Scenery or challenge: Golfers can take their pick on Amelia Island Plantation's two golf courses

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Amelia Island Plantation has two golf courses available to resort guests. Which one to play depends on, well, what you're playing for.

Ocean Links Course - Amelia Island Plantation - 6th
The par-3 sixth on the Ocean Links Course at Amelia Island Plantation sits right behind the hotel.
Ocean Links Course - Amelia Island Plantation - 6thAmelia Island Plantation - Ocean Links CourseAmelia Island Plantation - Oak Marsh GCAmelia Island Plantation - Ocean Links golf course
If you go

"We ask people if they're playing for the scenery or the challenge," Head Professional Gary Chambers said.

If you're looking for scenery, you want Ocean Links. It's a great course for the golfer to drag around his or her non-playing partner. Even the non-golfer will enjoy a stroll or cart ride around Ocean Links, with its up-close-and-personal vistas of the wide Atlantic Ocean.

After the third hole, you pop up to No. 4 to be greeted by one of the world's great bodies of water. The hole plays parallel to the ocean, as do Nos. 5 and 6. The course heads inland at that point, only to wind back once again within sight of saltwater toward the end.

It's a strange, interesting little Pete Dye design that got a Bobby Weed makeover six years ago. First of all, it's barely 6,000 yards long and has six par 3s, the result of shuffling three nines, and it can be very tight and nasty. There is rarely any room for error on the par-70 layout; witness the aforementioned No. 4, where you must be wary of the swimming pools in front of the condos to the left.

No. 5 has a tiny green. No. 6 has trouble everywhere you look. The par-5 ninth has an extremely tight fairway. And -- well, you get the picture. Nearly every hole has a narrow fairway, a small green or something else that demands accuracy rather than muscles.

Amelia Island Plantation's Oak Marsh Course, on the other hand, is much longer, a par 72 with your usual array of 3s, 4s and 5s. Not that it's hard on the eyes, with its views of the Intracoastal Waterway (five holes play alongside), just that it's more for players than sightseers.

"This is the course I like to play on," Chambers said.

It features waste areas, better movement in the fairways and some formidable carries. In fact, the yardage book recommends a lot of layups, not that your big hitters will take that advice. No. 18 is nicknamed "Jaws," and unless you wallop your drive you'll be following the yardage book's advice.

Golf at Amelia Island Plantation: The verdict

Amelia Island Plantation's two golf courses give resort guests two very different looks. You can practice your accuracy on the Ocean Links Course or play for power at Oak Marsh. The conditioning at both courses is excellent.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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