The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, re-opened last week after a 13-month restoration project.
The ceremonial event, attended by golf, tourism and elected officials, featured a first tee foursome consisting of Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl; Brad Hauer, the resort’s director of golf; and Paul Propis, vice president of the resort’s board of governors and golf committee chairman.
The Palm Coast resort is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts — the luxury hotel company founded by Sheila Johnson — and is part of the Salamander Golf Collection.
Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course has been closed since October 2016 after high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Matthew caused damage across the majority of its holes. The resort’s owners and Salamander took a long-term view regarding conditioning and opted to conduct a complete course restoration in conjunction with Nicklaus Design.
Staying true to Nicklaus’ design, the Ocean Course restoration has included the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, as well as the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green complex.
High winds and storm surge caused by Hurricane Irma tested the new salt-tolerant grass, but resort spokespeople said the turf stood up well, and the restoration project completion was only pushed back a few weeks.
“Today, the Ocean Course reclaims its position as one of the finest golf courses in the country,” said Salamander Founder & CEO Sheila Johnson, who also serves as an executive committee member of the United States Golf Association. “The location is unique, the views are exquisite and the conditioning now matches the spectacular locale. We thank Lubert-Adler, the resort’s owners, for its commitment to the game of golf, and are honored that the Ocean Course rejoins the rotation within our Salamander Golf Collection.”
In addition to the Ocean Course, Salamander re-opened its north course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa Bay on Nov. 3 – just 24 hours later. The course, designed by Larry Packard, had been closed for four months due to renovation efforts.
As one of only a handful of courses in the Southeast U.S. to feature Platinum Paspalum, the Ocean Course’s new surface features thick, short grass blades. Tolerant of all seasons, the grass is able to withstand seasonal temperature changes, yet maintain a healthy year-round look.
"By replacing Bermuda grass with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, we now offer golfers one of the purest surfaces in the game,” said Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort. “And, in addition to improved playing conditions for golfers of all levels, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are simply incredible.”
The Ocean Course originally opened in April 2000. While the integrity of the original design never changed throughout the restoration process. New forward tees have been added to each hole, allowing the par 72 course to play as short as 4,100 yards, but retain a challenging overall length of 7,201 yards from its back tees.
Hammock Beach's acclaimed Conservatory Course accommodated guests and members while the Ocean Course was closed for renovation.
The Ocean Course restoration project followed a number of previous enhancements at Hammock Beach Resort, which recently renovated its grand lobby, refurbished all 15,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event spaces and re-opened its signature restaurant: The Atlantic Grille.
In mid-November, the resort will launch its boutique accommodation option: The Lodge at Hammock Beach, which will offer an accommodation option overlooking the Ocean Course. It will feature 20 guest rooms, direct access to the beach and a VIP "Lodge Experience" service with amenities and a daily breakfast. The Atlantic Grille, which features an ocean view, is serving “Shore to Table” cuisine, highlighting local, freshly caught seafood. The restaurant is led by executive chef Kevin Luque.
Hammock Beach Resort is located just south of historic St. Augustine at 200 Ocean Crest Drive in Palm Coast; golf and social membership options are available. For more information, call Hammock Beach Resort at (866) 841-0287 or visit www.hammockbeach.com.