PONTE VEDRA OCEAN COURSE (904-285-1111)
Florida Golf Course Review
The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is a beautiful 250 acre oceanfront resort that has been a Florida landmark since 1928. For the second consecutive year, this property has been
awarded the Five-Diamond Award - one of the most prestigious designations in the hospitality industry, awarded to only 18 resorts in the U.S. Golf Digest also selected Ponte
Vedra Inn & Club as one of the "Top 75 Resorts in America". Three generations of guests and resort members can now enjoy facilities that underwent a 70 million dollar
renovation in 2002. The 250 rooms and suites exude class and sophistication, with amenities worthy of mention in the Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best Resorts and
Great Hotels. 36 holes of championship golf are complimented by 15 tennis courts, four pools, a sandy beach, four restaurants and 3 lounges, a 10,000 square foot luxury spa
(with over 100 services available) and one of the most expansive health clubs on the East Coast - two stories and over 8,000 square feet. Click here to view the Two Guys Who Golf
informational page on the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, with detailed text, abundant photos, plus a link to the property's own web site.
The Ocean Course
NOTE - play on the Ocean and Lagoon Courses is open to guests and members of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club - you must stay here to play here!
The Ocean Course is one of two four star layouts at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, and has a place in the historical annuls of golf. Originally designed in 1928 by world renowned
designer Herbert Strong, The Ocean Course won acclaim as one of the "four hardest courses in America" in 1938 and was scheduled to host the 1939 Ryder Cup. Walter Hagan
was captain of a US team that featured Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. The event was cancelled due to the impending war, and after World War II guests of the Inn suggested the
ocean links design be softened. Robert Trent Jones, know for his "tough par but easy bogey" philosophy, was brought in to complete the job. Though renovated, the above pictured
ninth green has remained basically in tact. The small putting greens located in front of the resort were also kept as part of history, as they were originally involved in the Jones
designed 18-hole "miniature course" with holes ranging from 14-27 yards in length. The work that Mr. Jones did at Ponte Vedra along with August National capitulated his career,
which now includes signature designs and renovations at more than 400 courses worldwide. In 1961, Gary Player was brought in as the club's playing professional, and Robert
Trent Jones was brought back to design 9 new holes. Seventeen years later the Lagoon Course was completed when architect Joe Lee designed the second nine. Bobby Weed
made final renovations to the resort's courses in the mid-nineties, careful to remain true to the original designer's traditional concepts.
Today golfers will find that the Ocean Course retains some of the signature characteristics of both Herbert Strong and Robert Trent Jones, and is a "thinking player's course". The
ninth green is a good example, as multiple bunkers, grass swales and an undulating putting surface will challenge any golfer's quest for par, yet five sets of tee boxes ranging
from 105 to 144 yards make the hole playable. Throughout the layout, golfers will find beautifully landscaped grounds and exquisite green complexes, often bordered by bunkers,
water hazards and tropical foliage. The Ocean Course has served as a site for the U.S. Open Qualifyer 5 times and has been rated among the "Top Ten Courses in Florida" by Links Magazine.
The clubhouse serves both courses and features a pro shop, a beautiful restaurant and lounge, plus locker room facilities with showers for men and women. The men's locker
room even has its own restaurant & sitting area, with shoe service as well. A grass range and practice green are also on property. On course golfers will appreciate the fact that
the cart paths are marked at 200, 150 and 100 yards - a feature we wish more courses would adopt. Sprinkler heads also provide measurements to the center of the green, and
pin placement sheets are posted inside all carts.
The five sets of tee boxes measure 6811 yards/138 slope, 6498/134 slope, 6066/128 slope, 5618/122 slope and 4967 with a 117 slope rating. The average golfer should play from
the middle set (white tees), which features no par fours over 396 yards in length. With the prevalent ocean "breezes", one will find that many of the holes will play considerably
longer. On our review round, we encountered wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour, with the temps reaching just 50 wet degrees in the middle of a seasonal cold front. Throw in the
Ocean links design, and we sometimes felt as though we were transported to the Brittish Open! Irregardless - this was in incredible golf experience.
The initial hole of the Ocean Course is a good beginner - the 11th ranked handicap, and a par four with plenty of room for error all the way to the green. The short par four second is
also manageable, though a water hazard on the right comes into play quickly near the green, forcing a lot of misses to the left side. A tee shot hit over the middle fairway bunker will
cut off a little distance on the long par five third. The fairway is dotted with sand traps and earthen mounds from the original 1928 design, and the approach is significantly uphill on
this number one handicap. We found the fourth to be even trickier, however. With the prevalent wind at our backs, our tee shots came perilously close to the water hazard resting at
the end of the fairway. A lay up to the 180-170 area is a great play here. Get greedy and you may be surprised to discover that your ball is no where to be found. The approach is a
demanding one - over water and uphill to a back to front sloped putting surface. This hole is recognized as one of North Florida's toughest! After four holes with the wind, we were
now confronted with 5 in a row into a stiff headwind. The par three fifth is long and is extremely tough to reach in regulation if the wind is in your face. There is plenty of room in the
grassy hollows and sand traps protecting the green.There is plenty of room on hole number 5, though badly mis-hit tee shots may reach the OB left or one of many fairway bunkers
to the right. The second shot is best played right of center, to avoid the lagoon that comes into play about 80 yards out on the left. A generous fairway also awaits on the par four 7th,
though the raised green has a false front that may reject shots hitting the short side of the putting surface. Eight doglegs to the right past the fairway trap on that side, with a tee
shot to the left center leaving a simple approach. The closing hole on the front is one of the most storied holes in Florida - a beautiful par three with an island green surrounded by
7 bunkers plus abundant swales and collection areas. Miss the green and trouble lurks on all sides.
The back side is noticeable shorter, and is less directly into the prevailing wind. Number ten is a tempting par four that is best played cautiously. Land just right of the center fairway
bunker about 100 yards out, and the approach to a putting complex that features water on 3 sides becomes much easier. The peninsula green on this # 18 handicap is elevated
and undulating, with a back to front slope. Eleven is a long driving hole, but a bump and run entrance can be used for an efficient up and down, on shots falling short in regulation.
The par three 12th plays uphill, and precedes one of the highest handicapped holes on the course. During our round however, this par five played with the wind on our backs and
was an easy scoring hole. The pond along the right side squeezes the fairway about 50 yards from the green on number 14. Approach from the left side to avoid this hazard, and
pay attention to the pin placement as the putting surface is quite contoured. The dogleg left 15th also played with the wind behind us, and as we found out is best played along the
left tree line. Anything hit right of center has a good chance of continuing through the fairway. Number 16 is a dramatic beauty! This par three plays over water with very little room
for error. The green is triple tiered, so it is important to go for the pin. There are some interesting putts if you land on the wrong side. A very rolling fairway features 2 huge center
fairway traps and leads to an extremely uphill approach to an elevated, well bunkered green. Par is great here. The18th is a score-able finishing hole - a par short par four along a
narrow fairway to a large, contoured putting surface.
The Ocean Course was one of the most memorable golfing experiences on our ten round NE Florida golf tour. Book a round here and you will not regret it. There are many
memorable holes, and the variety in layout is such that the course is never boring. You will most likely use every club in your bag, and will enjoy doing it. The Flora Dwarf putting
surfaces were some of the best we have experienced in Florida. Highly recommended!
Visit our page for the Ocean Course - with a link to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club website by clicking here.