There are golf getaways – and then there’s the “Ultimate Golf Getaway” where you can immerse yourself in not just the game itself – but the history, passion, and personalities that make this one of the greatest sports on Earth. The latter is exactly what people will find when they visit the World Golf Village, just outside of Saint Augustine, Florida. This is a fantastic year-round destination and the resort is also home to the World Golf Hall of Fame, and offers the only course ever developed in collaboration between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
As you stroll through the hall of fame, guests can view memorabilia ranging from early club and ball designs, to Eisenhower’s golf cart, and even take a turn at putting on a re-creation of a green from St. Andrews using replicas of 1800’s era clubs.
While the museum contains an extensive collection of golf memorabilia, it’s ultimately the players that have shaped this sport. It’s arguable that perhaps the greatest part of the World Golf Hall of Fame is at the end of the exhibit area, where guests have the chance to explore the lockers from each of the players inducted into the hall since the first class in 1974.
Each member, including Arnold Palmer, was invited to fill a locker with items important to them and their game. While some are empty except one personal item such as a bible, Palmer’s locker includes a commemorative Ryder Cup captain’s bag, a pair of his shoes worn in competition during the 1970’s and a set of custom-made Callaway clubs made to Palmer’s personal specifications.
Some of the other highlights found here include a fantastic tribute to Bob Hope and a golf simulator where guests experience some of the world greatest courses including the Old Course at St. Andrews, Firestone Country Club and The Plantation Course at Kapalua. For bragging rights back at the office, you can even take a selfie with your name at the top of the Masters leader board and engrave your name on your very own Induction Crystal with image to share on social media.
After exploring the history of golf’s greatest legends it’s time to test your own skill by practicing on the putting green (free with admission) or heading to the “Challenge Hole” located just steps from the exit. Guests who think their game is good enough can step up and hopefully sink their ball in the hole designed to evoke the feeling of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, complete with a 132-yard island green. This is a closest-to-the-pin challenge and the person with the winning distance each month will receive a commemorative brick. Even if you aren’t the winner, this is a great way to earn bragging rights among your buddies.
After lunch at Caddy Shack – a Bill Murray-owned sports bar located across the lake from the museum, it’s time to visit the King & Bear. This is the only golf course ever developed as a collaboration between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Experienced golfers will notice elements of both styles come together on a course that is challenging but fun for all skill levels.
Measuring 7,279 yards from the back tees, the layout puts an emphasis on strong drives – no surprise since both men were known for their powerful style of play. Fans of Jack “Golden Bear” Nicklaus will see his influence in the inviting fairways and Arnold “The King” Palmer’s fast greens. Additionally, some holes designed by Nicklaus feature fairway bunkers whereas Palmer’s include “beach style” ones, reflecting each of their signature styles.
The pair opened the course on November 15, 2000 and a year later played each other on the course as part of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf series. During that matchup, Palmer shot 1-under 71 while Nicklaus shot a 75.
A visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame really makes one think about the game of gold and how you people can be teammates, collaborators, and competitors depending on the situation but the common thread is always a love for the game.
For more information about the World Golf Hall of Fame, please visit http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org, and for more information about the King & Bear Course, please visit http://www.golfwgv.com/king-and-bear.