the golf holes on the golf course’s back 9. Along with the other changes, the former par-4, 10th hole was eliminated allowing for the construction of the new par-3, 13th hole on the north end of the property. With this change, the Ocean Course will now play to a challenging par of 71.

Other design changes to the golf course include lower green complexes and additional screening areas. The green at the 2nd hole was moved closer to the surrounding lagoon. The 9th hole, with its historic Island Green, has been visually enhanced to provide a better view of the putting surface, while the 14th hole offers players a completely new look from the tees making this hole a longer and more challenging par-5. The 17th hole now features an enlarged lagoon bordering the right side of the hole.

Enhancements to the infrastructure of the golf course included having all 18 greens rebuilt to meet current USGA standards and grassed with TifEagle Ultradwarf bermudagrass. The project saw all tee boxes rebuilt and grassed with TifGrand bermuda grass and all in-play areas were re-grassed with Celebration bermudagrass.

Additionally, golf course bunkers were rebuilt and reconfigured with an emphasis on strategy, overall aesthetics, and maintainability. Expansive swaths of non-turf screening areas were introduced, reducing irrigated and maintained rough grasses while adding a striking visual contrast and strategic value to the design of the Ocean Course. The renovation also included the rebuilding and refurbishment of bridges and bulkheads and a complete overhaul of the irrigation system.

The Ocean Course, which was designed by British golf course architect Herbert Strong, opened in 1931 and had subsequent major renovations in 1947 by Robert Trent Jones and in 1998 by Weed. The course was selected as host of the 1939 Ryder Cup Matches, but the competition was cancelled due to the start of World War II. The Ocean Course has also served as the site of the U.S. Open qualifying five times and has been the host of the Gate Invitational since 1985.

In addition to debuting the renovations at the Ocean Course, the resort also unveiled two new beachfront buildings as part of its repertoire of 262 rooms. Modern beachside luxury is now the ultimate lure for guests at the Ocean House and Peyton House. Steps away from the Ocean Course and The Racquet Club, the new 41 guest rooms and suites provide guests the luxury indulgence of an ocean-front boutique destination. These well-appointed accommodations, some featuring room connectors, are designed in a chic, southern coastal fashion that honors the spirit and heritage of this memorable resort. Each room and suite seamlessly extends to generous private terraces or patios that lead directly to our world-renowned beach.

Images available here: GOLF / FULL RESORT

ABOUT PONTE VEDRA INN & CLUB
Opened in 1928, the historic AAA Five-Diamond Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is the paramount Northeast Florida luxury escape. For over 90 years, the resort has set world-class standards as the picture of quiet grandeur, grace and story. Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club Ponte Vedra Beach bookend a stunning 1.5 mile stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean, providing a picturesque oceanside setting that is at once elegant and approachable.

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club boasts 262 lavishly-appointed guest rooms and suites, inclusive of the new Ocean House and Peyton House. Resort beachfront rooms open directly onto the beach, allowing guests the delight of stepping right onto the sand with only a short walk to the surf. Featuring elegant, coastal-inspired décor, each room seamlessly blends sophistication and comfort, complete with striking views of the ocean, natural lagoons and famous island green. A sanctuary for adults and a playground for children, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is an ideal destination for family vacations, romantic excursions, golf getaways, weddings, corporate meetings, and group retreats alike.

Celebrated for its year-round recreation and world-class amenities, the resort features two championship golf courses – the iconic Ocean Course, newly renovated in 2020, and the water-lined Lagoon Course – a sprawling 30,000 sq ft spa, The Racquet Club tennis facilities, three pools, an 8,000 square foot fitness center with direct ocean views, the Surf Club and its endless beach and outdoor activities, as well as a wide range of culinary options by Erik Osol, celebrated Chef de Cuisine.

Conveniently situated 20 miles southeast of downtown Jacksonville, a 35-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), less than two hours north of Orlando, and six hours by car or one hour by air from Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport (ATL).

Additional information can be found at www.pontevedra.com.

An Honor to Play with Veterans & Patriots at the CC of Gwinnett outside of Atlanta!

1Even though our scores don’t always reflect it, things usually work out in golf!

Whenever Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary travels to Atlanta a great golf outing at a great golf course always seems to present itself!

Definitely so on the people side of golf if you know a guy like Bob Thibodeau! Bob is well established in the Atlanta golf community as the Veterans Outreach Director at the Adaptive Golf Association with ties to the Georgia State Golf Association. A Vietnam Veteran himself it was an honor to play with him and a Veterans Play Group on Patriot Golf Day—Labor Day Monday—at the Country Club of Gwinnett just outside of Atlanta!

Most golfers are aware of Patriot Golf Day. A fundraising day of golf to support the FOLDS of HONOR scholarships and PGA HOPE.

What an honor to tee it up with these Veterans on Patriot Golf Day!

What an honor to tee it up with these Veterans on Patriot Golf Day!

Those FOLDS of HONOR scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled members of the Military Service number 3,802 this year and total 28,000 since 2007 when Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney started the charitable organization. One fateful day he was on a commercial flight that landed with the pilot requesting all passengers to remain seated until they first removed the casket of a fallen soldier. Dan watched as the deceased’s twin brother walked somberly alongside the flag-covered casket to meet his family including a young son. Over half the passengers could not be bothered and disrespectfully got up and walked off the plane without acknowledging the tribute. The Folds of Honor Foundation; a 501C-3 nonprofit organization, was born that day and their motto says it best—“Honor Their Sacrifice. Educate Their Legacy.”

PGA ‘HOPE’ which stands for “Helping Our Patriots Everywhere,” is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. PGA HOPE introduces golf to Veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.

According to the PGA of America’s website, the program introduces the game of golf through a developmental 6-to-8 week curriculum, taught by PGA Professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency. All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations, so the cost of programming is free to all Veterans.

Don was and is our rock!

Don was and is our rock!

But what happens after a veteran completes the PGA of America programs? Once introduced to the game of golf, where do veterans with disabilities play the game in a way that maintains or improves their health? That’s where Bob Thibodeau comes into the picture. Bob T. or Mr. T as I like to say, worked with lots of folks earlier in the year to make the Veterans’ Play Group a reality at the CC of Gwinnett. This group included L&J Acquisitions, the owners of the CC of Gwinnett; the club’s General Manager Doug Cartin and Heidi Mitchell, LPGA /Adaptive Golf Instructor. Bob also teamed up with the veterans themselves including Tony the leader of the Veterans’ Play Group at Gwinnett and Don, a fully disabled veteran who we teed it up with on Patriot Golf Day.

The informal outing, spirited scramble format, and par-3 proximity competitions were all pretty normal except some of the guys had pieces of titanium where I have flesh. There was definitely a patriotic spirit present, lots of camaraderie and some good golf too!

The CC of Gwinnett was the first Steve Melnyk design I have ever played and I liked it very much. The first nine meanders upward from the clubhouse out-and-back in a clockwise manner on beautiful slightly sloping golf land! On the first, a short risk-reward par-4, I took the risk with no reward while Don layed up short of the creek and pitched a nice one onto the green. I was fortunate to make the 30-footer and we were off to a great start!

Beautiful lake! Beautiful vistas! Has the East Lake flair about it in terms of beauty, history, & golfing traditions!

Beautiful lake! Beautiful vistas! Has the East Lake flair about it in terms of beauty, history, & golfing traditions!

There are many memorable holes on Melnyk’s Masterpiece; as memorable as his United States and British Amateur Championships! Though he played in 19 Majors and 335 PGA TOUR events, Melnyk never won on tour though he parlayed that experience into a notable golf broadcaster for 22 years with CBS Sports, ABC Sports and ESPN. He even had the nickname of Jim Furyk’s caddie Mike Cowan before he did. The memorable holes to me are the short downhill par-4 4th hole (they can’t all be uphill) with a distinctive hedge behind the green and the uphill par-3 6th hole which has Georgia rock outcroppings short and long of the green. Especially challenging with a left hole location as it was on the day we labored on holiday around the CC of Gwinnett! I also found the intact stone fireplace with missing house an interesting curiosity on the left side of the 7th fairway.

With Doug Cartin and Bob Thobodeau (center)!

With Doug Cartin and Bob Thobodeau (center)!

A large lake divides the first and second nine. I am curious if the lake was part of the golf course design or created previously though I was unable to reach Steve for comment. While within 10 miles of Stone Mountain and with rock outcroppings to prove it, the lake and Melnyk’s counterclockwise routing around it with the 13th, 14th, and 15th holes stacked on the far side reminded me of East Lake Golf Club which is another 10 miles past Stone Mountain to the West.

While it is the type of golf course where you remember all the holes, the memorable ones to me on the second nine include the par-4 12th where the tee shot needs to be layed up short of an inlet from the lake and the par-3 16th hole with an elevated tee shot to the green defined short, left, and beyond by lake water! Great design throughout and in great condition too!

Heidi is a LPGA world class teaching phenomenon!

Heidi is a LPGA world class teaching phenomenon!

I love, respect, and honor all women and men that serve in our military. My older brother David was a Navy ROTC officer and served during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t until later in his life that my father shared the details of his military service during World War II. He lost his brother Paul in the war and suffered like so many even after he returned home victoriously. We all know a veteran and that patriotic feeling if not oneself a veteran then from someone close to you. Veterans are memorialized by war while at times also immobilized spiritually, emotionally, mentally and/or physically. The reality is that most wounds of war are unseen. That is why it is good for veterans to get up and get out with other veterans. Also why it is good for us nonmilitary to be around veterans disabled or not to show our gratitude for their service to us and our country and to share some good times in a country that they protect and preserve!

During my ongoing 13 years on tour the single most impactful moment to me happened on Saturday, July 4th at the Congressional CC during the 2009 AT&T National. I was working the last group as David Feherty’s cart driver. It is an easy job since he walks most of the time and drinks little water during the round. But on the 17th hole he told me to go up to the 18th tee and make sure ‘the guy in the wheelchair was ready to go.” The guy was Army Spc. Brendan Marrocco, who less than four months earlier had lost all four of his limbs to an Improvised Explosive Device in Iraq, was “ready to go.” After the players teed off, Tiger Woods came over and gave him a “fist bump” and then David Feherty wheeled the disabled veteran down the 18th fairway ahead of the golfers. There was tremendous applause from the gallery. Marricci had come home to an appreciative country!

Good day. Inspirational day! Thank you Bob & Don for making it so special! Thank you to Doug Cartin & the CC of Gwinnett for hosting Ansy's Golf & Travel Diary!

Good day. Inspirational day! Thank you Bob & Don for making it so special! Thank you to Doug Cartin & the CC of Gwinnett for hosting Ansy’s Golf & Travel Diary!

People, all people, including disabled veterans just want to be treated same as we like to be treated; as a human being, different yet no different; diverse, yet the same on the golf course and with camaraderie… drives, irons and putts… the ball does not know who swings the club; why should we care? Let’s enjoy the game and the camaraderie especially on Patriot Golf Day!

Oh by the way, Steve Melnyk’s nickname is ‘Fluff,’ We closed with a 6-under 65 and Yours Truly won proximity on the rock outcropping hole!

Good day. Inspirational day!

Thank you to ALL our veterans! We salute you!

 

Play Hampton Golf Village in North Georgia; Experiencing The Trifecta of Golf in Atlanta!

Play Hampton Golf Village in North Georgia; Experiencing The Trifecta of Golf in Atlanta!

5How good is it to be a golf & travel writer! I met a new friend Bob Thibodeau from Atlanta earlier this year at the 2020 PGA Show in Orlando. I went to Atlanta to visit my son, daughter-in-love, and grandson in Atlanta. Bob Thibodeau sets up a golf game at Hampton Golf Village in Cumming in North Georgia. A beautiful part of the state where one can go directly north from the Atlanta metro area, touch the Blue Ridge Mountains, and enter North Carolina directly while bypassing South Carolina. Pure Paradise! Nothing against South Carolina, in fact I love South Carolina too! I am a Hilton Head Hillbilly! Just a piece of geographical trivia! Bob Thibodeau’s friends Gary and Bob S. make it a memorable foursome on an impressive golf course on a day I played my best in many years!

Experience the Trifecta of Golf—playing a great golf course—playing with three other good guys (or women too!)— and scoring well—at Hampton Golf Village in Cumming, Georgia on a perfect Spring day!

Granted it was a social golf outing for the most part. First time seeing the course and first time playing with these guys. In the midst of a work week of doing some hard labor helping my son remodel his home. Expectations were high for having a good time but low in regards to playing well. Hey I am 60 now but then again I think the Bobs may be in their early 70s and I know Gary is 85 years young! I was the young puppy in the foursome!

1After a brief warm up and socially distanced pic of the foursome, we teed off right on time. I think one instinctively knows a well-run golf course from the little bits and pieces of gathered subconsciously from arrival to clubhouse to pro shop to getting cart to practice facility to meeting the starter and teeing off. I can tell you two things about Hampton Golf Village—it is a well-run golf operation and business has been booming since the COVID-19 Pandemic. We played Hampton Golf Village on Day No. 33 of the Recovery after the seven weeks of being quarantined yet able to exercise in a healthy manner while playing golf! A couple of days before they had 310 golfers all playing, as we did in about four hours or less!

Immediately the golf course fit my eye! It is true what the professional golfers say and do when a golf course fits their eye. It is easier to go low whether that is a run at breaking 60, 80 or 100! Just look at these pictures! Definitely a golf course that looks hard but plays easier, at least the first time you play it and have no clue where the danger is! Ours was a positive foursome, we dreamed of keeping it in play, making some pars, and maybe even scoring a birdie or two along the way! On a day when all the bounces seemed to be back into the fairway or onto the green we all enjoyed our round of golf!

2Hampton Golf Village is a varied and interesting layout. A little up and down though not extremely so. A little over here and then over there though the routing finds its way back to the clubhouse for the turn. The second nine seems to flatten out a bit more and open up a bit more yet concludes with a difficult, tight hole with a forced carry at the green. A driver, hybrid-4 and a missed eight-footer for birdie ended my round there with absolutely no regrets. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Clyde Johnston, the architect who designed Hampton Golf Village, is in my 1981 first edition of Cornish and Whitten’s “The Architects of Golf.” That is a good thing! Hampton Golf Village, opened in 2000 is not but there are 20 or so golf courses listed that Clyde designed anew like Hampton or remodeled or expanded. Remember that snapshot was taken 40 years ago! Son of onetime Wake Forest coach Johnny Johnston, Clyde has collaborated on a few golf courses with Fuzzy Zoeller. I bet there are a few stories there! Hampton is a thoroughbred of a golf course to say the least!

10Per the ‘Clyde Johnston Designs’ website—Johnston has now completed over 75 golf course design projects, both new designs and redesigns. Johnston has received awards for several of his designs including Cherry Blossom GC, Heather Glen Golf Links, Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, Old South Golf Links and Covered Bridge Golf Club, owned and co-designed by Fuzzy Zoeller. I am surprised that he did not win an award for Hampton Golf Village as it was a nominee for Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course of 2000!

Great golf course… What more can you ask for?

How about a great foursome?

9Gary, the youngster at 85, seemed to go about his golf game as I imagine he did his family and career—with vigor, focus, determination and success all while enjoying it immensely! As a teacher-turned-Warden of the Students- a.k.a. known as my Pal the Principal you could tell he placed emphasis on learning and learning how to play the game right since taking it up in his mid 50s! A college basketball player who played for Jacksonville State in Alabama when six-foot-three guys could play center. This man putts like an inspired-the-right-way demon with a Scotty Cameron his wife bought him 4-5 years ago.

Bob S. and Gary have been friends for the last 20 years or so. They lived in the neighborhood together but became good friends when their wives took up golf. A career that reached the highest levels of civil service for the United States Government, Bob S. was the comptroller for FEMA, but with his solid game no disaster relief was needed on the day we teed it up together! We spoke of our travels to New Zealand where unbelievably he played no golf. A smart man, with a lovely wife, that must be obeyed!

24I knew Bob Thibodeau to be a man of great integrity when I first met him at the PGA Show. He along with others responded immediately to my plea for help to get a friend with an amputated right leg back up and out and playing golf again. Sadly my friend has since passed but God and the golfing god has presented me with a new golfing and life friend!

Bob Thibodeau, a Veteran who served his country in Vietnam is a man on the move involved and actively pursuing a lot of meaningful initiatives!

First and foremost is the way I met him as an Outreach Leader & Coach for Adaptive Golf—a way designed for adults, juniors, and veterans of all generations with any physical, cognitive and/or sensory impairments such as: stroke, spine injury, limb loss, TBI, PTSD, MS, MD, joint replacements, cerebral palsy, macular degeneration, Parkinson’s, spina bifida, low vision/blind, hearing loss, orthopedic, arthritis, diabetes and more such as autism to get out and play golf for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health benefits.

0 Shoot Your AgeBob Tthibodeau is writing a book on Adaptive Golf in conjunction with the United States Golf Association and the Georgia State Golf Association. He also has a draft for his book on ‘Shooting Your Age (SYA)!’ All of which, obviously, has endeared me more to him since we first met!

Not if but when will you shoot your age?

Gary does it regularly; the Bobs are getting close and it is a dream for me but certainly an addition to the Life’s Bucket List! Hopefully and maybe even before my date with par in my life in twelve years! Something to bring into focus and work on!

Bob Thibodeau met Bob S. and Gary as part of the “Carter Group” at the Hampton Golf Village. Carter is a guy that has amassed a group of what I can tell of about 50-60 golfers that play in a somewhat organized way at Hampton Golf Village. Something tells me my experience and knowledge of the golfing experience at Hampton Golf Village may be somewhat limited until I get a chance to meet and play a round with the somewhat mysterious Mr. Carter!

Great golf course… Great foursome… What more can you ask for than a Daily Double?

A great golf score- right?

30Let’s suffice it to say my focus for the round was to have fun, get to know these great guys, and enjoy a great golf course. I certainly did that! A funny thing though happened on the 8th hole while enduring my fifth bogey in a row. A little voice inside my head said that with a little more focus on playing my golf shots in the midst of enjoying my social golf that I could possibly score well on the remaining eleven holes. Possibly break 80… So I did and the rest is written on the scorecard, signed, and attested! Ten pars and a birdie on the way past and then back to the clubhouse! One under par on the second nine and a remarkable (for me) and rememberable (for me hopefully) golf score of 76!

Indeed, I played Hampton Golf Village and experienced The Trifecta of Golf!

I hope you will too!

Thank you to Head PGA Golf Professional Shaun Kelley for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!

 

 

ECO-Polo Golf Shirt: Save the Environment while Playing Golf in Comfort & Style!

ECO-Polo Golf Shirt: Save the Environment while Playing Golf in Comfort & Style!

CLICK here to purchase your ECO-Polo golf shirt at the All 19 Holes® website!

4 Andy Eco Polo CloseupSo back in the late 1980s I worked in the plastic industry gaining first hand experience recycling grocery bags into planks of plastic lumber used for decks and boardwalks. Little did I realize that 40 years later I would be playing golf wearing an ECO-Polo golf shirt made from recycled plastic bottles!

Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle is the way to solving our environmental waste management opportunity and this company—All 19 Holes®—is doing their part in style!

I love wearing my ECO-Polo golf shirt and see or feel no difference versus other top-line apparel in the Golf World! It’s comfortable, extremely lightweight, and stylish! So lightweight that even in the midst of a hot and humid Georgia day and a perspiring Yours Truly, the shirt felt as light as dry and did not impact my swing in any way!

MaxDri moisture management; Micoblok, an anti-microbial finish; and being recycled plastic bottles: make no mistake this is the highest of high tech golf shirt!

More on the ECO-Polo golf shirt from the All 19 Holes® website!:

2 ECO POLO 19 Made in USAThe innovative ECO-Polo is a shirt made entirely from the world’s finest recycled polyester.

All 19 Holes developed the ECO-Polo to meet its goal of environmental sustainability, style, and performance. And the ECO-Polo exceeded the company’s goals. Each shirt performs at the highest level possible, looks impeccable, and helps remove a small but important portion of the plastic pollution from the environment.

The ECO-Polo is up-cycled from eight to 12 plastic bottles retrieved from the ocean, a lake or a landfill, depending on the size.

3 ECO PoloThe ECO-Polo’s recycled performance polyester fabric provides wicking, odor control, and is water resistant. The flat back honeycomb mesh features MaxDri moisture management and Micoblok, an anti-microbial finish. These technologies make the ECO-Polo comfortable for golfing or any activity. Fuse these benefits with a proprietary pattern cut for fashion and help reduce plastic pollution, the company feels strongly the ECO-Polo will be a category leader in golf.

100% Recycled Polyester from recycled plastic water bottles harvested rom the ocean and landfills. Super-soft environmentally friendly sport flat back honeycomb mesh with MaxDri moisture management & Microblok anti-microbial finish. It stretches nicely for golfing, keeps its shape, wicks moisture, with an anti-microbial finish to keep things fresh, looks great and has a perforated weave so it has some character. Also has a proper collar, with buttons imported from Italy so looks great under a sport coat. Available in black or white, with a variety of contract colors around and under the collar.

100% MADE IN USA

We recommend washing the ECO-Polo in a cold and gentle cycle. Do not bleach, tumble dry, or dry clean. When ironing, use low heat.

More on the folks behind the ECO-Polo golf shirt and this golf lifestyle- PLUS from the All 19 Holes® website!

5 Andy ECO Polo TeeAll 19 Holes® is about going the extra distance to live life to the fullest. We play golf, compete, and after our round we collect our winnings, pay our bets, and have a good time on the patio at the club. We sometimes enjoy a cocktail, occasionally smoke cigars, and tell stories to pass our time with friends. We embrace our individuality yet work together to make our lives better. Whether it’s in business or pleasure, we live by the rules of golf, compete in a friendly way, and always play the extra hole.

Though the spirited team has built a company on the merriment of the same golf, they honor and respect the environment as most golfers should. Sustainable and eco-friendly apparel and accessories will always be at the forefront of their products in development.

All 19 holes, it’s how we live!

CLICK here to purchase your ECO-Polo golf shirt at the All 19 Holes® website!

1 All 19

 

Hammock Beach Resort Nicklaus Design Ocean Course: Florida Oceanfront Golf at its Best!

Hammock Beach Resort Nicklaus Design Ocean Course: Florida Oceanfront Golf at its Best!

The beautiful par-3 8th hole!

The beautiful par-3 8th hole!

After seven weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic Stay-at-Home restrictions and two weeks into the Recovery it was time for me to go back to ‘work’ as a golf & travel writer! With one of the best oceanfront golf courses in the world right in my backyard, the invitation came to play the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort! Given the hospitality, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, the condition of the golf course, and the weather this was one of my best golf outings ever!

I put hospitality at the top of the list because this was the first time in my life that I played a gold course and the beverage cart attendant knew me by name. Yes, knew me by name before I even introduced myself to her! Now I will always remember the Hammock Beach Resort and her name too which was Kara!

Her name is Kara! My name is Andy!

Her name is Kara! My name is Andy!

From the ladies in the pro shop to Nancy who handles accommodations to Brad Hauer the Director of Golf/General Manager to Billy from Mine Hill, New Jersey out on the range to Kara who serves drinks and snacks this is a family affair and you are the invited and welcomed guest!

Even a white egret greeted us on the 2nd tee and led us all the way to the 12th green before leaving us! Flocks of pelicans on the ocean holes and little sanderlings scampering around on the wet sand on the beach!. Spectacular wildlife at Hammock Beach Resort!

The white egret that joined us all the way from the 2nd tee to the 12th green!

The white egret that joined us all the way from the 2nd tee to the 12th green!

We are all recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic in some way. If you like comeback stories than you will like the Ocean Course and Hammock Beach Resort!

In October 2016 Hurricane Matthew struck the Ocean Course with its high winds and storm surge. Flooded with salt water the course underwent a Nicklaus Design course renovation complete with a changeover to salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum.

Pandemic Golf... upscale gizmo to lift the ball out of the hole!

Pandemic Golf… upscale gizmo to lift the ball out of the hole!

Now, nearly four years later, I have to say this course is in excellent shape and could easily hold a PGA TOUR event. Back in 2008 the resort did host a PGA TOUR event but held the golf competition on the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory Course. Slightly further inland, this links-style golf course is also a gem that I have played several years ago. Given the ocean wind, the 77.0 Rating and the 147 Slope of the old Ocean Course the pros were smart to play the Conservatory Course! I am sure that Ryan Palmer the 2008 Champion would agree!

I can attest to the impact of playing in a strong consistent ocean breeze of about 15 mph. I broke 90 but five throw-up holes including the last three made breaking 80 a remote possibility for this day. What amazed me is that the wind came from due west into our faces on the practice range and by the time we came to the 15th hole it was coming from due east directly off the ocean!

Windy but gorgeous day to play golf on the Ocean Course at the Hammock Beach Resort!

Windy but gorgeous day to play golf on the Ocean Course at the Hammock Beach Resort!

The weather was gorgeous. In the 80s that felt like the 70s with the strong breeze. Sunny all afternoon it was a day to wear sunscreen and sunglasses! The course conditions were pristine, firm and fast or slow depending on the wind direction! I love the routing where you go inland away from the Atlantic Ocean to start and then come back to it on the 183-yard par-3 8th. The straight away 468-yard par-4 9th parallels the dunes and is the No.1 handicap hole on the scorecard. I managed to par the brute with an amazing chip-putt from the front left runoff area to a tight hole location.

The 6th hole! One of four fun-to-play right-to-left cape holes on the Ocean Course (Nos. 5,6,11, & 16). How much will you dare to cut off?

The 6th hole! One of four fun-to-play right-to-left cape holes on the Ocean Course (Nos. 5,6,11, & 16). How much will you dare to cut off?

After the ocean turn the 10th hole, like the 1st hole heads west inland away from the ocean. You come back to the ocean for the last four holes, first with the 447-yard par-4 15th hole, a beauty with no green-side bunkers because well she is beautifully shaped with hillocks left and right well short of the green. I hit a solid hybrid-4 from 150 yards because the wind was a 3-club wind directly in our face!

After seeing the Hurricane Matthew marker the 16th lays out before you from an elevated ocean-side tee. With lake left this is a beautiful 387-yard cape hole narrows down to a testy green complex where I chipped one into a bunker!

My third shot at the daunting 9th green! Change in Elevation is the most underrated hazard in golf!

My third shot at the daunting 9th green! Change in Elevation is the most underrated hazard in golf!

After a short cart ride, with the same orientation as the 8th hole; the 174-yard par-3 17th faces the ocean and it is another beautiful ocean view from another elevated tee.

Then there is the home hole, the No. 2 handicap hole on the scorecard. At 465 yards it is another straight away brute that plays tough! Unlike No. 9 this one got the best of me as in a 3-putt double bogey.

I must say that while the six holes along the mile-long stretch of the Atlantic Ocean with the expansive view are dramatic and fun to play the other 12 are just as fun and challenging with no letdown. In fact the break from the rawness and strength of the ocean breeze is welcomed.

The green on the reachable par-5 6th hole. Unfortunately all I reached was the water!

The green on the reachable par-5 6th hole. Unfortunately all I reached was the water!

The 5th hole, a 433-yard par-4, is a beautiful right-to-left cape hole. As is the 520-yard par-5 6th hole with the added risk-reward feature of an island-like peninsula green. On the second nine, the 398-yard par-4 11th is a right-to-left cape hole and the green on 545-yard par-5 14th is reachable in two strokes with a gutsy long carry over still more water. It is obvious that with three right-to-left cape holes that the predominant tee shot is a strong fade. I wonder who designed this golf course?

Our friend the white egret bid us goodbye on the par-3 12th hole. Presumably to go fish for dinner than watch us play golf!

Our friend the white egret bid us goodbye on the par-3 12th hole. Presumably to go fish for dinner than watch us play golf!

Eight of the twelve inland holes feature a spectacular water feature that needs to be taken into account and navigated around, over but not into to score on the Ocean Course. With the wind coming in from the ocean and the presence of sand dunes in between it is difficult to plop one into the ocean. However with the lakes it is really easy to find the water. Maybe the name of the course should become the ‘Ocean & Lakes Course?’

Oh yes, for the records which my friends like to keep on me; I did not play from the Level Vi tips of 7.176 yards. I opted for the Level III/IV combination of 6,102 yards. I did break 90 and had the time of my life!

The beauty of the land slope, the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal... hard to focus on golf on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort!

The beauty of the land slope, the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal… hard to focus on golf on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort!

Under new ownership and managed by Troon Privé since the first of this year, one would not notice any bump in the operation. Two months into the new venture, the COVID-19 Pandemic necessitated a two-day shutdown to thoroughly sterilize the resort and golf courses. All COVID-19 precautions are in place as we have come to expect. This golf resort is humming and the lodging open to outside guests by now.

Don't forget to turn left and enjoy the beach for a while after finishing the 18th!

Don’t forget to turn left and enjoy the beach for a while after finishing the 18th!

My insider tip is to turn left and head to the beach after completing play on the 18th. Take off your golf shoes and let the excitement of playing the ‘Ocean & Lakes’ Course at Hammock Beach Resort sink in. What an experience!

At Hammock Beach Resort, play the Ocean and Conservatory Resort and Country Club Courses where everyone knows you by your name, even the Beverage Cart Attendant! Thank you to Brad, Billy, and Kara for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!

Cheers!

 

Visiting South Florida after the 2020 PGA Show!!!

2A memorable trip to South Florida after the PGA Show! Sunshine, warmth, & beauty! Great Show, now lots of follow-up to do! 2020 will be a monumental year for Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary! Thank you to all who hosted AGTD, entertained AGTD, fed AGTD, & had fun with AGTD! Off to Pebble Beach, California for my 12th straight AT&T Pro-Am. TROML Baby (an exclamation of Joy and Gratitude)!!!   (Andy Reistetter; Facebook Post with 30 Pics; 1-27-20)