By David Theoret
Golfers traveling to the Sunshine State certainly have a lot of choices when it comes to playing golf. But there’s more to it than just selecting a course to play at, you need to choose a destination.
I believe that the St. Augustine area is one of the most overlooked golf destinations in the state. Not only is it home to the World Golf Hall of Fame and World Golf Village with two championship layouts on site, but there are also several other great courses in the area.
Like most Florida cities, St. Augustine is full of communities, many with golf as an amenity. One such community is St Johns, home to St. Johns Golf & Country Club. The course and community are conveniently located on CR210, a short distance from 95. The country club is the centerpiece of the community and features an 18-hole Clyde Johnston-designed course that offers just the right amount of challenge for novice and accomplished golfers alike. The quality of the golf course and the service offered by the staff help to make it an exceptional value. St. Johns has been nationally ranked by the National Golf Foundation for its customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Golfers have five sets of tees to choose from with yardages that range from 5,202 (ladies) to 7,183 yards (Gold). I found the White Tees (6,273) presented a good test and still let me leave with a little dignity. The course is meticulously carved from a pine forest and is certified as a Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International. SJCC is committed to protecting the local environment, conserving natural resources, and providing wildlife habitats. The major variable out here is the wind, which can make the course play anywhere from a lot easier to nearly impossible. Water comes into play on about 14 holes as well, so bring a few extra balls. Regardless of how your game is going, take a minute to look around and take in the natural beauty of the golf course.
St Johns Golf and Country Club has several memorable and challenging holes. On the 2nd, a 493-yard par 5, Johnson does a great job of putting sand in the landing area on the right side which most golfers tend to favor. Just past the bunker, water comes into play, and continues all the way to the green. There’s a lot of mounding on the left side which can lead to some interesting lies. The well-undulated green is protected by sand on the left and a few grass bunkers.
Number 6 is an interesting 365-yard par 4 and is the course’s #1 handicap. There’s water on both sides of the fairway in the landing area and a deep, natural furrow that crosses the fairway just past the tree line. Bunkers dot the right side of the fairway on your approach shot and the green is small and falls off in the back. Don’t be long; getting up and down is tricky from back there.
The 9th hole features an intimidating tee shot with water running down the left and sand on the right. From the White tees, the hole plays 389 yards and is a slight dogleg right. Where the water on the left side stops, sand traps begin. There are about 12 bunkers on this hole however, some are only for aesthetics. The green is long and large with some good undulation to it. Par is a great way to end this nine!
Number 12 is a 507-yard par 5 that is going to be a 3-shotter for most golfers. There are trees all down the right side and a lot of players will try and favor the left. But beware of the mounding on the left as well as two deep grass bunkers which can hinder your success! Two large bunkers guard the right side of the green as does a pond, making a right pin placement extremely dicey!
St. Johns saves one of the best holes for last. Number 18 is a 401-yard par 4 that plays from an island tee box to a split fairway with a trio of bunkers in the middle of the landing area. There are risks to taking either side of the fairway. On the left is water that runs to, and in front of, the green. On the right is a large bunker on the edge of the fairway in the landing area. Playing from the left side of the fairway will require an approach shot over water where the right side will not. A bulkhead runs along the front and left side of the green, which is heavily bunkered. Another hole where par is an accomplishment.
St. Johns has some great practice facilities as well, including a full-length driving range, a short game area, and large practice putting green. Several of the players I spoke with were there just for the practice facilities.
The Golf Academy at St. Johns can help dramatically improve your game. Director of Instruction Mo Gesualdi and her staff of PGA professionals can help improve every facet of your game. Coach Mo also offers TPI Body Assessment which can help determine your range of motion and how it impacts your golf swing. The Golf Academy offers both private and group lessons as well as clinics. They also offer a comprehensive Junior golf program and have developed a series of clinics for junior golfers of all levels.
When hunger gets the best of you before or after your round, The Bridge offers its guests delicious cuisine sourced from locally inspired flavors and ingredients. Food is available from a Lunch Menu during the day and a Dinner Menu in the evenings. There is also a Bar Menu and Happy Hour Menu on the website. The food is delicious, whether it’s the soups, salads, and handheld sandwiches at lunch (try the fish tacos) or the Jerk Red Snapper or Shrimp and Grits at dinner. It’s so good that many non-golfers frequent the restaurant. This newly renovated restaurant is the perfect, close-to-home spot for gathering with friends and family.
Of course, the most economical way to enjoy all that St. Johns Country Club has to offer is to become a Member. As a Member, you’ll be entitled to unlimited greens fees and preferred guest rates; 50% off on range balls and 20% off on Merchandise, beverages, and alcohol, complimentary clinics, and the ability to book tee times two weeks in advance. Complete details about full, weekday, and Junior golf memberships are available on their website.
If a membership isn’t in the cards, there are several ways to save a few bucks on your next round here. The first is to book it online where you’ll find the lowest rates. Walk-ins and phone-ins pay a little more and it’s a service that’s available to both members and the public.
If you’re a regular player at St. Johns Golf & Country Club you may want to join Troon Rewards. It’s free to join and will give you status at Troon Facilities worldwide and help you start earning free rounds of golf as well as discounts on merchandise and golf fees. As a new Troon Rewards member, you will receive a FREE subscription to Troon Magazine and receive special offers, access to exclusive events, and Callaway® promotions.
Another way to save money at any Troon-managed facility is The Troon Card; it’s the absolute best way to play Troon’s top courses at the best rates. With your TwoSome or FourSome Troon Card, you can reserve tee times within three days of your desired date of play and enjoy savings of up to 50% off golf fees. Other benefits include the Best Rate Guarantee, “2 for 1” golf offers, complimentary clinics, monthly special offers, Experience Packages and so much more!
This is just a basic outline of how great the golf course is and what you can expect on your next visit to St. Johns County Club. To book your next round visit them at www.stjohnsgolf.com.