Jacksonville may not be the first place you think of when contemplating a golf vacation in Florida but maybe the First Coast should be your first choice.
by Dana R. Butler
Jacksonville sits nestled in the extreme northeast corner of a state known for its vacation destinations. It is a new southern city that traces its roots back to 1564. How is such a paradox possible? Northeast Florida was the first area of settlement by Europeans, hence the name ³First Coast,² and was one of the first battlegrounds for European control of North America. In 1901, the burgeoning city of Jacksonville was leveled by a devastating fire. Now, nearly 100 years later, the new city has developed into a jewel of the eastern coast, an area featuring 47 golf courses, rich dining and shopping experiences, a wide variety of leisure activities ranging from amusement parks to protected wilderness parks, a storied history, and more than 20 miles of white sand beaches.
They say that every day is a good day for golf in northeast Florida. Nearby Ponte Vedra Beach is the home of the PGA Tour and also features the well-known Marriott at Sawgrass Resort. The second largest golf resort in the U.S., the Marriott boasts five championship courses, including two TPC courses: the PGA’s TPC Stadium Course, Sawgrass Country Club, TPC Valley Course, Marsh Landing, and Oak Bridge. Each spring, The Players Championship is played here on the Stadium Course. Golf vacation packages are available which include lodging and play on the Oak Bridge course.
Many other challenging courses await golfers of any skill level. The ageless course at Baymeadows Golf Club is one of Jacksonville’s finest semi-private tracks. The Golf Club of Jacksonville is surrounded by mature pines and Florida wetlands. Managed by the PGA, this is a great value. The Palm Coast Resort is another with five courses from which to choose. South of the city, Palm Coast is located on the Intracoastal Waterway. Some legendary course designers have left their mark here: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player, to name a few.
With the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway, numerous tidal creeks, various lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean, water–and watersports–are never far away. There is sightseeing, sunbathing, surfing, seashell hunting, and even more golf. Fishing guides can be hired for half-day or full-day offshore or inshore fishing excursions, or those with their own equipment can drop a line almost at will. Bikes can be rented and taken for leisurely trips along the beach or around the rugged terrain of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park in Mayport. The other coastal communities of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach also offer stretches of peaceful white sand with restaurants, shopping, and night life close by. Possibilities abound. Atlantic Beach offers quaint shops, galleries, and Peterbrooke Chocolatier, a hometown favorite famous for their chocolate-covered popcorn. Antique lovers will find a haven at Worth Gallery in Jacksonville Beach.
Call Minority Golf & Sports Magazine 1-720-258-0021 for the full article on the Beaches at Jacksonville.