Slammer & Squire, King & Bear

The World Golf Village at The World Golf Hall of FameThe recent attention given to the late, great Ray Charles reminds us that there are few, very few, great duets that don’t have to be manufactured with cutting-edge technology. Two of those extremely rare pairings have been brought together when golf virtuosos Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen united under possibly the only circumstances possible, The World Golf Village at . The four charter members of the Hall had the opportunity to embellish their own incredible resumes by leaving something for golfers of generations to come to test themselves against every day, and they do not disappoint.

The “Slammer and Squire” came first. Imagine Bobby Weed, a renowned golf course architect in his own right, taking the consulting input of Snead and Sarazen, winners of 14 major championships between them, and crafting what Slammin’ Sammy hoped would be “a golf course that people would enjoy playing and included the need for some good shot-making?” Like the games of its namesakes, the layout has only ripened since it’s opening in 1998, even better fulfilling their legacy.

The “King and Bear” could have been a battle of not only Hall of Fame resumes, but egos as well.

 But like their “rivalry” on the links and in their design businesses, this one-of-a-kind project became another labor of love. In Nicklaus’ words, “the King and Bear is a wonderful opportunity to bring our friendship together.”  

True architectural aficionados will see characteristics of each legend’s playing and design passions in every hole of the King and Bear. What the two nines share is Nicklaus and Palmer’s love of water (lakes come into play on 16 of the 18 holes), and a desire to feature native coquina rock to edge the lakes and add visual texture to bunkers and waste areas.

WGV Resort - The King and Bear - St. Augustine, FLThe smart player will make his first wise decision before putting a tee in the ground at the first. With yardages between 5,119 up front and 7,279 at the tips, the scorecard recommends which of the five sets of tee boxes best matches your handicap. Heeding that advice might be the best choice you’ll make all round. The second best decision is to dig in to the barrel of chilled apples that’s a tradition at Honours Golf courses, along with customer service personnel visiting from time-to-time on the course to offer cool towels in the summer and unparalleled service 24/7.

As you might expect at courses so tradition-rich as these, the holes are all named, beginning at the King and Bear with a pair of par-4’s, “King’s March” and “Village Plateau”, the first veering right around a lake off the tee, the second sweeping around water and a coquina wall to the left.

The two holes in the middle of the par-3 third and sixth holes are the kind of holes Palmer and Nicklaus made famous as players. The fourth, called “Gambler’s Temptation” is the shortest par-4 on the front side. A booming drive over right-side fairway bunkers can set up a wedge to the green. At the par-5 fifth, “Fader’s Delight”, Palmer wowed the Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf audience by tempting the lake and beach bunker on the right with his drive, getting home in two and dropping a 35-foot eagle putt.

After the meadows-and-loblolly-pine-dominated front side, you’ll make the turn (with another snack from the attentive service staff) onto a back nine featuring the huge shady canopies of 200-year-old oaks.

WGV Resort - The King and Bear - St. Augustine, FLIf you remember the days when only the final four holes were televised, Jack and Arnie bring back a great stretch drive. The 15th is the shortest par-4 on the course, wrapping right around a lake with a rock wall bordering two sides of a peninsular green, leaving a “Stone Reflection” to those who come up short on the approach. The 16th and 17th, “Legends Walk” and “Nature’s Eye” are meaty par-4’s that show the great natural beauty of the area as they wend their way down tight, tree-lined fairways.

Jack and Arnie may have saved their best for last. The long par-5 18th, “Bear’s Claw” is classic risk-reward, reachable cutting across a large waste area on this dogleg left or more safely played around the corner, everything from eagle to “concede” is in play here.

The Slammer and Squire also offers two distinct nines, the front side winding through an old pine forest filled with wetlands, while the more open back nine is easily visible from the World Golf Village, the Hall of Fame itself towering above the 18th green. A bit shorter than the King and the Bear, Slammer and Squire also offers five different tees and a recommendation on the scorecard of which distance best fits your handicap.

Slammer and Squire also sets up much more for the smooth swings and shot-shaping talents of Sarazen and Snead. The holes are a little less stark and unpredictable and the ball can be run-up to more greens here than on the King and Bear. The four toughest holes on the card are the four par-5’s, the easiest four are the par-3’s, with a marvelous collection of diverse par-4’s tying it all together. And befitting men whose legends were stamped with their classic Masters wins, there’s even an Amen Corner at the farthest point from the clubhouse.

World Golf VillageThere you can imagine Sarazen going for the green in two on the par-5 fourth with a lateral hazard in front of the green, turning “Double Trouble” into a double-eagle as he did at Augusta. Or Snead running the ball up to the greens at five and six, the two longest par-4’s on the front side. ccuracy is more important than distance all around this course, especially on the back nine, though the par-5 11th is reachable and the par-4 14th is driveable. The final three holes rival anything anywhere, the longest par-5 on the course, the longest par-4 and a weave-it-between-four-bunkers approach at 18. Conquer that finishing test and you’ll be ready for a trip of your own through the Hall of Fame.

There is always something going on around your rounds at the World Golf Village, too. Besides the Hall of Fame, there’s an 18-hole real grass putting course with flags and tee markers changed daily, a 132-yard island “challenge” hole modeled after the famed 17th at the nearby TPC at Sawgrass with new prizes offered every day. Lessons from the pros at the PGA TOUR Golf Academy, a visit to the PGA TOUR Spa at Laterra and a movie at Hall of Fame’s IMAX theatre can round out a most memorable experience.

The people at Honours Golf want you to feel like you’ve experienced golf’s greatest duets, like the musical ones featuring Sinatra or Ray Charles or the “Unforgettable” Cole’s. A trip around either World Golf Village course is a chance to test your talent and strategy against four of golf’s all-time greats. And enjoy a timeless, classical journey into the past, present and the future of an art form all golfers can appreciate. To make a tee time, please call 904.940.6088

 

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