Florida, a Golfers ParadiseWords by Jennifer Stein
Florida, a Golfers Paradise
Words by John Roark
Blue skies, sunshine, and year-round warm weather have made Florida one of the premier destinations in the world - and a paradise for golfers. Whatever your skill level, you’ll find limitless courses designed by the world’s top pros, and an array of resorts that cater to golfers - many of which have full courses and practice facilities right on site - and offer plenty for non-golfers as well.
Palm Coast and St. Augustine
Just south of St. Augustine in Palm Coast, Hammock Beach is an upscale escape overlooking two miles of undisturbed Atlantic shoreline complete with two championship golf courses, a 10,000 square-foot spa, a water park complex, indoor pool and a variety of fine dining choices. You’ll also find multiple backdrops for your storybook wedding, including the hotel’s own Sundancer, a 117-foot event yacht perfect for rehearsal dinners, weddings or receptions.
The Ocean Course - This 7,201-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature design features six oceanfront holes, plus well-protected greens designed to require strategic tee shots. Nicklaus himself says, “As it relates to the East Coast in the United States, you are not going to get any better than you have right here."
The Conservatory - A Tom Watson design, this 7,776-yard, 18-hole course is recognized as one of the toughest courses in Florida, with 140 acres of dramatic elevation and undulating greens. Ranked among Golf Digest’s and Golfweek’s best courses in 2008.
The nation's oldest city also holds the distinction of being one of the most charming. Located between north east and central east Florida and easily accessible to the Jacksonville, Orlando and Daytona airports, you’ll find quaint shops and restaurants, plus plenty of authentic American history.
Marineland – Dolphin Conservation Center
Near St. Augustine, Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center is a fascinating educational experience for all ages. Built in 1938 as a site to film underwater footage for Hollywood movies, Marineland is now one of the country’s most respected centers for dolphin research and conservation. A variety of programs allow you to swim, play and learn with the dolphins. For a truly unforgettable ceremony, inquire about their Dream Dolphin Weddings.
Hop into a kayak for a guided eco tour - and don’t be surprised if you see dolphins, manatees, otters and more! There’s always a trained paddler nearby to answer questions and point out the hidden residents of the natural saltwater habitat.
This four-diamond resort is one of the nation's premier golf and leisure retreats. Fifteen acres of recreation, championship golf (including the area’s only lighted 9-hole, par 3 golf course), a European-style spa, five restaurants and 15 acres of pools and recreation, including an 850-foot lazy river. Only 20 minutes from Universal Studios and SeaWorld, the Omni also has complimentary shuttles to all four Walt Disney World theme parks.
International and National Courses at Omni Orlando Resort
The 36 holes of world-class golf at ChampionsGate were designed to give golfers a blend of traditional and modern elements. The International Course offers an authentic link-style golf experience, reminiscent of the great golf courses of the British Isles.
David Leadbetter Golf Academy World Headquarters
Fine-tune your game and learn from the pros - moments away from the Omni Orlando, DLGA ChampionsGate offers golfers of all ages and skill levels the finest learning and practice facilities to help “build a lifelong game.” Don’t miss: Capture, compare and improve your swing with the V1 Pro Swing Analysis. Your instructor will digitally record you, then email you an in-depth analysis, which includes your swing synched side-by-side with a top pro.
Blue Water Balloons: Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
Go up, up and away with a sunrise balloon ride, seeing Florida as you’ve never seen it before! Flights take place every morning at sunrise (weather permitting) and include an hour of actual flying time. And yes - they do weddings.
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