Golf in Florida: Are You Ready For These Challenging Golf Courses?

Just got back from Hammock Beach Resort near Jacksonville, Florida. Sixteen of my Tee Club headed south for three days of golf in this spectacular location. (Click on one of the pictures below to see a larger view or click on the link to start the slide show.)

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Non-stop flight from Boston on JetBlue. Most of us took a carry-on and used our golf bags as luggage – so no extra baggage fees! And no hassles with the flight (though we had to get up at 4 am to make the 7am flight! It felt horrible waking up and traveling in the middle of the night, but it was worth it. Gave us a lot of time to settle in at the resort.)

One piece of good luck when we arrived: The resort made a mistake and double booked us! Some golfers were sent to the “top of the line” Tower Suites, the rest were being directed to our original booking – the Villas, which were very nice but a bit “off campus.” Recognizing their mistake, they upgraded all 16 of us to the Tower Suites which were fabulous and very convenient. We were easily able to walk to all the amenities including the Pro Shop for our first round of golf at The Ocean Course.

The Ocean Course: A Jack Nicklaus Signature Design  Golf Magazine names it as a Top 100 Course and one of the top 50 courses for Women three years in a row.  I can tell you it is challenging. Six of the holes run right along the Atlantic Ocean. We were lucky with the weather: 78 – 85 degrees every day: perfect for golf! And the wind was calm and coming from the ocean, so no balls flying off the course and onto the dunes nearby. The biggest challenge was getting used to the greens. They played very fast. It was like putting on glass. Yikes!

LPGA International Legends Golf CourseOur second day was my personal favorite. We traveled south to Daytona and played at the LPGA International Legends course. The course is in wonderful shape, but the fairways are sometimes narrow and there are a lot of hazards that come into play on almost every hole. It was named the No. 1 Choice in “America’s Most Women-Friendly Courses” by Golf .com and received a 4-Star rating from Golf Digest. But it is not an easy course. If you choose to play Legends, be prepared by bringing along a lot of extra balls! Either that or work on your short game. Those mounds of tall grasses seem to be in front of every green!  “This is a course that can gobble up golf balls,” said resident Pro Joe Giomariso. “You can lose it every hole, every shot.” (

The last course was back at Hammock Beach: The Conservatory This is a Tom Watson Signature Design and is the longest course in Florida. We played from the forward tees and used a mix of match play and scramble type formats to keep us moving forward. Even so, it took us nearly five hours to play the course and we were really moving along! Conservatory has a links like style. There are moguls and undulating greens on every hole which proved to be a real challenge. And the greens, like those at the Ocean Course, made you feel like you were putting on glass.

In between rounds we dined in St. Augustine, met for yoga on the beach and floated down the “Lazy River” at the pool. It was a great time and one we all hope to repeat in the future. If you or your group are considering Florida for your next golf adventure I can recommend Hammock Beach Resort as one destination you should consider.

Have you played any of these courses? What was your experience? Add your comment!

  3 comments for “Golf in Florida: Are You Ready For These Challenging Golf Courses?

  1. Diane S. Zeeman
    August 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    The Hammock Beach Resort is in Palm Coast, 65 miles from Jacksonville. There was no mention of Palm Coast in your description of the resort. I live nearby and have played both courses; you are right, they are both great, although the Conservatory is a little tough because of the hills between the cart paths and the greens.

    • August 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks for the geographical clarification Diane. 🙂 I was lucky to be a passenger in a miniVan during this last trip and did not do any driving during this trip, so am a bit clueless as to roads and directions. But you are right to point out the distance visitors will have to drive to get from the airport to the resort. Can be a deal breaker for some. Must tell you though that the place was well worth the ride. Destinations determine!

      • Diane S. Zeeman
        August 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm


        I enjoy your blog. I’m a retired journalist (Gannett Newspapers in New York) and currently write a twice weekly golf column for the Flagler County News-Tribune, part of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. For years, local real estate people used to refer to available homes in the area as located between “historic St. Augustine and Daytona Beach,” never mentioning Palm Coast. The Hammock Beach Resort is a big part of this county now (it is in the unincorporated part of Flagler County and has a Palm Coast address), so I had to speak up for the home town.

        Diane S. Zeeman

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