Hang 10: Reasons to plan a golf vacation to Florida's First Coast

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 19, 2012, 3:13 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The First Coast of Florida, or Jacksonville area, offers dozens of public golf choices, great weather and terrific dining at an array of price points. It's easy to get to with plenty of other activities, such as fishing and hanging out at the beach, to complement the golf experience.

Here are 10 reasons to plan a golf vacation in the Jacksonville area:

1. World Golf Hall of Fame

Located in St. Augustine at the World Golf Village, a trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame, especially for first-timers, can't be overrated. There's so much to do and see at this huge facility. Not only are there the stories and exhibits from the 136 inductees, but the Hall of Fame also tells the story of golf, in exacting detail, from its beginnings to the modern game. There are interactive exhibits, like a putting green where you can use an old hickory putter, or the facsimile of the 17th at Sawgrass outside, where you can take your shot at an island green. And around the Hall of Fame is the World Golf Village and Renaissance Hotel, a perfect location for a stay-and-play, hall-of-fame weekend.

2. TPC Sawgrass

The Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass is considered the fifth major, making Ponte Vedra Beach the place to be in May. But it's also a great destination the rest of the year, not only because of Pete Dye's classic modern classic Players Stadium Course, but also because of the imposing 77,000-square-foot Mediterranean clubhouse. Inside is a virtual museum dedicated to the Players Championship as well as the PGA Tour and the game of golf itself. There are large mural paintings depicting the great moments of the Players, artifacts and clubs used over the years and a terrific bar and restaurant that are worth going to even if you don't play one of the courses there.

3. Great golf academies

The Jacksonville area is loaded with golf academies and schools designed to help players of all levels. From the 2,800-square-foot Tour Academy TPC Sawgrass to the PGA Tour Academy at the World Golf Village, golfers can take advantage of the best instructors and latest computer and video technology to break down and improve their golf games. Other popular schools include the Golf Made Simple training facilities at The Golf Club at North Hampton in Amelia Island and The Golf Club at South Hampton in St. Augustine.

4. Spectacular spas

When you've had enough golf, there are several great spas to visit to help you work out the kinks on your swing. Resorts like the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Laterra Resort and One Ocean Resort as well as Sawgrass Marriott and World Golf Village offer a full array of spa treatments and relaxation.

5. Wide range of accommodations

Everything from the Hampton Inn to high-end golf resorts like the Renaissance at World Golf Village, Sawgrass Marriott and Ponte Vedra Inn are at your disposal in the Jacksonville area. They range from economy to Five Diamond luxury, satisfying every price point and need. And many of them, like the Sawgrass Marriott, have their own beach access.

6. Golf courses by the sea

If you've dreamed of playing seaside golf -- and not paying a fortune -- than the Jacksonville area and Nassau County and Amelia Island are great destinations. You have your choice of courses with the beach as a backdrop, such as Omni Amelia Island Plantation (Ocean Links Course), Hammock Beach Resort, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and Fernandina Beach Municipal Golf Course.

7. Mayport Shrimp and offshore fishing

North Florida is the home of the modern shrimping industry (Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island), and you can eat this stuff to your heart's content -- boiled, sauteed, fried -- it doesn't get any better. Nothing makes a golf game better than some Mayport Shrimp after your round. And if you get tired of playing golf, charter a fishing boat for a little offshore action. It's an experience you won't soon forget and more affordable than you think.

8. Fall football and golf

In the fall you can combine love of football (Jacksonville Jaguars) with love of golf and the weather is generally perfect. If you're an NFL fan, Jacksonville is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and there are plenty of college programs within easy driving distance. Better than that, though, you can play golf and take in football at a great 19th hole.

9. Historic St. Augustine

Florida's First Coast of Golf encompasses the oldest city in the U.S. (St. Augustine) and the only piece of land in the U.S. to have been under eight flags of domination (Amelia Island). This is where Ponce de Leon was said to discover the fountain of youth, if you believe in that sort of stuff, and where Ponce de Leon's World Famous Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine commemorates the discovery of Florida in 1513.

10. Mild weather, ocean breezes, easy access

Jacksonville's subtropical climate means it doesn't get too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. The ocean breezes usually keep the temperatures down into the low 90s, even in the heart of summer, and it doesn't get any better than spring and fall in the Jacksonville area, when temperatures top out in the upper 70s to mid-80s. There are also lots of flights to the Jacksonville area, and it's not far from Orlando either, if you'd like to pair your golf vacation with a trip to the theme parks like Disney World or Universal Studios. Located on the East Coast right off of Interstate 95, everything is relatively easy to get to, with plenty of choices for dining and other recreational activities.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”