Florida has long been a favorite golf destination. Now, the new World Golf Village and the world's only World Golf Hall of Fame, give golfers and non-golfers alike a new reason to visit this beautiful and historic part of Florida.
World Golf Hall of Fame
Discover which professional player your swing most resembles in the state-of-the-art swing analyzer. Experience the pressure of putting under the eyes of cameras and spectators and the sensation of victory as you sink the final putt at the "World Golf Hall of Fame Open." Log on to survey statistics and highlights from golf action around the world at the Global Golf Center. Test your skill with an old fashioned putter and ball on the 1880s-style green.
Not your, typical museum experience, the World Golf Hall of Fame is an interactive journey from golf's infancy in Scotland to today's Tigermania. Laid out like a golf course into 18 separate exhibits, the displays wind through the many facets of the game. Best of all, the hand-held Acoustiguide system lets you hear -- in five different languages -- many of the explanations from the golf legends themselves.
Between each nine exhibits, is the actual Hall of Fame, which honors the 76 male and female Hall of Fame members from around the world. Crystal cones contain each member's image, and an interactive database offers facts, sounds, pictures, and video clips that illustrate the golf career and life of each inductee.
Along the way, you'll find quirky, fun artifacts such as Jack Nicklaus' favorite fly-fishing rod, a harmonica that belonged to Babe Zaharias, a golf-related etching by Rembrandt and President Eisenhower's personal golf cart. There's even an exhibit celebrating Alan Shepard's 1,500-yard drive on the moon, when golf became the first interplanetary sport.
But the World Golf Hall of Fame is just the beginning of the fun you can find at World Golf Village. The IMAX Theater currently brings the heights of Mt. Everest, the depths of the Grand Canyon, and raging forest fires alive on its 80-foot wide by six-story high screen and most powerful sound system in the business. Don't skip the 18-hole grass putting course or the 132-yard Million Mile Challenge, where if you sink a hole-in-one you win 50,000 Delta Sky Miles and a chance to come back and compete for one million SkyMiles.
Serious golfers should take a swing at the 18-hole championship course -- The Slammer and The Squire -- named after course consultants and World Golf Hall of Famers Sam Snead and
While the destination will appeal to serious golfers, it's "more geared to the average golfer," says Cathy Harbin, The Slammer & The Squire's director of golf and a Class A PGA member since 1992.
Harbin played on the Professional Golf Mini-Tour for two years. She also has worked as a golf pro at Bonaventure Resort in Fort Lauderdale and at the Golf Club of Miami for the PGA TOUR.
The Slammer and The Squire is challenging but enjoyable, according to Harbin. It is designed so the ball can be played close to the ground. "You could play the course with a putter. We've got five sets of tees that make the course non-gender specific. We designed it for play based on your handicap," Harbin adds. "The fairways are generous. They're very playable for the resort golfer."
The seventh hole, Redan, is fashioned after the renowned Redan at North Berwick in Scotland, a par-3 billed as a "shotmaker's delight."
The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf SENIOR PGA TOUR event is played annually at The Slammer & The Squire in mid-March. The King & The Bear, the second of three courses planned for World Golf Village, is currently under construction. It marks the first time that Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have ever collaborated on designing a golf course. The course is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2000.
Adjacent to the World Golf Village, fronting The Slammer & The Squire" is a 31-acre community, The Residences at World Golf Village. The 31-acre luxury condominium community, sports a clubhouse with a business center that features teleconferencing and state-of-the-art communications technology. EcoGroup of Naples, Fla., designed The Residences, World Golf Village's only community to offer golf course frontage of The Slammer & The Squire.
Bordering the 18th fairway is the 102- unit Vistana Resort at World Golf Village, developed by Orlando-based Vistana, Inc., a vacation ownership villa company. When built out, the resort community will offer about 400 one- and two- bedroom vacation ownership units, ranging in size from 650 to 1,500 square feet.
The destination attraction is expected to bring a new tourism element to northeast Florida.
"It will bring to us a new market which we haven't seen before. World Golf Village gives travelers to Florida an exciting new reason to visit the St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra area," says Glenn Hastings, executive director of the St. Johns County Visitors & Convention Bureau in St. Augustine.
"It adds a whole new dimension to our area's appeal to travelers, particularly for families who want to combine outdoor recreation with sightseeing."
"For golfers, it will have a major impact. The museum is pretty impressive with its interactive activities. It will be equally appealing to both casual and serious golfers. It's also appealing to people who aren't particularly avid golfers," Hastings adds.
The new attraction also is likely to benefit northeast Florida by giving it added appeal as a corporate meetings destination, says Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"This project will substantially increase our profile as a destination for golf vacationers and corporate meetings utilizing golf as an incentive tool, both to the domestic and international markets," Ratcliffe says.
Families driving along Interstate 95 may opt to take a break at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort. The hotel offers 300 luxuriously appointed rooms offering a full complement of amenities. For corporate guests, the attached 80,000-square-foot St. Johns County Convention is the perfect venue for corporate meetings. Serious shoppers should take a look at the world's only PGA TOUR STOP, a 31,000-square-foot golf retail mecca
offering apparel, equipment, home furnishings, collectibles, and everything else a golfer could possibly want.
Visitors lured by history may opt to stay in nearby St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. Founded in 1565, greater St. Augustine offers more than 7,200 guest rooms, suites, and villas, and 26 Victorian and Colonial-style bed and breakfast inns, with more than 150 guest rooms.
World Golf Village has attracted a variety of corporate sponsors, including Shell Oil Company and IBM, the Village's technology provider. Shell, a 20-year founding partner, provides financial support and plays a lead role in the non-profit World Golf Foundation Inc., which will be used to support facilities that introduce golf.
The Foundation's charitable mission is "to introduce golf to those who otherwise may not have an opportunity to experience the game, and through the golf experience promote scholastic achievement, community service and the values of honesty, integrity and sportsmanship."
World Golf Village is the centerpiece of the 6,200-acre Saint Johns Development. Over the next 15 years, Saint Johns is projected to have about 7,200 housing units, 2,000 acres of preserved land and six million square feet of office, commercial and industrial space.
To drive to World Golf Village, exit Interstate 95 at exit 95-A International Golf Parkway north of St. Augustine. The World Village is approximately 40 miles south of Jacksonville International Airport. The St. Augustine-St. Johns County Airport accommodates private planes.
Fast Facts: St. Johns County Visitors & Convention Bureau: 800-OLD-CITY(653-2489), 800-418-PLAY (7529); 904-829-6149; fax 904-829-6149.
World Golf Foundation: 21 World Golf Place, St. Augustine, Fla. 32092; 904-940-4000; Web Site: www.wgv.com. For a current fee scedule, click here.