A Hammock Beach Resort vacation: A spacious family-friendly getaway (with sublime golf)

June 29, 2019
The 18th hole at the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort runs right along the beach.

As a golfer, golf fan and golf writer, the sport obviously plays a big part of my life — and my vacations. But then I became a father, and while searching for a warm-weather getaway earlier this spring, boy, do you realize how quickly priorities change. With a 14-month-old now on board, my wife and I craved a short flight, good food and comfortable, family-friendly accommodations… plus a little golf for me to sneak in. Oh, and a Pack ‘n Play.

It wasn’t long until I stumbled upon the sprawling Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Fla., and it checked all the boxes: golf (for me), a spa (for her) and all the other goodies. Here’s why Hammock Beach worked for us.

THE LOCATION

Florida was an obvious choice for several reasons. We wanted to escape south for warmer weather, plus we wanted a beach and a flight that was less than three hours (parents understand that last one). Hammock Beach is within 90 minutes of three airports: Daytona Beach (30 minutes), Jacksonville (75 minutes) and Orlando (90 minutes). We chose Orlando because it had more flights and offered a cheaper rental car, but all three airports provide flexible options.

The entrance to Hammock Beach Resort is hard to miss.

THE GOLF

There are two 18-hole courses at Hammock Beach, the Ocean Course and the Conservatory Course. (Packages with a one-night stay and one round start at $132.) The newer Conservatory Course is a Tom Watson design loaded with bunkers (over 130), undulating fairways and risk-rewards shots. Both nines end with challenging dogleg par-5s that wrap around water — no oceanside holes here, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see any water hazards — where three good shots can give you a birdie chance. Good holes, although the par-3 island-green 8th is where you’ll take your phone out to snap some photos.

The Ocean Course, a Jack Nicklaus design restored in 2018, ranks 86th on GOLF’s most recent list of Top 100 Courses You Can Play. One-third of its holes are along the ocean. The 17th green is practically on the beach (I know because I almost hit it there) as is the 18th fairway (I know because I almost hit it there). The Ocean Course, for all its spectacular views, is not easy. I told a pro shop worker I was a 16 handicap, hadn’t played in four months and was using rental clubs. I asked if six balls were enough to get through my round. “I’ll see you at the turn,” he said. I wish I could tell you he was wrong. Water and sand and tight lies around the greens abound. Bring your A game.

A view of the Ocean Course, and the Atlantic Ocean, from one of the rooms at Hammock Beach Resort.

THE FOOD

There are three main restaurants on the property in Loggerheads (a pub), Atlantic Grille (great seafood and a view) and Delfinos (high-end Italian). We spent more of our time at the Atlantic Grille, which had great breakfast options and looked over the 18th green of the Ocean Course. There are also room service options if you want a lazy night in, and each room comes with varying sizes of kitchenettes to cook yourself.

THE LODGING

There are different options: suites, villas and the lodge, the latter an ocean-front boutique hotel. We stayed in one of the suites and had a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and 10th hole of the Ocean Course, and our massive balcony was perfect for morning sunrises (we were up plenty early). But you’re in luck, too: There’s an outdoor balcony for every room.

The rooms at Hammock Beach Resort are spacious.

THE KIDS STUFF

The reason we went to Hammock Beach was because it was family friendly, and our daughter loved her first time in a pool and on a beach. There’s an indoor pool (where we spent most of our time) in addition to three other outdoor spots, including a lazy river I’m still bummed I never waded through. There’s also mini golf and lots of other daily activities to fill out an itinerary.

One of the many water options at Hammock Beach Resort.

Nicklaus Design and GOLF.com are operated by the same holding company, 8AM Golf.