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5 Reasons to Visit North Florida for Your Next Golf Vacation

When Scottish immigrant and wealthy 34 year old real estate developer, John Hamilton Gillespie settled in Florida in 1886, he was hit with the daunting task of building the dream paradise that Florida was promised it would be to Scottish colonists. The colonists had essentially been swindled by a very early Florida Mortgage and Investment salesman, Selvin Tait, who painted the image of Florida to be a peaceful sunny land flowing with easily farmed soil and lush sand. In reality, Florida was an untamed humid overgrown mess far from the vacation world it is today. What was Gillespie to do? Golf -- Golf saved Florida’s tourism, and that - my friend, is why every great golf vacation begins here.

Gillespie created two hole golf courses that essentially entertained construction workers and developers of Florida’s land while they were building the world the Scots were originally promised. The golf tourism industry began in Sarasota with the Scots, but quickly developed into a primary identifier for the entire State of Florida. As it grew into various regions of Florida, the culture of golf began to greatly diversify depending on the region. A golf vacation on the West coast, for instance, is very different from one on the East coast, and the South is quite different from the North. So whether you are traveling in a boat from Scotland or simply driving down from Georgia on a weekend trip, I want you to know exactly what you can come to expect from a golf vacation here, on Florida’s first coast of golf.

I want to tell you about specific reasons North Florida can set itself apart from other regions of Florida for golf. It’s easy to convince you to come to Florida on a golf vacation: it’s where golf tourism practically originated in United States. North Florida however, is the front line of the golf capital of the United States of America and in honor of Gillespie, one of our golf forefathers, I want you to know exactly what you are getting.

A Warm Breeze on a Quiet Beach

Depending on the time of year you plan to visit, you are most likely going to hit perfect weather at some point during your stay in North Florida. It’s just bound to happen. North Florida sits in a delightful spot that just attracts the ocean breeze and warm sun. Nearly every golf course is near a beach or less than a 30 minute drive and there are even golf resorts that have private beaches. With 221 sunny days a year in Jacksonville, most rainshowers are short and temper the heat a little for a cooler evening. Head to the clubhouse, grab lunch, storms over. When the day is over, head to the beach to cool off, soak in the rays, and spend time with family. Yes, the weather is nice in South Florida too but, when the weather is perfect in South Florida or on the West coast, the beaches are packed to the brim. It’s often too hot to be anywhere else. North Florida however, has a variety of beaches that get far less foot traffic and stay quiet year round.

Top of the Line, Famous Golf Courses

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one thing with you, which golf club would you take?

The environments offered on the private resort golf courses in North Florida ring similar to an island oasis fantasy. There are jungle or rainforest-like maritime forests with Spanish Moss draped along the ancient and massive Live Oaks juxtaposed to a beach bordered by salt marshes. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation claims to be “Florida’s Greenest Resort” and I don’t doubt it. The Omni is nestled in a private forest on Amelia Island and it’s only a short drive from the beautiful Fernandina Beach and sleepy Downtown Amelia. It’s not for tourists. It’s for people who truly want to feel like a local and want to escape. You won’t find a shopping strip with high-end labels, but you will find a bar overlooking the yacht harbor, charter fishing, and a foodie paradise.

Luxury resorts with courses like these dance along the North Florida Coastlines in an elaborate trail of diversity, salt-worn clubhouses, rolling sinks and elevations, marshlands, and distinctly natural Florida greenery.

If all you are looking for is large royal palms and elitism, perhaps you want to head South. North Florida is keeping real. Just Kidding! Well… sort of.

Family-focused, Non Commercialized Entertainment

North Florida’s coastal beaches are a mix of soft powdery and hard-packed sand. You can rent bikes for the beach or even drive along a few of them. The sand is not speckled with jagged seashells or there is very little pollution. It is clean, salt intricately protected by marshes and dunes that are frequently inhabited by endangered sea turtles.

Many courses are available for players of all-ages. They provide kids tees, smaller sized rental clubs and even a separate scorecard and yardage book customized for beginners. There are plenty of to her family activities offered throughout North Florida too, like the Autobahn Indoor Speedway for go karting, paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking, and endless attractions for kids.

Golf-Centered Events

North Florida, and more specifically, Ponte Vedra, is home to hole 17 at TPC Sawgrass (arguably the most famous hole in golf). The Players Championship draws International attention and the course holes wind through lavishly tall and mysterious Australian Pines and live oak barriers, pine needle-clad shady walking trails and variations in the rolling hills that provide so many perfect viewing spaces throughout the fairways.

The event is very family friendly, with an entire section for kids to participate in golf activities or see fun attractions. It’s one of those incredible events that will have you taking selfies with Phil Mickelson, and sharing a beer some of your favorite golf pros. If you are looking to mix it up and meet other enthusiasts like yourself and enjoy a couple country music concerts, you can’t miss this event.

World Golf Hall of Fame

While golf in the United States may have began its journey in Sarasota, the history of golf and a full view of it’s culture can truly be appreciated at World Golf Village, or otherwise The World Golf Hall of Fame. Through interactive exhibits, audio, video, and real life wax figures, you will feel inspired to play at the top of your game. And you can, on the World Golf Village 18-hole course, which is a virtual Disney World for the golf enthusiasts, or even for budding little golf pro’s who want to understand why daddy is so impressed with this historically perfect sport.

If you are looking for a golf vacation that has everything to offer your family and will fully satisfy your golf addiction, North Florida is the way to go. Don’t be like the Scottish colonists of the 1800s. Do your research and get everything you are promised before you travel. If you want great golf, visit North Florida’s First Coast of Golf.