World Golf Village

    By James Y. Bartlett

    Golfers get their own museum at the World Golf Hall of Fame.

    The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum in St. Augustine — at the ripe age of 10 years old — is making strides in its effort to be as synonymous with golf as Cooperstown is to baseball, or Canton to football.

    While the World Golf Hall of Fame has always been an interactive experience, with golf swing simulators and other hands-on exhibits, the facility is also extremely museum-like. The interior of the museum holds numerous display and exhibit areas, as well as the centralized Shell Hall which contains bronze plaques of the members and new Inductee exhibits, just like Cooperstown enshrines baseball's past greats.

    Located just off Interstate 95 between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, the World Golf Hall of Fame is the centerpiece of a golf destination resort, World Golf Village, which includes two championship golf courses, several accommodation options and the first-class PGA TOUR Golf Academy.

    From an Old Course to New Exhibits

    A permanent exhibit developed in cooperation with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, home of the world's ruling body in golf, includes exhibits tracking the history of the Open Championship, the oldest major title in golf. It also features centuries-old artifacts on the rules of the game, a huge diorama of the famous Old Course in St. Andrews and a replica of the Roman-era stone bridge over the Swilcan Burn on the Old Course's 18th hole. Visitors can get a souvenir photo showing them crossing the famous bridge.

    Also, the hall of fame works with the British Golf Museum, which is located next to the R&A clubhouse at St. Andrews, on an exhibit that gives information about the hall of fame to visitors to the British museum.

    The hall of fame's temporary exhibits highlight the careers and exploits of golfing heroes and have included the likes of Byron Nelson, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer.

    The World Golf Hall of Fame also contains an IMAX theater, with ever-changing films on a wide variety of subjects.

    Hit the Links Outside the Hall

    Visitors to the hall of fame need only step outside to hit the links. Outside the hall is an 18-hole, natural-grass putting course that visitors can play. Also outside is a 132-yard par-3 island green, reminiscent of the TPC PLAYERS Stadium course at nearby Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

    For hungry visitors, the hall of fame's café offers quick snacks, while the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant serves lunch and dinner.

    The World Golf Village, which surrounds the hall of fame, includes several resort hotels and two 18-hole golf courses that are open to visitors. The King & Bear course was co-designed by past rivals Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer while the Slammer & Squire course was a joint design effort of two other Hall inductees, Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. The PGA Tour Golf Academy offers golf instruction from 30-minute private lessons to two-, three-and five-day golf schools throughout the year.

    For those who want to stay at the World Golf Village and enjoy all the amenities of the resort and of the hall of fame, choices include the Renaissance Resort, the Grande Villas, Comfort Suites and the Village Residences. All are within walking distance of the World Golf Hall of Fame.