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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Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.



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Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”