King and Bear - WORLD GOLF VILLAGE (904-940-6100)
Florida Golf Course Review
The World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida is a "must visit" for golf enthusiasts. The sprawling complex boasts two 4-star championship golf courses -
the King and Bear designed in collaboration by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and the Slammer and Squire by Bobby Weed, plus the World Golf Hall of
Fame, the PGA Tour Golf Academy, an 18-hole putting course, an Imax Theatre, designer shops, plus upscale amenities at a variety of on-site
accommodations. You can take a virtual tour of the Golf Hall of Fame, and will find many other interesting features on the WGV website, including info on stay and play packages, by clicking here.
King and Bear Review
There is only one golf course designed by the team of Nicklaus and Palmer - and the King and Bear is it! This 7279 yard layout features distinctive nines
with wide fairways lined with loblolly pines amongst open meadows on the front, and tighter landing areas defined by a multitude of mature oak trees on the
back. Coquina rock can be found in several bunkers and on cart paths, and also line the edges of lakes which bring water into play on 16 of the 18 holes.
The clubhouse is gorgeous - a classic design situated in prime view of the course and practice area. There is a full service pro shop, locker rooms with
showers and beautiful restaurant and lounge. A complimentary grass range includes stacks of range balls and hitting areas pointing to target areas. The
putting green is spacious, and a short game area also includes bunkers.
On course golfers will find beautifully landscaped fairways, tee areas and bunkers - and green complexes that are incredibly inviting. Water hazards often
come into play (on 17 of 18 holes) - but there a few long forced carries. Pro Link GPS is standard on all carts, and directional stakes are centered in the
fairways at 150 yards away on par fours and 225 yards out on par fives. Wide fairways are a rule rather than exception, and the "bump and run" approach
can be utilized on many of these large receptive greens. This is a type of course that will reward you for striking the ball well - as there are no hidden
agendas...After playing quite a number of courses all over Florida this winter - we agreed that the World Golf Village courses were conditioned as well as any we have experienced.
Five sets of tee boxes allow golfers of all skill levels to choose s distance that fits their game. The Tips measure a whopping 7279 yards with a 141 slope,
with the alternate sets weighing in at 6855/139 slope, 6506/135 slope, 5987/128 slope for men and 137 for women and 5119 with a 123 slope rating. The
blue (middle tees) are recommended for those with a handicap between 7-15, and feature three 400 yard plus par fours. Those with a 15+ handicap
should play the whites, for a more enjoyable and justly paced round.
The beginning hole provides a generous landing area with a tee shot aimed towards the left fairway trap an advised play. Number two plays over a water
hazard with the borders lined with imported coquina rock and the approach being 1/2 to 1 club uphill. The generous landing area short of the green on the
par three 3rd allows for a bump and run chip, to an extremely large putting surface. The short par four 4th can be reached by long hitters, and is a good
birdie opportunity if played to the right side of the fairway. On five, a tee shot hit over the left edge of the large fairway bunker will lead to an advantageous
second shot. With The green tucked to the right past an intimidating water hazard - it is best to lay up on the second and play a wedge to the receptive
green. The beach bunker and pond on the right will convince may to approach the par three 6th from the left side of the boomerang shaped green. This is
a pretty reasonable up and down possibility. Seven doglegs left around a pond with three accurate shots necessary to reach in regulation. The second
shot will most likely carry the hazard, which also comes in play just short and left of the putting complex. One can grip it and rip it off the tee on eight - with
the best location being over the left edge of the fairway traps. From the back 3 tees this is a tough par, but it is much more playable (389 yards) from the
white tees. Number nine is the # 1 handicap with a lake in play all along the right side, and some room just left of the green. Hug the right edge and the
hole shortens, but the approach must carry the hazard.
The back side opens with a par four featuring water on both sides. Aim left for an easier approach - stay right and you will have to negotiate an
intimidating greenside bunker. Eleven is a short and score-able par three with ample bail out room short right. Do this however, and you may be
confronted with a long chip over a ridge that separates the double tiered putting surface. Aim over the left edge of the fairway trap and the approach over
water becomes easier on 12, which is a short but challenging four par. Thirteen begins from an elevated tee to a well bunkered tree lined fairway, leading
to a green that is also well guarded. Avoid the traps and this hole can be had. As with all the par threes on this course, there is some bail out room short of
the 14th green - this time to the left side away from the water hazard. The fifteenth is a beautiful par four that bends right to a putting complex featuring a
rock retainer wall along the front and right side of a peninsula green. The long par four 16th is lined with Loblolly pines and plays to a huge green that
slopes off immediately behind. Par is a great score here. Number 17 also plays to a tight fairway, this time lined with mature oaks. This green complex
features a triad of bunkers making for a demanding approach. "Bear's Claw" is the name of the finishing hole - a risk/reward par five that can be reached
in two by long hitters that hug the left side of the fairway. Wetlands linger past the coquina waste area along that side, and a huge waste bunker from 170
to 30 yards in front of the green will also have to be dealt with. Played safely to the right side, this hole is a reasonable par.
After numerous rounds in various sections of Florida - we were all hard pressed to name a course that we enjoyed more than the KING & BEAR. This is a
great golf course that has all one could ask for...from beginners to scratch golfers. Choose the tee area that suits your game - and arrive early to enjoy the
complimentary practice facilities. Lunch or beverages afterwards are also recommended.
TIP: If you are playing the King & Bear course, do not turn into the World Golf Village property - the King & Bear is located approximately 3 miles past the
entrance to the WGV.
Click here for an information page for this golf course with a link to its website (if available.)