Amelia Island golf stands tall despite Plantations troubles

By Jeff BarrMarch 17, 2010, 9:52 pm
Amelia Island Plantation Golf Club
Amelia Island Plantation

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – There is plenty of uncertainly when considering the state of golf in this resort community about 35 miles north of Jacksonville.

Amelia Island Plantation, the home of 72 holes that are the most well known, scenic and most difficult on the island, is currently in the process of reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. There is a possibility that the resort could lose at least one of its courses, and this puts the Amelia Island’s entire golf picture in flux.

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At first glance, it might seem that neighboring golf facilities would welcome the idea of fewer courses with which to compete. But operators of other Amelia Island golf clubs say just the opposite is true.

“It’s no good for anyone on the island if Amelia Plantation loses a course,” said Jon Walker, Golf Marketing Director at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach, an 18-hole beauty a few miles around the corner from Amelia Island Plantation. “From the outside looking in, anything negative that happens concerning any golf course on the island is a negative thing for all of us.”

The good news at Amelia Island Plantation is that the facility found a way to help it stay financially viable.  The Plantation has signed with Red Maple Investors, LLC, to keep the resort up and running.

'All of us in RMI want to protect this little paradise we have come to love,” said investor Robert C. Smith, at a news conference announcing the agreement. “And, we are willing to put up our own money to assure its success far into the future.'

Red Maple Investors is made up of 22 homeowners on the island. The agreement allows the Plantation to restructure its debt and liabilities, and continue to operate. Good news, perhaps, but it still leaves plenty of questions about where Amelia Island golf will stand after the dust settles at the Plantation.

Amid the uncertainty, there are a couple of sure things nearby that make Amelia Island a dynamic place for a golfer to visit, regardless of what happens at Amelia Island Plantation.

The Golf Club of Amelia Island
at Summer Beach and its next-door neighbor, Fernandina Beach Golf Club, are both worth playing, for very different reasons. The former is a private resort course, and the latter is one of the best public facilities in the Jacksonville area. There are other courses in the area, but — other than the Plantation — Fernandina Beach and The Golf Club of Amelia Island are the region’s leaders in golf.

The Golf Club at Amelia Island, which can be played by guests of the adjacent Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and residents of Summer Beach golf community, is the more discerning of the two. It’s a resort course that is playable for the mid-handicapper, but from the back tees it can be a viable round even for the scratch golfer.

“It’s a forgiving course, which makes it perfect for many of our guests,” said Keith Gibson, head PGA professional at The Golf Club at Amelia Island. “And, it has some very nice golf holes.”

The two nines at Amelia Island are distinct in personality, which offers variety for golfers of all skill level. There’s the front, with tree-lined fairways and several hidden, man-made water features. Then comes the back, a much more natural setting with native grasses, protected wetlands and several breathtaking spots.

The most memorable stretch comes at Nos. 14-16, where it’s tough to choose which is more prominent: challenge or beauty.

The terrific trio comprises a par-5, a par-4 and a par-3. and each requires a carry over the aforementioned wetlands.

“It’s a great stretch and it’s a treat to play,” said Jon Walker, Golf Marketing Director at The Golf Club at Amelia Island. “They are the most talked-about holes on the course, that’s for sure.”

You don’t have to travel far to find another island treat. A touch more than a mile away lays Fernandina Beach Golf Club. The 27-hole facility is purely public, and is one of the most popular municipal facilities in Florida. But don’t let the word “municipal” fool you; Fernandina Beach is a great place to play.

There have been initial discussions about a public/private partnership to operate the course in the future, but Fernandina Beach Golf Club will remain open, regardless of the operating arrangement. The first meeting on the matter was held in January, and no one knows for sure if any change will be made. Regardless, the 27 holes are open, and will continue to welcome all comers.

Not as tough as the Plantation, yet more challenging than the Golf Club of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach has carved itself a solid niche for island golfers to explore.

The North nine was built in 1957 and stood alone for several years. It’s the least challenging of the three layouts, so more skilled players might want to opt for a West/South combination.

The North features open fairways, and is a short test at 3,094 yards. To add what teeth it can muster to its challenge, it relies on small greens to force accuracy on the approach.

The West course, built a few years later, is similar in design and style to the North, but its length stands in stunning contrast to the original nine. At 3,683 yards, it is fairly long for a typical nine-hole track, and it seems particularly lengthy when stacked up against its neighbor to the north.

A 607-yard par 5 at No. 2 West lets you know early in the round that you’ve stepped onto a completely different layout. Length makes the second hole a challenge, not the presence of narrow fairways. Both the North and the West feature the open fairways that welcome most public golfers.

The fairways grow much tighter when players venture over to the South. There is some real estate around the South nine, but it is not disturbing. The homes actually benefit the course in that they result in smaller fairways and larger challenge.

Fernandina Beach Golf Course is a prime example of quality golf within striking distance of the famed Amelia Island Plantation. The course, like its neighbors, presents a stabilizing influence on the community’s golf economy.

Questions on Amelia Island? Certainly.

Top-notch places to play? Just as sure.
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.