Foster’s Fairway: Ponte Vedra Inn and Club’s Ocean Course

If you are considering a golf vacation in Northeast Florida, take a look at the beauty and challenge of Ponte Vedra Inn and Club's The Ocean Course.

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.


Northeast Florida has a number of beautiful seaside resorts and hotels perfect for a family vacation or a golf getaway, but one stay you have to consider is at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.  With over 250 rooms and suites, the Resort has all of the amenities desired for a relaxing vacation by the beach, not the least of which are one of the First Coast’s signature golf courses, the Ocean.

Designed by architect Herbert Strong, the Ocean Course has maintained a challenging character over the course of its 86 year history.  Named as one of the “four hardest courses in America” in 1938, and selected as the Ryder Cup venue in 1939, the course has been and continues to be a true golf destination that challenges players.

The Ocean CourseAs with any course and venue, there are some keys you want to keep in mind if you’re out playing the course for the first time.  Eight-time club champion, Ken Moody, has a couple of those keys that can aide a first time player of the course. “The Ocean course has two main defenses, the wind and the greens.  [With] fairly wide open fairways, you can hit the ball in a lot of different places and still have a shot at the greens.”

Moody also notes that it is the layout of the holes in particular that make playing the course in the wind a challenge.  With seven of the eighteen holes on the course running from south to north, including the 221 yard par-3 fifth, and the 559 yard par-5 thirteenth, winds that typically blow from the northeast can make long holes even more difficult and challenging.

Wind can also play a significant factor on the signature par-3 sixteenth as well.  Playing only 131 yards from the back tees, the hole might not seem very daunting at first glance, but the three tiered green, wind, and intelligently placed bunkers can make the short par three a challenge.  For example, with a front pin location and a breeze coming directly off of the ocean, a ball flown to the center of the green with too much spin can actually find itself in the water hazard that fronts the hole.

One of the other features that characterize the course is the bunkers.  “All of the bunkers are very well positioned,” said Moody. And while the score cards do have yardages for all of the bunkers, “a range finder is definitely beneficial for getting the distances.”  With the large fairway bunkers on holes three and seventeen, it’s important to know how far you need to hit the ball and the best place to position your drive to give you a clear shot at the green.

For Moody, the par-4 fourth “is one of the hardest par-4s in the area.”  While the hole plays 467 yards from the back tee, the narrowing dogleg fairway lined by water hazards on either side make driver a risky play off the tee.  “I hit anywhere from a three wood to a four hybrid off the tee.  The perfect tee shot leave you about 150 yards to the green, but I typically have around 170-200 yards.”  From there, you’ve got a longer iron into a green that can challenge you further depending on the hole location.

As Bobby Jones said in 1942, the Ocean Course “is a course to challenge professionals.”  While holding true today, you certainly don’t have to be a professional to enjoy this golf course.