Hammock Beach Resort Course is a Perfect Mix of Beauty and Brawn
PALM COAST, Fla. – It hasn’t taken long at all for a newcomer to the Champions Tour’s Florida Swing to swing opinion and sentiment toward a course that has established itself as one of the Champions Tour’s best combinations of beauty and brawn. Thus, it’s no accident that the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach – site of the Ginn Championship – is a must-play for the must-see golfers of the Champions Tour.
“Everyone’s spoken well about it. Everyone’s spoken very well of the tournament and the course and I’ve enjoyed myself up there very much,” said one of those must-see golfers, the iconic Gary Player, who is playing in his first Ginn Championship after visiting the site on business.
For the second consecutive year, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course will play host to one of the Champions Tour’s best fields of the season. The March 24-30 Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach features all 30 of the top 30 money winners on the 2007 Champions Tour. Those golfers will tee it up on the only true oceanfront course to open in Florida in the last 70-plus years.
“The bottom line is people really like the golf course. It’s on the ocean there and it’s beautiful,” said Ponte Vedra Beach resident Fred Funk.
There’s plenty to like. Opened in 2000, the Ocean Course has eight holes that overlook the Atlantic Ocean, including the demanding, 468-yard, par-4 18th: the third of a three-hole finishing stretch that is among the most striking – and most demanding of precise ball-striking – on the Champions Tour.
By the time players reach that 18th hole, they’ve navigated the short – yet tricky – par-4 16th, a hole that Dave Stockton said “nobody’s really comfortable with off the tee because of the position of the dogleg that gets in players’ heads.
“If you get it too good, you are going to drive it right through the fairway,” Stockton said.
“You can play up as much as you want, but that’s probably as tricky as any of them get,” Dana Quigley said. ”But it doesn’t have to be tricky if you don’t want to play it that way, so it gives you opportunities to take a chance when you want to.”
After that, comes the par-3 17th that features a ridge in the middle of a sloping green, making it difficult to get shots close to the pin.
“Of the three holes, it’s probably the easiest to get on the green and I mean that’s not saying a whole lot, because it’s hard as well,” Stockton said.
“On 17, that wind is just a bear, because you’re coming off an elevated tee to an elevated green with a tremendous cross-wind. It’s a hard little thing to hit,” Fuzzy Zoeller said.
Besides the omnipresent wind, which every player mentioned as one of the chief factors in successfully navigating the Ocean Course, it features the Nicklausian mix of dogleg-rights and dogleg-lefts, reachable, yet exacting, par-5s and a steady mix of uphill and downhill holes. That combination means to a man, the players maintain that the winner will be the player who can work his shots not only left and right, but up and down.
“You’ve got to drive the ball very, very well. You’ve got to drive it under the wind and you’ve got to control your approach shots to the green because the wind can pick it up and throw it anywhere,” Peter Jacobsen said.
“I think it rewards the best ball-striker there for the week. It’s not a wedge golf course where you hit drive and you’ve got a lot of short irons in,” Funk said. “You’re going to hit a lot of shots depending on the wind and a lot of holes are going to play totally different from one day to the next based on the wind.”
At last year’s inaugural Ginn Championship, the Ocean Course played to a stroke average more than a half-shot over par (72.517), making it the ninth most difficult course on the Champions Tour in 2007. When the wind kicked up during Sunday’s final round, that stroke average climbed to 73.038 – the seventh-hardest on the circuit.
“It’s just real honest-to-goodness, good, hard golf,” Quigley said. “You’ve got to hit the ball solidly. You don’t necessarily have to hit it long, but you have to hit it solidly and if the guys out there aren’t hitting it solidly, the course will eat you up and the scores will go high.”
Even then, the players will return to a course that may beat them up because above all, the Ocean Course is as beautiful and well-maintained as it is exacting.
“It beat me up last year pretty good. I’m anxious to get back and try to get some revenge on it,” reigning Champions Tour Player of the Year Jay Haas said. “Most of all, the players look at the golf course No. 1. If it’s a good golf course, they’re going to come back, and the Ocean Course is. The condition of it is outstanding.”
The Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach is the first of Ginn’s four Champions, PGA TOUR and LPGA events on the 2008 professional golf calendar. It also occupies a key spot on the Florida Swing, which is always one of the most competitive stretches of golf during the season
It returns to Golf Channel with one of the largest purses on the Champions Tour – $2.5 million with a $375,000 winner’s check.
Purchasing tickets or getting involved as a volunteer is the best way to see Haas, Player, Stockton and the rest of these golfing legends up close. For ticket, volunteer, sponsorship and hospitality information, please contact the tournament office at (386) 246-6700.
About Ginn Resorts
Ginn Resorts is a privately-held resort development and management firm specializing exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities. The firm owns and operates communities across the United States and the Caribbean. Headquartered in Celebration, Fla., the firm’s principals have more than three decades of experience in creating large-scale, master-planned resorts and recreation-oriented communities. For more information, visit www.ginnresorts.com or call (321) 939-4700.
About Ginn Hammock Beach Resort
Ginn Hammock Beach Resort is a world class destination resort and private club on the Florida Palm Coast. With 2.4 miles of spectacular beach front, the 12-story tower of luxury suites features countless amenities including golf courses, a multi-level water and swim pavilion, indoor atrium pool, spa and fitness center, casual and fine dining restaurant, Ocean Bar, Sushi Bar Grand Event Lawn and in-room dining. Hammock Beach Resort is developed, owned and operated by Ginn Resorts of Celebration, Fla., a privately held resort development and management firm specializing in leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities throughout the United States and the Caribbean. For more information, visit www.ginnresorts.com or call (321) 939-4700.