Northern Florida prime golf season coming up on Amelia Island
With 117 holes designed into neat layouts by Dye, Fazio, McCumber and Littler, along with places to stay where golfers feel at home and others hardly know the game exists because there are other things to do like kayaking and beachcombing, Amelia Island off the north coast of Florida is just heading into peak season.
Clearly it’s been a mild winter for those of us in the north. We’ve hardly had to shovel and when the snow did come, if we just walked back inside and ignored it, like a teenager being asked to take out the garbage, it soon disappeared. Our golf course – the siren on the rock – entices, tempts. Soon we think.
But we’re all fired up now. So where is the ideal place to go for good golf, warm temperatures and fun? Think Amelia Island. Here the temperatures are just heating up in the “cooler” part of Florida. For golfers, the weather couldn’t be better.
At the high end of the food chain, the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island is good for those looking for impeccable service and top-notch facilities. The Golf Club of Amelia Island is within walking distance of the front entrance and there is a world-class spa and food so good, you won’t want to leave “the campus.” Whether you’re up for beef sliders or Florida snapper, you simply can’t find a tastier, better presented meal.
Their theme-restaurant, Salt, celebrates more varieties of salt than golfers have excuses. You have Dead Sea salt, Mediterranean black garlic salt, Adriatic citrus salt and more than 50 others. Like fine wines, each variety of salt is paired with specific dishes and comes with an explanation from your wait server or “Salt Sommelier.”
After dinner, what could be more decadent then heading to the beach and sitting around a roaring fire roasting homemade marshmallows mushed with fine Belgian chocolate between gourmet graham crackers? Ritz has brought s’mores to a new level for sure.
But that’s what the Ritz-Carlton is all about. The Spa too celebrates salt. In their Surrender Experiences, you get a massage, facial, scrub or wrap including a foot scrub with house-made infused salts. And talk about service.
On guy I know wanted to cut his massage short so he could go back to his room and watch his Giants in a playoff game. The therapist had a better solution and put him in the couples massage room where there was a flat screen tv so he could tune into the game.
The Golf Club is private, but resort guests have playing privileges at this Gene Littler and Mark McCumber-designed track. It may be but 6,692 yards but by no means is it a slacker. There are enough challenges starting with water coming into play on 13 holes for even heavy hitters like the second hole, a par 5 dogleg left with trees at the turn and water all along the left. The 18th hole is likewise tough with a carry over water from the tee.
The Eight Burger Bar & Sports Lounge is a popular gathering place after golf with plenty of tv sports channels and a menu including a “Build your own Burger” and a selection of six sliders. And be sure to order the house-made Parmesan chips. They are simply irresistible.
Other facilities include a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, four restaurants, beach, and a Ritz Kids program.
Nearby take a trolley tour of historic Fernandina Beach, the shrimping capital of the U.S. where the oldest grave dates back to 1817 and Lady’s Street in the 1800s was once home to 49 brothels said to make New Orleans look like a Baptist church. Stop at Cafe Karibo for lunch and order a rum punch at The Palace Saloon, a smoky carry-back to the “old days.”
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