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Foster’s Fairway: Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach

Local golfer Dylan Foster provides the inside scoop on area greens. In his blog, Foster uncovers the treasures that make golfing on the First Coast a pleasure—intricate doglegs, challenging water hazards and refreshing drink specials on the 19th hole.

Local golfer Dylan Foster provides the inside scoop on area greens. In his blog, Foster uncovers the treasures that make golfing on the First Coast a pleasure—intricate doglegs, challenging water hazards and refreshing drink specials on the 19th hole. 

Rain, wind and a high of 54 degrees might not seem like ideal weather in normally sunny Northeast Florida, especially if you’ve got an afternoon round of golf in mind.  But for the British-links-inspired Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach, this type of weather couldn’t be more appropriate.  Not to say you wouldn’t want it to be sunny and 75, but the combination of the course and the weather seems to transport you from Florida’s First Coast to a seaside town in Scotland. 

Designed by Tom Watson, the course features high-faced pot bunkers, undulating greens and fescue mounds that culminate in a thoroughly enjoyable links experience that is difficult to find on other courses.  As Watson says, “My goals as a designer are many fold. The two most important criteria are beauty and playability.” This epitomizes the Conservatory Course.  With each hole just as beautiful as it is demanding, it’s almost impossible to put one above the other.  Whether it’s the long par-5 fourth or the daunting par-4 14th, every hole offers a unique challenge to golfers of all skill sets.

One of the most enjoyable features of the course has to be the number of different shots you can play.  With rolling fairways running up to almost every green, the Conservatory Crouse invites the low-flying bump-and-run shots common with links courses, a change of pace from many of the other championship style golf courses in the area.  What’s more, each cart comes equipped with a digital display and range finder that gives you the layout of each hole and some advice about how to best attack it—a great tool whether you’re playing the course for the first time or fifteenth time.

For example, as you approach the tee of the par-4 15th, a short 377-yard dogleg, you’re faced with a decision.  Depending on how far you can drive the ball, you can cut the corner on the dogleg, or even go right at the flag.  A landing area in front of the green is enough to tempt the longer hitters to go for it, though the water hazard down the right side of the hole certainly makes you think twice.  Ultimately though, whether you like to play it safe or pull out all the stops, neither the hole nor the golf course will disappoint.  

With its links design, beautiful holes and resort-style clubhouse, even a day where the weather might seem less than ideal is going to result in a great round of golf. The trip down from Jacksonville might seem like a bit of a trek, but it is absolutely worth it to a chance to play one of the gems of Northeast Florida.