The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort
Florida's Ocean Course
By David Theoret
There's something special about playing on the brink of the Atlantic Ocean, or any ocean for that matter. The air seems fresher, the skies seem brighter and the golf ball just seems to fly a little further. If you ever get a chance to play such a course, consider yourself lucky.
I recently had the opportunity to play a Jack Nicklaus design: The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL. The Ocean Course is truly Florida's Ocean Course, with six holes that play alongside or towards the Atlantic Ocean. The last four holes present a magnificent finale and have been called "The Bear Claw" as they play along the sweeping coastline.
The accolades that have been lauded on the course are numerous and include #10 on Golfweek's 2013 Best Courses You Can Play in Florida and #60 on Golf Digest's 2006 list of Top 75 Resorts.
The range balls and practice green are complimentary, and a short game area with practice bunkers plus chipping and pitching greens are available for use during golf lessons.
The clubhouse and its amenities are truly Florida and have a very relaxed feel. The pro shop at The Ocean Course features logoed golf attire from all of the big name manufacturers as well as some up and coming apparel companies.
The Ocean Course has 5 sets of tee boxes, making the course playable for golfers of all levels. From the back tees, the Ocean Course plays 7,201 yards with a course rating of 77 and a slope of 147. The Blue Tees at 6,371 yards will give the majority of golfers all they can handle. In order to get the most enjoyment out of your round, it is imperative to choose the right set of tees. When in doubt, do what Jack Nicklaus recommends: Tee It Forward.
Water only comes into play on a handful of holes and for the most part is more of a visual attraction. Course conditioning is some of the best I have seen in Florida as are the greens which roll true and fast.
Memorable Holes - (All Yardage is From the Blue Tees)
Number 1: Par 4, 333 yards. An opening hole that gives you an idea of what is yet to come. Keep your tee shot left of the bunkers that guard the right side. Your approach shot is to an elevated green guarded by a bunker on the left and a grassy area on the right.
Number 2: Par 5, 481 yards. This scenic par 5 features water down the left side that can easily come into play on either of your first two shots. As always, the middle of the fairway is the place to be off the tee; the fairway bunkers on the right side can come into play if you try and get greedy. Pot bunkers on the left side of the second landing area are easy to find if you pull your layup and another two bunkers guard the front of this green. The grassy hollow catches any long approach shots.
Number 8: Par 3, 154 yards. This par 3 plays toward the Atlantic Ocean so the wind will definitely be a factor. Choose your club accordingly; it often plays a lot longer than its stated yardage. The green is elevated and avoiding the three deep bunkers on the right side and small pot bunker on the left is critical if you want to make par or better.
Number 9: Par 4, 437 yards. The safe route on this oceanside par 4 hole is down the left side of the fairway, but not too far left or you may find the fairway bunker. If you're a big hitter, carrying the bunker on the right side will leave a much shorter approach into this elevated green. Be wary of the deep bunkers and grass hollows that surround the green and catch wayward approach shots.
Number 15: Par 4, 405 yards. This lengthy, uphill par four is one of the most challenging holes on the back nine and the beginning of The Bear Claw. Avoid the bunkers on the right side off the tee as these nasty little pot bunkers can wreak havoc with a scorecard. There are also two dune elevations that front this elevated green which is set along the Atlantic Ocean.
Number 16: Par 4, 352 yards. A true risk/reward hole; simply choose a line off the tee and trust it. Water guards the left side of the fairway all the way to the green, so it's best to favor the right side. An errant approach shot will definitely test your short game. Par is a good score here.
Number 17: Par 3, 138 yards. Although this is the shorter of the two par threes on the back nine it is by no means an easy par. Hitting at the Atlantic Ocean, the hole plays over water with large bunkers looming short, left and right of this undulating green. It's hard not to let the breathtaking view be a distraction.
Number 18: Par 4, 415 yards. Aim for the left center of the fairway off the tee as a miss to the right will result in a much longer approach shot to a well elevated green. The green is guarded by a deep bunker front left as well as dunes further left. The grass hollows right and behind the green only add to the intrigue and challenge of this superb finishing hole.
Last Word: The Ocean Course is fair and playable for golfers of all skill levels and provides golfers the opportunity to have a fun, relaxing round. The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort is as close to perfect as it gets in Florida; all playing areas - and hazards for that matter - are well manicured and maintained, enhancing your overall golf experience.
Other than the obvious difference in yardage, the back tees have a few different looks in the form of forced carries and risk reward opportunities. No matter which tees you select, the fairways are forgiving. The bunkers on the Ocean Course range from small pot bunkers to large waste bunkers. Most are steep faced and can be penal in nature.
The greens are near perfect and roll fast and smooth. For the most part, they are relatively flat with some slope and undulation. Most are elevated and smaller than you tend to see in Florida; they are also well-guarded.
Scoring well here requires good long iron play as several of the par 4 holes are well in excess of 400 yards. You'll also need to be able to play in the wind because the one sure thing on this course is that it will be blowing - and not necessarily in the same direction the entire round.
The Ocean Course is a private resort course accessible to members, members' guests, and resort guests. Great stay and play packages are available through The Hammock Beach Resort, which not only gets you access to the Ocean Course, but also the Tom Watson designed Conservatory Course. For more information, call Hammock Beach at 866-841-0287 or visit their website at www.HammockBeach.com.
Revised: 11/18/2015 - Article Viewed 18,275 Times - View Golf Course Profile
About: David Theoret
David Theoret has been in the golf and golf travel industry for over 10 years, primarily selling online advertising. For the past seven years, he has also been a golf writer, reviewing golf courses, resorts, destinations, equipment, golf apparel, and training aids - the latter of which never seems to help. David's articles and reviews have been posted on many golf travel and equipment websites.
Growing up in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, it was naturally assumed he would play hockey. Beginning at the age of 3 and continuing into his late 30's, he did just that. However, after one too many pucks to the head, he realized that golf was a lot easier on the body (whoever said hockey players were slow) and took the game up.
After moving to Florida and accepting a position with TravelGolf Media (now part of GolfNow) his love for the game grew exponentially. Most Saturdays you will find him on a course somewhere in Florida or on the practice range reinforcing his bad habits. David plays to a 10 handicap - unless there is money involved in which case it goes considerably higher. He currently resides in Lakeland, FL with his wife Belinda and their two "kids", Madyson and Molly.
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