The venerable TPC Sawgrass, home to perhaps the most famous par 3 in the world, is among seven Florida golf resorts to make the 2010 list of the Readers' Choice Rankings: The Top 50 Resort Courses among the readers of Golf Digest and Golf World magazines.
TPC Sawgrass, located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., ranked ninth on the list. Florida ranked second among U.S. states, only behind Hawaii, which placed eight resorts on the list.
Other Florida golf resorts on the list were: ChampionsGate Golf Club near Orlando (17), World Golf Village in St. Augustine (20), PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens (34), World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville (40), Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando (44) and Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando (47).
The Readers' Choice Awards are based on reader input that was gathered by Golf Digest Publication Research Resource Center through an online poll. Readers rated each course or resort in a number of different categories.
The TPC Sawgrass earned its highest scores in the prestige and quality of courses categories, which is no surprise. The resort's TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, of course, is home to the annual Players' Championship on the PGA Tour. Some consider the event golf's fifth major. Each year the drama comes to a crescendo on Dye's famous par-3 17th, which is known for its island green and the watery graveyard of golf balls that surround it.
A couple of years ago, the Stadium Course, as well as the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa, underwent a massive renovation. Among the improvements, the course got new grasses, new greens, subsurface drainage and irrigation under the greens, and extensive fairway renovations. Course renovations were also done on the TPC Sawgrass Valley Course.
The resort and golf facility also got a new, magnificent, 77,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style clubhouse as well as a new golf academy. And $16 million was spent at the nearby Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa on guest room renovation.
ChampionsGate offers two terrific Greg Norman-designed golf courses - the International course and the National course - as well as the Omni Orlando Resort, which has 720 rooms and suites surrounded by 1,200 acres of natural wetlands. It's also home of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. The resort also offers 70,000 square feet of meeting space, a full-service European-style spa, two heated outdoor pools and restaurants.
The Renaissance Resort at the 6,300-acre World Golf Village recently underwent a $10 million renovation, which included updating guest rooms, meeting rooms, the fitness center, and its restaurant and bar, which are now called 500 South, An American Grill. World Golf Village is basically a town unto itself with lodging, shopping, eateries, a museum, a golf academy, two golf courses and the World Golf Hall of Fame. The resort's King & Bear course was named for its co-designers, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
PGA National Resort & Spa has five golf courses, including the Champion Course, an early Jack Nicklaus design that has hosted the Ryder Cup Matches, PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and is the current home of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic. The resort property also houses the headquarters of the PGA of America.
World Woods Golf Resort, near Tampa, features two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses - Rolling Oaks and Pine Barrens, the latter of which has been compared to The style of famed Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey.
Bay Hill Club and Lodge is home to the annual Bay Hill Invitational on the PGA Tour and home of its owner, Arnold Palmer. Recent renovations there included a facelift of Bay Hill's Championship Course, which Palmer designed along with Dick Wilson in 1961.
And, finally, the Grand Cypress Resort is a 1,500-acre property that includes 45 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus as well as the 750-room Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Golf Villas and state of the art golf academy. The golf provides everything from classic Florida wetlands on the North-South course to a terrific tribute course to Scottish golf called the New Course. Recent improvements include resort and golf course renovations.
November 13, 2009