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.