Perhaps no other sport is as attached to its history as is golf. The World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, is the place where this past comes to life. Every real fan of the grand old game should make this pilgrimage at least once, and there is enough going on here for a short vacation. The place to stay is the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort, which overlooks the Slammer and Squire Championship Golf Couse and is just a few steps from the Hall of Fame.
The Renaissance here is the best place to stay at World Golf Village. Our room on the 8th floor offered a commanding view of the Slammer and Squire course, which sits right behind the Hall of Fame itself. We even had a large balcony to enjoy the balmy Florida evenings. The room itself was very comfortable with down pillows and bedding and an oversized luxurious bathroom. Renaissance is at the top end of what Marriott has to offer, and the upgrades make for a pleasant stay. The atrium-style design allows for interior views of the waterscapes surrounding the lobby restaurants.
The hotel has a large, comfortable pool area out back for those not playing golf or perhaps some after-round lounging. The fitness center is state of the art and will satisfy the hardiest amongst us. Visit WorldGolfRenaissance.com for complete details.
Once you arrive at the Renaissance, you will not need your car to see and enjoy all that the World Golf Village has to offer. The golf is exceptional with two 18-hole championship layouts. Each nine was designed by one of the legends of golf. Right behind the hotel is the Slammer and Squire, a collaboration of Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. The King and Bear Course was designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Both of these layouts are first class and would be worthy of a visit on their own. I would suggest an early tee time followed by lunch and then a visit to the Hall of Fame.
World Golf Hall of Fame
Everything you love about golf is on display at this elegant shrine to the game. As for me, I really like the history of Championship Golf. This is re-created here by a combination of visual, audio, and interactive displays. Larry Mize chipping in to beat Greg Norman, Tom Watson holing the chip to beat Jack Nicklaus, or any other famous moment will be at your fingertips. That along with the most impressive collection of artifacts you will ever see. They trace golf equipment from its earliest stages to the modern era. When you see what Bobby Jones was using, you will have a whole new respect for his talent.
On your way in or out of the Hall of Fame, make sure you try the Par Three Challenge. They actually have a 150-yard par three that you can try with a special bonus for anyone lucky enough to make an ace.
One of my all-time favorite movies is Caddyshack. Heck, I even enjoy the documentary they made about the filming of the movie. You might be in the same camp and will be delighted to know that the Murray Brothers have their own restaurant, appropriately called Caddyshack and filled with movie memorabilia. The restaurant is just steps from the Renaissance and the World Golf Hall of Fame.
General Manager Andy Murray, Bill’s brother, has gone out of his way to provide a fun atmosphere for all ages, and the food is special. We dined on grouper, ribs, and gourmet salads, all of which were expertly prepared. Andy gave us a lot of interesting insights into his upbringing in a traditional Catholic family of nine children and how the brothers all caddied at the local country club. These experiences led to brother Brian Doyle Murray writing the classic golf comedy.
The family gets together here often, especially at their annual golf tournament during which the Caddyshack restaurant hosts 3,000 guests. For more information visit MurrayBrosCaddyshack.com.
The World Golf Village is less than an hour away from Jacksonville International Airport and just under two hours from Orlando. United, Delta, and Southwest all offer good connections from LAX. This might be a good side trip for an Orlando Theme Park visit or if you were headed to the barrier islands to the north.