AGTD Experience Kissimmee, Florida: Kayaking at the Paddling Center!

When you are on an Experience Kissimmee, Florida weekend you experience what they want you to experience which is a good thing! I know TPC as the THE PLAYERS Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach but now also know it as The Paddling Center in Kissimmee!

I knew I would enjoy kayaking but I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did! It’s golf—beautiful, immersion into nature, and good exercise—without ANY stress of performance! Likely due to having a great guide in Alex—properly trained, knowledgeable of and lover of nature, and a great guy too! Case in point when I was going a bit wayward into the brush on the side of Shingle Creek, Alex yelled out “don’t lean!” I didn’t and stayed upright and in the kayak and not the water!

One added unexpected benefit of kayaking in the morning is that my upper body was loose for swinging a golf club in the afternoon ending the day with a Birdie 4 on the difficult 18th hole on the Nicklaus Course at Reunion Resort!

Kayaking at The Paddling Center on Shingle Creek is now on my “Must Do List” for Central Florida! Enjoy!

A BIG thank you to George McNeilly & McNeilly Communications for organizing this weekend with Experience Kissimmee, FloridaReunion ResortReunion Vacation Homes,
Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club, and Celebration Golf Club! It was an amazing experience!

Please consider signing up to play in the Kissimmee Family Golf Classic in June!

(Andy Reistetter; 1/27/19; Facebook Post with 40 Pics)

Play Laurel Island Links in Kingsland, GA; Interstate-95 Golf at its Best!

Here is my ongoing experience playing the Laurel Island Links Golf Club which is less than 3 miles from the GA Exit 6 on Interstate-95 just across the Florida border. This is a club that you can call home whether you play it once a year, a handful of times a year or are a member! The Bogey’s Grille is the golfing equipment of ‘Cheers.’ Be sure to say hello to new owner (purchased in October 2017) Ron Tyre for me or better yet let me know when you are coming and I will tee it up with you! Good golfing!

So here is my Facebook posting log and three photo albums: 1) Aerial Pics from my Buddy Drone; 2) People of Laurel Island and the Food of Bogey’s Grille Pics; and 3) ground level Golf Course Pics.

Facebook Log:

Another great round of golf on the Laurel Island Links & Bogey’s Bar & Grille followed by a good time at Bogey’s! Some more aerial pics by my Buddy Drone! When was the last time you played Laurel Island Links? When will be your first time playing Laurel Island Links? Enjoy! (Facebook Post with 30 Pics; Andy Reistetter; 11-3-18)

Always a good time at Laurel Island Links! A Davis Love III design gem, challenging shot values, FUN golfing experience, beautiful salt marsh vistas, great people & then there is always Bogeys for some delicious food afterwards! Some aerial pics from my Buddy Drone! Only 3 miles off Interstate-95, Exit 6 in Georgia, just north of Jacksonville & the Florida State line. Come by sometime & tee it up, you will be happy you did! #IGolfI95   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics; Andy Reistetter; 10-29-18)

Another great golfing experience in South Georgia! You were right Tony Jr. Vizzie! Laurel Island Links Golf Club is a fun, challenging, & spectacular Davis Love III design! Salt marsh views on the first nine, pine trees embraced by honeysuckle on the second nine. Never felt more genuinely welcomed at a golf course than by owner Ron Tyre with Brendan & Pat in the golf shop, and Patty & Brittany in Bogeys, both a golfers & family friendly restaurant. Beer-battered fish was very tasty! Within 3 miles of I-95 Georgia Exit 6. Great way to break up a trip north or south on I-95 or visit from Jacksonville or Savannah! Maybe I should write an I-95 golf column? What would it take to entice people to take Exit 6 and play & experience Laurel Island Links & Bogey’s Bar & Grille? Thanks Ron Tyre for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary! PS Ron Ruckdeschel another good golfing opportunity in Georgia!   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics; Andy Reistetter; 4-27-18; feeling fabulous at Laurel Island Links & Bogey’s Bar & Grille in Kingsland, GA) ·

Aerial Pics:

People & the Food of Bogey’s Grille Pics:

Golf Course Pics:

I Golf I-95; Exit 1 GA: The Lakes at Laura S. Walker State Park (Waycross, GA)

The par-4 9th and par-4 18th encircle one of three lakes on The Lakes! Very scenic golf course!

The par-4 9th and par-4 18th encircle one of three lakes on The Lakes! Very scenic golf course!

Found another golfing gem in SE Georgia, less than an hour from Interstate 95! One of the best State Park golf courses in the nation! With Okefenokee Swamp Park & the Laura S. Walker State Park adjacent to the course, this is definitely a nature & golf travel destination. My golfing experience was made even more special teeing it up with the beautiful & spirited Merri Daniel! Less than an hour from I-95, check it out next time you are crossing the Florida-Georgia border. I golf Interstate-95, do you? #IGolfI95 Thank you to Head PGA Golf Professional David Sikes, Wesley, & the fishing lady for hosting Andy’s Golf &Travel Diary! See you again sometime soon!   (Facebook Post with 30 pics; Andy Reistetter; 10-7-18)

From the Lakes at Laura S. Walker Golf Course website:

Another spectacular & enjoyable round with Merri Daniel. Hosted by Head PGA Golf Professional David Sikes!

Another spectacular & enjoyable round with Merri Daniel. Hosted by Head PGA Golf Professional David Sikes!

Welcome to The Lakes at Laura S. Walker

The Lakes Golf Course was designed by Steve Burnes and features native sand for the many bunkers and waste areas. This coastal Georgia course has three large lakes and is very close to the Okefenokee Swamp. Popular for great course conditions and mild weather. Voted the 2011 “Hook A Kid On Golf” Best New Site of the Year in the Nation. Voted 2009 Best Municipal Golf Course in Georgia by Golf Digest.

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The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort: A Magnificent Restoration!!!

Not only did I survive but I thrived playing the Ocean Course in the wind!

Not only did I survive but I thrived playing the Ocean Course in the wind!

Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Andy Reistetter now says: “The two most important days in a golf travel writer’s life is the day a golf course re-opens after a restoration project and the day I get to play it.”

For the fabulous Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort those days were November 2nd, 2017 and November 15th, 2017.

This is the 174-yard par-3 17th, part of the famed closing stretch named “The Bear!"

This is the 174-yard par-3 17th, part of the famed closing stretch named “The Bear!” Claw,”

On the afternoon of Friday, October 7th, 2016 the eye of Hurricane Matthew passed by Palm Coast churning at 120 mph, which is designated as a Category 3 hurricane.

Amazingly this tragic event with its devastation to the golf course was not only reversed but improved upon over a 13-month period.

As detailed in the press release below, “the Hammock Beach Resort owners and resort managers—Salamander Hotels & Resorts—  took a long-term view regarding conditioning (of the golf course) and opted to conduct a complete course restoration in conjunction with Nicklaus Design.”

'Joey' Burch is the kind of guy you want to meet (and interview if you are a writer) when you visit the Hammock Beach Resort... Joey said something simple, profound, and heartfelt to me- "It's good to see golfers on the golf course again!" I could not agree more!

‘Joey’ Burch is the kind of guy you want to meet (and interview if you are a writer) when you visit the Hammock Beach Resort… Joey said something simple, profound, and heartfelt to me- “It’s good to see golfers on the golf course again!” I could not agree more!

“Staying true to Nicklaus’ masterful design, the Ocean Course restoration has included the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, as well as the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green complex.”

Having played the golf course before and after the restoration it is my opinion that they took a great golf course and made it even greater with subtle design changes and the best grass that money can buy and grow next to an ocean!

Scoring 46-37 as I transitioned from a somewhat sheltered (and shattered)  first nine to a wide open second nine in a 25-30 mile Nor’easter wind I would have to say “let her blow!”

Perfect day for clam chowder which kicked in to enable me to start the second nine with two birdies!

Perfect day for clam chowder which kicked in to enable me to start the second nine with two birdies!

The greens were ultra-pure and ultra-fast both uphill and downhill and into the wind and downwind too!

I say bring back the PGA TOUR or invite the LPGA and let those men and women give it a go too! Actually the PGA TOUR Champions played on the second more inland resort course designed by Tom Watson—the Conservatory Course. Watson did not win but Bernard Langer did in 2008 while Keith Fergus won the inaugural event the year before.

The Salmon Burger with House Made Chips!

The Salmon Burger with House Made Chips!

Besides playing the magnificent Ocean Course I was treated to a delicious lunch in the signature restaurant of the Hammock Beach Resort—The Atlantic Grille. I went with a bowl of the New England Clam Chowder and the Salmon Burger on a Brioche Bun. The tasty, the sweet, and the meat sustained me throughout the afternoon round of sunshine and challenging winds!

It was a great day playing the renovated and newly improved Ocean Course! Though I missed Opening Day the press release and great pictures below, including Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner and Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl, make me feel like I was there!

Bravo Salamander, as this type of commitment and dedication is unparalleled!

Ocean Golf at its finest, at least on the second nine for Andy Reistetter!

Ocean Golf at its finest, at least on the second nine for Andy Reistetter!

The Florida Golf Collection of Sheila Johnson, the founder of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, goes west from Palm Coast through Orlando via the elegant Reunion Resort which is embellished with Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson Signature Course designs and then a bit south to the famed Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which has four golf courses and hosts the a PGA TOUR event on its Copperhead Course.

Playing any one of the nine Salamander golf courses is a treat but why not start at the Ocean and Conservatory Courses in Palm Harbor and play them all?

 

Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort Re-opens after 13-month Restoration Project

Jack Nicklaus Signature Design now features new salt-tolerant greens, fairways and rough

11 / 02 / 2017

PALM COAST, FL – The famed Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, today re-opened after a 13-month restoration project.

The ceremonial first foursome at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach comprised (from left to right): Paul Propis, the resort’s golf committee chairman; Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Brad Hauer, Hammock Beach Resort’s director of golf; and Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

The ceremonial first foursome at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach comprised (from left to right): Paul Propis, the resort’s golf committee chairman; Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Brad Hauer, Hammock Beach Resort’s director of golf; and Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl
Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

A ceremonial event, attended by golf, tourism and elected officials, featured a first tee foursome consisting of Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl; Brad Hauer, the resort’s director of golf; and Paul Propis, vice president of the resort’s board of governors and golf committee chairman.

The Palm Coast, FL, resort is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel company founded by Sheila Johnson, and is part of the Salamander Golf Collection.

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course has been closed since October 2016 after high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Matthew caused damage across the majority of its holes. The resort’s owners and Salamander took a long-term view regarding conditioning and opted to conduct a complete course restoration in conjunction with Nicklaus Design.

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, re-opens after a 13- month restoration project. Photo Credit: Ryder Haske

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, re-opens after a 13- month restoration project. Photo Credit: Ryder Haske

Staying true to Nicklaus’ masterful design, the Ocean Course restoration has included the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, as well as the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green complex.

The new salt-tolerant grass was tested by high winds and storm surge caused by Hurricane Irma in September, but the turf stood up well and the restoration project completion was only pushed back a few weeks.

“Today, the Ocean Course reclaims its position as one of the finest golf courses in the country,” said Salamander Founder & CEO Sheila Johnson, who also serves as an executive committee member of the United States Golf Association. “The location is unique, the views are exquisite and the conditioning now matches the spectacular locale. We thank Lubert-Adler, the resort’s owners, for its commitment to the game of golf, and are honored that the Ocean Course rejoins the rotation within our Salamander Golf Collection.”

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach re-opened on November 2 after a 13- month restoration project. Photographed, from left to right, are: Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Terry Bechtold, managing director of Hammock Beach Resort; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Amy Wilde, president of ACP Communities; Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort; and Neill Faucett, managing principal of Lubert-Adler. Credit: Gregory Heck

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach re-opened on November 2 after a 13- month restoration project. Photographed, from left to right, are: Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Terry Bechtold, managing director of Hammock Beach Resort; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Amy Wilde, president of ACP Communities; Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort; and Neill Faucett, managing principal of Lubert-Adler.
Credit: Gregory Heck

In addition to the Ocean Course, Salamander is also re-opening its North Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa Bay on November 3 – just 24 hours later. The course, designed by Larry Packard, had been closed for four months for a renovation of its greens.

As one of only a handful of courses in the Southeast to feature Platinum Paspalum, the Ocean Course’s new surface features thick, short grass blades. Tolerant of all seasons, the grass is able to withstand seasonal temperature changes yet maintain a beautiful verdant year-round look. The addition of new and bright white Angle-G sand has also significantly brightened the already visually appealing course.

The course’s dune line, which is over a mile long, continues to be carefully restored ­to state conservational specifications. Newer and stronger dunes are forming, which offer greater environmental protection while also offering golfers some of the most stunning ocean views on the East Coast.

“By replacing Bermuda grass with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, we now offer golfers one of the purest surfaces in the game,” said Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort. “And, in addition to improved playing conditions for golfers of all levels, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are simply incredible.”

Hammock Beach Director of Golf Brad Hauer hits a ceremonial first tee shot at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. The course re- opened on November 2, 2017 after a 13- month restoration. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

Hammock Beach Director of Golf Brad Hauer hits a ceremonial first tee shot at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. The course re- opened on November 2, 2017 after a 13- month restoration. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

The Ocean Course originally opened in April 2000. And, while the integrity of the original design has been retained through the recent restoration, new forward tees have been added to each hole, making six on each. This allows the par 72 course to play as short as 4,100 yards, but retain a challenging overall length of 7,201 yards from its back tees.

Throughout the Ocean Course’s restoration project, Hammock Beach’s other championship layout, the highly-rated Conservatory Course (Tom Watson), has continued to accommodate guest and member play.

The restoration of the Ocean Course follows a number of previous enhancements at Hammock Beach Resort. The resort has recently renovated its grand lobby, refurbished all 15,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event spaces, and re-opened its signature restaurant, The Atlantic Grille.

In mid-November, it will launch its boutique accommodation option: The Lodge at Hammock Beach, which offers an intimate accommodation option overlooking the Ocean Course. It features 20 guest rooms, direct beach access and provides guests with the unique “Lodge Experience” – a VIP service including amenities and daily breakfast. With spectacular ocean views, the Atlantic Grille, led by new Executive Chef Kevin Luque, is serving “Shore to Table” cuisine, highlighting local, freshly caught seafood.

Just south of historic St. Augustine, Hammock Beach Resort presents true luxury nestled among nature and offers an upscale escape surrounded by scenes of Old Florida, with more than 300 luxurious and spacious accommodations. There are numerous golf and social membership options available at the coastal oasis, which operates as both a private club and resort. It offers storybook experiences with two highly renowned and ranked golf courses designed by legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, a 10,000-square-foot ocean-inspired spa and fitness center, multiple restaurants and bars, a multi-level pool complex with adult and children’s areas, oceanfront meeting space, a marina and tennis center, and miles of coquina-laden coastline.

For more information, call Hammock Beach Resort at 866-841-0287 or visit www.hammockbeach.com. Hammock Beach Resort is located at 200 Ocean Crest Drive, Palm Coast, FL 32137.

 

About Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Salamander Hotels & Resorts is a privately owned and operated company based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, the company has a luxury portfolio featuring two distinct collections. The Signature Collection includes the stunning Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; The Henderson, a 170-room grand beach resort in Destin, FL; NOPSI New Orleans, a new 217-room luxury historic hotel re-imagined which opened in July 2017; and Hotel Bennett, a 179-room luxury hotel in Charleston, SC, opening in summer 2018. The Golf Collection includes the famed Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which hosts an annual PGA TOUR on its Copperhead Course; the elegant Reunion Resort in Orlando, which includes Signature Course designs from Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson; and the recently renovated oceanfront Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL, home to layouts by Nicklaus and Watson. All Salamander properties are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. For additional information, visit www.SalamanderHotels.com.

 

 

Social Media Preview: The Ocean Course at the Hammock Beach Resort!

WOW, what a resort, and what a golf course! Knocked down by Hurricane Matthew last year, but with

The gorgeous and all-inspiring 174-yard par-3 17th hole on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort!

The gorgeous and all-inspiring 174-yard par-3 17th hole on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort!

Jack Nicklaus Design’s help and 13 months of repair and renovation, the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort has come back to life better than ever! Think about that, the damage to the six ocean-hugging golf holes, actually the entire golf course was impacted, yet the long-term vision, dedication, and financial commitment by Sheila Johnson and Salamander Hotels & Resorts has preserved one of America’s ocean front golfing experiences! True to Nicklaus’ masterful design, re-grassing with salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, reconstruction of tees, bunkers and green complexes, a legendary golfing experience is back alive, thriving, and open to golfers worldwide!

Nothing better than playing golf oceanside!

Nothing better than playing golf oceanside!

This is a true Ocean Course with a mile long encounter with the Deep Blue. Speaking of the Deep Blue, lunch in the Atlantic Grille was outstanding! More to be written on this amazing golfing experience! Welcome back Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort!, we missed you and are happy to be experiencing your treasures again!Many thanks for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary! PS: in the market for some new equipment so played with a rental set of Taylormade M2 irons, hybrids & driver! WoWie there is hope for my game! SOTO TP Collection putter was pretty sweet too!   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 11-16-17)

Here are some pics and a press release too!

 

Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort Re-opens after 13-month Restoration Project
Jack Nicklaus Signature Design now features new salt-tolerant greens, fairways and rough

11 / 02 / 2017

PALM COAST, FL –  The famed Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, today re-opened after a 13-month restoration project.

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort re-opened on November 2 after a 13-month restoration project. Pictured are holes 17 and 18. Phot Credit: Ryder Haske

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort re-opened on November 2 after a 13-month restoration project. Pictured are holes 17 and 18. Photo Credit: Ryder Haske

A ceremonial event, attended by golf, tourism and elected officials, featured a first tee foursome consisting of Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl; Brad Hauer, the resort’s director of golf; and Paul Propis, vice president of the resort’s board of governors and golf committee chairman.

The Palm Coast, FL, resort is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel company founded by Sheila Johnson, and is part of the Salamander Golf Collection.

First Foursome of Lee Elder, four-time winner on the PGA TOUR and the first African American to play in The Masters, talks with Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

First Foursome of
Lee Elder, four-time winner on the PGA TOUR and the first African American to play in The Masters, talks with Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck
Download (11.9 MB)

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course has been closed since October 2016 after high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Matthew caused damage across the majority of its holes. The resort’s owners and Salamander took a long-term view regarding conditioning and opted to conduct a complete course restoration in conjunction with Nicklaus Design.

Staying true to Nicklaus’ masterful design, the Ocean Course restoration has included the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, as well as the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green complex.

The new salt-tolerant grass was tested by high winds and storm surge caused by Hurricane Irma in September, but the turf stood up well and the restoration project completion was only pushed back a few weeks.

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach re-opened on November 2 after a 13-month restoration project. Photographed, from left to right, are: Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Terry Bechtold, managing director of Hammock Beach Resort; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Amy Wilde, president of ACP Communities; Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort; and Neill Faucett, managing principal of Lubert-Adler. Credit: Gregory Heck

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach re-opened on November 2 after a 13-month restoration project. Photographed, from left to right, are: Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Terry Bechtold, managing director of Hammock Beach Resort; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Amy Wilde, president of ACP Communities; Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort; and Neill Faucett, managing principal of Lubert-Adler. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

“Today, the Ocean Course reclaims its position as one of the finest golf courses in the country,” said Salamander Founder & CEO Sheila Johnson, who also serves as an executive committee member of the United States Golf Association. “The location is unique, the views are exquisite and the conditioning now matches the spectacular locale. We thank Lubert-Adler, the resort’s owners, for its commitment to the game of golf, and are honored that the Ocean Course rejoins the rotation within our Salamander Golf Collection.”

In addition to the Ocean Course, Salamander is also re-opening its North Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa Bay on November 3 – just 24 hours later. The course, designed by Larry Packard, had been closed for four months for a renovation of its greens.

As one of only a handful of courses in the Southeast to feature Platinum Paspalum, the Ocean Course’s new surface features thick, short grass blades. Tolerant of all seasons, the grass is able to withstand seasonal temperature changes yet maintain a beautiful verdant year-round look. The addition of new and bright white Angle-G sand has also significantly brightened the already visually appealing course.

The course’s dune line, which is over a mile long, continues to be carefully restored ¬to state conservational specifications. Newer and stronger dunes are forming, which offer greater environmental protection while also offering golfers some of the most stunning ocean views on the East Coast.

Hammock Beach Director of Golf Brad Hauer hits a ceremonial first tee shot at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. The course re-opened on November 2, 2017 after a 13-month restoration. Photo Credit: Gregory

Hammock Beach Director of Golf Brad Hauer hits a ceremonial first tee shot at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. The course re-opened on November 2, 2017 after a 13-month restoration. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

“By replacing Bermuda grass with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, we now offer golfers one of the purest surfaces in the game,” said Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort. “And, in addition to improved playing conditions for golfers of all levels, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are simply incredible.”

The Ocean Course originally opened in April 2000. And, while the integrity of the original design has been retained through the recent restoration, new forward tees have been added to each hole, making six on each. This allows the par 72 course to play as short as 4,100 yards, but retain a challenging overall length of 7,201 yards from its back tees.

Throughout the Ocean Course’s restoration project, Hammock Beach’s other championship layout, the highly-rated Conservatory Course (Tom Watson), has continued to accommodate guest and member play.

The restoration of the Ocean Course follows a number of previous enhancements at Hammock Beach Resort. The resort has recently renovated its grand lobby, refurbished all 15,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event spaces, and re-opened its signature restaurant , The Atlantic Grille.

In mid-November, it will launch its boutique accommodation option: The Lodge at Hammock Beach, which offers an intimate accommodation option overlooking the Ocean Course. It features 20 guest rooms, direct beach access and provides guests with the unique “Lodge Experience” – a VIP service including amenities and daily breakfast. With spectacular ocean views, the Atlantic Grille, led by new Executive Chef Kevin Luque, is serving “Shore to Table” cuisine, highlighting local, freshly caught seafood.

Just south of historic St. Augustine, Hammock Beach Resort presents true luxury nestled among nature and offers an upscale escape surrounded by scenes of Old Florida, with more than 300 luxurious and spacious accommodations. There are numerous golf and social membership options available at the coastal oasis, which operates as both a private club and resort. It offers storybook experiences with two highly renowned and ranked golf courses designed by legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, a 10,000-square-foot ocean-inspired spa and fitness center, multiple restaurants and bars, a multi-level pool complex with adult and children’s areas, oceanfront meeting space, a marina and tennis center, and miles of coquina-laden coastline.

For more information, call Hammock Beach Resort at 866-841-0287 or visit www.hammockbeach.com. Hammock Beach Resort is located at 200 Ocean Crest Drive, Palm Coast, FL 32137.

 

About Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Salamander Hotels & Resorts is a privately owned and operated company based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, the company has a luxury portfolio featuring two distinct collections. The Signature Collection includes the stunning Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; The Henderson, a 170-room grand beach resort in Destin, FL; NOPSI New Orleans, a new 217-room luxury historic hotel re-imagined which opened in July 2017; and Hotel Bennett, a 179-room luxury hotel in Charleston, SC, opening in summer 2018. The Golf Collection includes the famed Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which hosts an annual PGA TOUR on its Copperhead Course; the elegant Reunion Resort in Orlando, which includes Signature Course designs from Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson; and the recently renovated oceanfront Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL, home to layouts by Nicklaus and Watson. All Salamander properties are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. For additional information, visit www.SalamanderHotels.com.

Hidden Hills Country Club: One of Palmer’s Best Designs!

Granted God gave Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay this beautiful hilly country but they took advantage of the land and designed a memorable and fun t9o play golf course! I played it on a Sunday morning after Chet’s Creek Church and posted on Facebook about the wonderful experience—see below—and then below that for a gallery of pictures! How true the greens rolled after being aerated earlier in the week is a testament to Russ Libby’s greens keeper staff and to this solid design. Recently opened for public play, there is no reason Hidden Hills CC has to be hidden from you and your play schedule! a great place to put a tee in the ground and enjoy a wonderful round, some great wildlife and the hospitality of a country club too! Enjoy!

‘Pray & Play’ Sunday with my buddy Stokes Hill! First, an inspirational service at Chet’s Creek Church with Lead Pastor Spike Hogan. CHOSEN series opener; CHOSEN to Be God’s People. God always has a PLAN, a PURPOSE, & a PERSON.. Is that PERSON you? We are all God’s CHOSEN people but not all say YES! Then off to one of my favorite courses in all of the Southeast! Not you typical Florida golf course! Beautiful hills, real nice rolling hills with elevated tees, a beautiful Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design. Even with recently aerated greens, the putts rolled true & it’s one of those golf courses with deep character so you remember the routing and each hole. Spectacular golf! Recently opened to public play, even with a full Sunday morning tee sheet we played in well under four hours. Russ Libby thanks for hosting ‘Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!’ ‘Pray & Play,’ the way life ought to be! TROML Baby!   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 6/4/17)

Golf in Jacksonville? It’s All Blue Sky!

4Golf in Jacksonville? It’s ALL Blue Sky! Nice round at the newly renovated Arnold Palmer classicly designed Blue Sky Golf Club – Jacksonville’s Newest Golf Course. Clubhouse is no golf course clubhouse. Fun upscale restaurant. Staff is awesome, thanks Jakeem & so accommodating, no joke Heather! Thanks David for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!   (Facebook Post, Andy Reistetter, 3-29-17 with 30 Pics)

The First Tee of North Florida is Home at Brentwood GC in Jacksonville!

1I had a great time at The First Tee of North Florida yesterday… great facility, great program and support team and most importantly great kids. Played 9 holes with Coach Tony, Blair, Charles & Chase. This is a good golf course that is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC with a great practice facility and inexpensive darn right cheap greens fees, walk for $10! Hope to see you Wednesday night at The Clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass for the Taste of Golf benefiting The First Tee of North Florida! (-:   (Facebook Post with 3 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 9/22/13)

 

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Coastal Georgia’s Jekyll Island, A Million Reasons to Visit!

Enjoying dessert in the Grand Dining Room!

Merri & Andy enjoying dessert in the Grand Dining Room!

Golf Writer Andy Reistetter is joined by Merri Daniel, golf’s newest voice for women, as they share another intimate “stay & play” golfing experience. This exclusive “Play-Stay & Write” article encompasses a weekend visit to Jekyll Island, the State of Georgia’s “Landmark Experience.”

Much has been written about its aesthetic, cultural and historical significance. These were the homes for Millionaires starting back in 1886. But what sense of being is found today on the island? Why does it attract so many visitors? Join Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Daniel and Reistetter, yes Merri Daniel and Andy Reistetter, as they share their perspective of why Jekyll Island is today’s destination of choice.

The Jekyll Island Golf Complex boasts 72 holes of golf for competition and fun for every golfer!

The Jekyll Island Golf Complex boasts 72 holes of golf for competition and fun for every golfer!

Walter Hagen once said “I never wanted to be a millionaire. I just wanted to live like one.” The millionaires of the late 19th and early 20th centuries lived on Jekyll Island to escape winter and rejuvenate themselves. Today there is no need to be a millionaire but there are a million reasons to come to visit Jekyll Island.

“It’s different, it’s just different,” was what the man said to us when I asked him to describe Jekyll Island. After only a few hours on the island we knew that what he said is true. Jekyll Island is different. After a fabulous dinner in the Grand Dining Room of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel Merri and I set out to stroll down the many sidewalks of the Historic District. We came upon the Sans Souci rumored to be the first condominium project in the world- a segue between the rooms of the hotel and the opulence of the “cottages” of the millionaires.
The man was sitting on the front porch rocking away with his 16-year old son. Rocking as in a rocking chair on the covered veranda, not as in musical gyrations though the beat of their father-son conversation was noteworthy. It was the peaceful tone of that conversation which attracted us to mosey over their way. As simple as being happy and fulfilled, we joined in with the rhapsodists. What we conversed about, whether it was the weather, the activities of the day or the splendor of experiencing Jekyll Island is forgotten. But the charm of Jekyll Island is not. Where else can you meet a stranger, share a moment and depart friends celebrating such a tranquil experience?
In the legendary office of the legend Johnny Paulk himself! What an experience to meet this man!

In the legendary office of the legend Johnny Paulk himself! What an experience to meet this man!

Well of course that can also happen on a golf course. Jack Lemmon, who told us the story of Bagger Vance, said “If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try playing the wrong golf ball.” Opportunities to play into other fairways are minimal due to the spatial world class design of the golf courses. Jekyll Island is “the World’s first golf course designed with suitable tee locations for the entire family to enjoy the game of golf together.” Perhaps a game of alternate shot is the course of design for fun and making more friends in the family?

Golf has been on Jekyll Island since 1898 and today boasts 63 holes and is the largest public golf resort in the state. That’s three 18-hole courses and one 9-hole keepsake from the 1926 Walter Travis creation of “American Ocean Links” called the Great Dunes course. Oleander is a 1917 Donald Ross masterpiece redesigned in 1964 by Dick Wilson. Indian Mound was designed by Joe Lee in 1975. Pine Lakes is a 1968 Dick Wilson/Joe Lee design renovated in 2002 by Clyde Johnston. So if one is into name dropping, the golf architects of Jekyll Island are right up there in the world of golf as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Morgan are in the world of finance.

Like the quiet conversations on the front porch you will find a great deal of humbleness and dedication behind the scenes on Jekyll Island. If you look into the concept of family tees on a golf course you will learn it was done under the direction of Johnny Paulk.
The World's first golf course designed with suitable tee locations for the entire family to enjoy the game of golf together. Thank you Johnny Paulk!

The World’s first golf course designed with suitable tee locations for the entire family to enjoy the game of golf together. Thank you Johnny Paulk!

A living legend of Georgia golf, Paulk started as an Assistant Professional at East Lake Golf Club, home club of the legend in golf, Bobby Jones. On the wall outside his office hangs the letter Bobby Jones wrote on his behalf recognizing Johnny as a personable, competent and industrious person and recommending him for a job. Of course Jones started the Masters Tournament a long time ago.

Paulk announces the golfers as they approach the 18th green and is only the third person to do so. When you bring your family to golf on Jekyll Island, seek out Johnny Paulk for a story or two and learn something about the true essence of the game.

We said there were a million reasons to come to Jekyll Island. Here are Merri’s Marvelous Moments of Jekyll Island. Ten of those million reasons to visit Jekyll Island:
10.   Staying at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. “The room was capacious, the bed extra comfortable and the bathroom even had a window that opened to the flowery courtyard below.”
9. Golfing, it was fantastic. “Sorry I know it was mentioned before but from a women’s perspective these golf courses are a lot of fun to play. Plus I love seeing up close the deer with their fawns.”
Merri enjoying the company of three deer off the 9th tee on the Pine Lakes Course!

Merri enjoying the company of three deer off the 9th tee on the Pine Lakes Course!

8.   Riding bicycles around the island. “At the Club Hotel you can literally valet your car, walk a few steps and rent a bicycle to tour the island and get some exercise. I liked when we rode out to Driftwood Beach, what an interesting and beautiful place with fantastic views.”

7. Visiting the Commissary on Pier Road which was the General Store back in the 1920s. “Juliana, the owner has a private label of Georgia based food products. Georgia
Peaches and Vidalia Onions and Pecans are used to make delicious barbecue sauces, salad dressing, preserves, hot sauces, relishes, salsas and much more, which is quite extraordinary”
6. Working on Jekyll Island. “Oops, we are not supposed to use that word but if you have to do that the new Jekyll Island Convention Center is the place to do it. It is oceanfront and there is an automatic positivity that comes to any event. A Beach Village retail center and three new hotels are planned.”
5.   Visiting Faith Chapel. “Wow, the chapel is home to a treasured rarity- a signed stained glass windows by the famed artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. I am so excited that my daughter recently became engaged to be married to a wonderful guy. This would be a wonderful place for an intimate wedding celebration.”
The charming view from the bathroom window in our charming room in the

The charming view from the bathroom window in our charming room in the

4.   Walking down to the Café Solterra at the Club Hotel to get some coffee. “Andy knows I need my coffee early in the morning. I love to pop down to the café to get some Starbucks coffee and bring Andy back a treat from the bakery.”

3.   Taking the Historical District Tour starting at the Island History Center. “Talk about going back in time, the only thing missing are the people. What gorgeous homes. It was as though we were joining the Rockefellers for the 1917 season. The antique Red Bug car they had was cool but I love driving the modern electric Red Bug around the island.”
2. Visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. “Turtles are so cute in their hard shells. The ones in rehabilitation seem to have such personality. Not only are there sea turtles but diamondback terrapins too from the brackish water between the island and the main land. Since one of two turtles sited on the causeway are killed by motorists please drive slower and more carefully coming onto the island.”
1.   Having dinner in the Grand Dining Room. “Especially on a Saturday night, date night! The food was extraordinary, the people nicely accommodating and the desserts richly chocolate the way I like them. My best tip is to have dinner early and take a leisurely romantic walk afterwards. Don’t miss Sunday brunch as it is to die for. But eat late as you can before it ends at 2 p.m.”
Faith Chapel on Jekyll Island...

Faith Chapel on Jekyll Island…

In reality maybe the reasons folks come to Jekyll Island today are very similar to the reasons the millionaires started coming 125 years ago. Sure we are curious about how they lived and what the insides of their homes looked like. Exploring the island and connecting with its natural beauty is a big part of the experience. Probably a bigger part, like that father and son rocking on the porch is connecting with ourselves and the people important to us in our lives whether friends or family. You don’t have to be a millionaire. On Jekyll Island today it does not take long to decompress, relax and enjoy the ambiance of a special place. “It’s different, it’s just different.”

The tag line in the Bagger Vance movie was “Some Things Can’t Be Learned. They Must Be Remembered.” Remembering things and creating new memories is easy to do when you spend a few nights on Jekyll Island. At least a million good thoughts and feelings will come your way. Enjoy!
p.s. Jekyll Island is “Celebrating 125 Years of History with a Year to Remember at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.” Dinner for two for $125 is available through the end of the year in the Grand Dining Room. In December any night in a Clubhouse or Traditional Room is $125 in the Club Hotel.
Merri Daniel is a Women’s Golf Advocate in addition to being a Spokes Model for Vivacity Sportswear .
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS Championship while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.
Residing within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and the home of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, this golfing couple is focused on a number of entrepreneurial golf pursuits within the realm of “Outside the Ropes Entertainment.”

Friend  Andy Reistetter on Facebook to enjoy daily updates or contact Reistetter by e-mail at AndyReistetter@gmail.com

Play St. Johns Golf & Country Club- On the Road to the PGA TOUR

Golf writer Andy Reistetter has been tracking the road to the 2010 PGA TOUR.

He was on site at the Nationwide Tour Championship at the Daniel Island Club in Charleston, South Carolina where 25 golden golfers earned their 2010 PGA TOUR cards.

Two weeks ago he was at The Children’s Miracle Network Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort where the Top 125 on the money list were finalized and qualified for the 2010 PGA TOUR.

This week he heads to Bear Lakes CC in West Palm Beach to report on the Finals of Q-School and the Top 25 golfers and ties who will fill out the fields for the 2010 PGA TOUR.

Along the way he enjoys playing the golf courses the pros play in a series he is developing called “The Monday After.” How should an amateur play a golf course set up for professional golfers- from the tips, same hole locations, “The Monday After” the competition concludes.

In this installment he played the St. Johns Golf & Country Club as a guest of General Manager Dan Zimmer.

DSC03677For some of the finalists in this week’s conclusion of Q-School the hopeful road to the PGA TOUR went directly through the St. Johns Golf & Country Club in late October.

Eight golfers are competing next week for a 2010 TOUR card because they advanced through the first stage held right here in our own backyard at the Clyde Johnson designed 7,236 yard gem off County Road 210 in northern St. Augustine.

Keep an eye on Alan Morin, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, David Lutterus, Jesse Hutchins, Joe Affrunti, Major Manning and Rafael Gomez and see if the guys who played at St. Johns Golf & Country Club make it to the PGA TOUR.

Then go out and play St. Johns’ to test your game versus some of the world’s best professional golfers.

That’s exactly what I did recently and quite frankly the results were as my friends say “keep your day job.”

But I did discover what a great golf course St. Johns G&CC is… especially for ladies.

I played with a lady friend and she really loved the playability and picturesque natural setting of a golf course that gently meanders through open forested land and around lakes and ponds.

DSC00733The routing of the course is world class in that the front nine goes out in a clockwise direction to the south and returns to the clubhouse while the back nine is laid out in a counterclockwise direction.

The bottom line is that you are “lost in nature” never knowing exactly what direction you are heading in. The challenge of gauging the wind direction and its effect through the trees may very well be St. Johns’ hidden hazard.

As host for Q-School for five of the last six years this Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary had my number and the dismal 92 result far exceeded my 7-handicap expectations number wise.

Maybe I was being distracted by my lady friend or maybe the reason for posting such a high score was that I played the tips- the gold tees which are a challenging 74.7 rating and slope of 132.

Before teeing off I had the pleasure of meeting two brothers from Germany enrolled in the onsite world renowned Tom Burnett Golf Academy- 15-year old Willie and 20 year old Fritz Gabor.

With swings that appeared to be like that of new TOUR sensation Rickie Fowler these two golfers inspired by the likes of Martin Kaymer may be the ones who give Tiger Woods the old heave hoe in a few years.

Local PGA TOUR rookie Jeff Klauk who finished No. 71 on the money list this year winning over $1.2 million, Matt Kuchar and Aree Song are graduates of the Burnett Golf Academy.

DSC00749Are you getting the picture here? Tremendous practice facilities, a world class designed golf course always in tip-top shape and a very friendly and accommodating staff that is “always exceeding your expectations” makes you feel like a member even if you play St. Johns only for a day.

For the record it is open for public play.

I started off well with a regulation par on the first hole which is a reasonably short par-4 of 400 yards from the tips.

On the other side of the practice facility is No. 10 which is a similar length par-4 of 407 yards.

Just like TPC Sawgrass home of THE PLAYERS Championship holes Nos. 1 and 10 are similar challenges from a design perspective. Why do golf course architects do that?

They do it so there is no advantage during competitions whether a golfer goes off No.1 or No. 10. Another subtle world class design element of St Johns Golf and Country Club.

I quickly put myself in trouble with an errant drive on the scenic par-5 second hole. Though managing a bogey the beauty of the pond down the right side of No. 2 that goes on to frame the green of the par-3 third hole mesmerized me into a quick feeling of tranquility on the links.

Not the competitive perspective one needs to score on a difficult but fair golf course.

Though the promoted signature hole is likely to be the finishing 18th with an almost island like teeing area and the logoed bridge crossing this golfer thinks No. 4 is competitive in that regard.

Plus it was my only birdie of the day. Go figure that!

No. 4- the shortest par-4 on the golf course at 382 yards brings water into play off the tee on the right hand side. The water encapsulates the right half of the green which has a wooden bulkhead.

With a front right hole location my pitching wedge landed on the backboard behind the flagstick and zippered down past the hole leaving me the makeable 18-footer for birdie.

How exciting!

I am no Ben Crenshaw on the greens and the greens of St. Johns are no Augusta National but let me tell you taking 39 putts, 21 on the back nine is not my style.

Surely I was being distracted by something or someone?

To keep me in the game my lady golfer friend and I decided to engage into a match for the final five holes.

Brilliant or not so brilliant?

I am fortunate and happy to report the match ended in a draw with me winning the last with a 3-putt bogey. The logoed bridge depicted on the scorecard was like a bridge over troubled waters for me.

Though not winning the match it was my pleasure to buy lunch. The Grille Room is in a remarkable clubhouse and overlooks the 9th and 18th green complex.

As I sat there enjoying a tasty lunch and how lucky I was to win the final hole to draw the match to even I recalled coming out last year and watching some Q-School action around the Nos. 9 & 18 greens.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rod Curl the first full-blooded Native American to win a PGA TOUR event when he beat no one other than Jack Nicklaus down the stretch in the 1974 Colonial National Invitation.

His son Jeff advanced through the first round at St. Johns though he did not earn a 2009 TOUR card.

I remembered entering the clubhouse under the large clock as it struck high noon.

Isn’t it time for you to play St. Johns Golf & Country Club and find out where your game stands?

Or better yet take a lady friend and your best golfing buddy or two and enjoy the tranquility of an afternoon out on the links.

Situated equidistant from the hearts of Jacksonville and St. Augustine less than a mile off Interstate 95 its location is convenient whether or not you are on the road to the PGA TOUR.

Good golfing!

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and The Golf Channel.

He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. See more of Andy’s golf travel on his website Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary. Feel free to e-mail him to AndyReistetter@gmail.com