Destination: St. Augustine, Florida
Ponce de Leon may have put St. Augustine, Florida on the map but Sam, Gene, Arnie and Jack have made it a growing vacation destination for golfers from around the world. The World Golf Village, just off I-95 at exit 95-A, has garnered the attention of the golf community with two spectacular 18-hole courses proudly named after four of the most famous linksmen in modern history. Both courses are cut through stands of loblolly pines and ancient oak trees, across wetlands, and open meadows creating challenges for golfers of all abilities.
The Slammer and Squire opened in 1998 in the heart of the ėvillageî and is the site of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. The 6,900-yard course was designed by golf architect Bobby Weed in consultation with Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. Its lush fairways contrasted with the emerald sands of seemingly endless bunkers run alongside wetlands filled with typical Florida wildlife. Playing the Slammer and Squire is a golfing experience which will not soon be forgotten.
The newer course, the King and the Bear, opened in 2000 and was designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. It is the only course ever co-designed by the two fierce competitors and rivals the Slammer and Squire in both challenge and beauty. Stretching almost 7,300 yards, the King and Bear feature an abundance of rare coquina rock lining its many lakes and several bunkers. Although located a few miles from the main Village, the course has quickly gained popularity with its pristine setting and quality layout. Both courses are well worth a trip to northern Florida for the player who enjoys a challenging golf experience. Located in the area are several other excellent public courses to round out a full weekís visit.
The World Golf Village is much more than two golf courses. At the center of the Village is the World Golf Hall of Fame. Many of the golfing relics and memorabilia were moved from the old facility at Pinehurst but the 75,000 square-foot complex far surpasses its predecessor. Anchored by a 190-foot tower looking out over the Village and surrounding area, the Hall of Fame offers a complete golf history. You can stand on St. Andrews' Swilcan Bridge, putt on undulating greens, feel the pressure of being in the eye of the television cameras, and test your knowledge about the rules of golf. And, you can relive the exciting golfing accomplishments of the hundreds of inductees into the Hall of Fame. The memorabilia collection is unique and includes not only golfing artifacts but things such as Sam Snead's lunchbox.
In addition to the Hall of Fame, the Village houses the PGA Tour Stop, a 30,000 square-foot golf shop that offers almost any type of golf equipment and clothing, and it is open in the evenings! Other shops located around the lake in the Village's center include flower shops, an art studio, and novelty store. Nearby is an outlet mall for those who need more shopping. Several eateries are in the Village offering a range from the very casual grill to the elegant dining of the restaurant in the Renaissance Resort. One of the most popular restaurants is Murray Brothers, owned by Caddyshack's Bill Murray and his family.
The World Golf Village is a family vacation destination and two of the main attractions for the family are the IMAX Theater, a 300-seat facility with a six story screen, which typically features animated films, and a huge swimming pool with sand bottom. An outdoor putting green is available as is a variety of children play areas. Lodging at the Village ranges from the luxurious Renaissance Resort Hotel to Sheraton's Vistana Resorts to the Comfort Suites at the Village. There are vacation packages for all levels of guests. The Residences, an upscale condominium complex, also offers some opportunities for rentals.
Ponce de Leon may or may not have found a source for perpetual youth in St. Augustine but no golfer will leave the area without wonderful memories of a great golfing experience at the World Golf Village on Florida's First Coast. MG
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