Putting on the Ritz: Nobody does pampering like Ritz-Carlton, and north Florida's version, the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (ritzcarlton.com/ameliaisland, 904-277-1100,), is surprisingly affordable. It may get lost in the shuffle because the Amelia name sounds similar to other resorts in the region, but this Ritz offers up terrific, ever-changing packages, plus playing privileges at the otherwise private Golf Club of Amelia Island ($99-$165), a Mark McCumber/Gene Littler design adjacent to the Summer Beach community. Its 6,692 yards are all you need when the wind is gusting from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.
For Sale: Sick of waiting on the foursome in front of you? One expensive remedy is to buy your very own course. The Moors (moors.com), a pseudo-Scottish design in Milton (northeast of Pensacola) complete with mounds, pot bunkers and native grasses, is currently for sale. Raymond Floyd, Gil Morgan and Lee Trevino all won Senior Tour events here.
Like a Pro: The TPC Sawgrass offers a Tour Player Experience package, which includes a round on the Stadium course, VIP room at the Sawgrass Resort & Spa, VIP locker room privileges, professional caddie with your name on his bib, a reserved practice area, a first tee announcement and VIP dining, among other amenities. The once-in-a-lifetime deal is not cheap at $1,527 (double occupancy) during the high season (October to mid-November; March to mid-June), but what a memory. For more info go to pgatourexperiences.com or call 800-766-7939.
From the Expert: "There are two major sporting events that visiting golfers need to know about while planning their trip down to Northeast Florida. First is The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Since it was moved from March to May a few years ago the event has only drawn bigger crowds to the area, but the event is still accessible and area courses usually have tee times available that week.
The second is when the University of Florida football team plays Georgia in Jacksonville. Most courses do their annual maintenance a few weeks prior to that game to be ready for all the college football fans. And in early November, rates aren't near peak season (mid-February through mid-May), tee time availability is good and temperatures are in the 70s."
-- David Reese, president, Florida's First Coast of Golf (florida-golf.org)
Travelin' Joe Says
"'If you love golf, you've got to go' ... and if you watch golf on television, you've heard this PSA for the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine a million times. Whether you listen to Ben Crenshaw, Gary Player or me, do yourself a favor and go. It's that good.
"There's tons of stuff for the golfer, both practical and trivial, from interactive exhibits such as trying out old-fashioned equipment, to perusing records and legacies of golf's hall-of-famers, to an IMAX Theater. If you eat, breathe and sleep golf, this is the place to indulge your passion."
If you have downloaded the My Pro To Go app (myprotogo.com) and want an in-person swing consultation, or just need a tune-up before starting your first round here, head to GolfTec's location in Jacksonville (904-998-4650)