Most golfers I know get fired up when they watch the big boys on the PGA Tour, especially in person. It makes them want to get out and play, to try and copy those powerful, yet velvety-smooth swings.
So with THE PLAYERS Championship going on this week, Ponte Vedra Beach and environs will be swarming with bad golfers like me looking for courses to play, in futile attempts to copy our betters.
I know the area exceedingly well, since I grew up there, so here are a few recommendations of public courses in the area.
- Ponte Vedra Golf and Country Club, located in the Sawgrass community, is accepting outside play these days. It's sort of a stretched, executive course with six par-3s.
- St. Johns Golf and Country Club is an upscale course with workingman green fees. This is a very versatile facility; it can play at over 7,000 yards from the back tees – sorry, little fellas, you need permission to play from back there – or can be family-friendly as the forward tees go down to 2,400 yards. The course has excellent greens.
- The Golf Club at South Hampton, designed by Jacksonville native Mark McCumber, has been one of my favorites in the area for years. It isn't as critically acclaimed as North Hampton, but I love South Hampton because it's wide open, with room to put the hammer down on almost every hole.
- And of course World Golf Village has those two excellent courses, the King and Bear, designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus – a true collaboration in fact, not just in name – and the Slammer and Squire, designed by Bobby Weed with input from "player consultants" and legends Gene Sarazen and Slammin' Sammy Snead. Most golfers prefer the King and Bear, but you won't go wrong with either.
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