Time to anoint Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast one of the top golf resorts in Florida

By Jason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

PALM COAST, Fla. -- Hammock Beach Resort rises majestically along the Florida coast.

Hammock Beach Resort
Hammock Beach Resort stretches out along the northeast Florida coast.
Hammock Beach ResortHammock Beach Resort - Conservatory golf course - 9thHammock Beach Resort - Ocean GC - hole 15
If you go

It serves as a beacon, attracting golfers, families and anybody else looking for a luxurious vacation in a region not known for delivering one.

The resort sits less than an hour north of Daytona Beach, sandwiched between the tourist destinations of St. Augustine and Orlando.

"It is gorgeous," said Ira Gold, a Boston-area resident who was sitting on a comfy couch in the grand lobby, enjoying coffee and the morning paper. "It is quite a resort. We just stumbled upon it. It's a nice place, like a diamond in the rough. When you drive here, you would never expect this here."

Golf Digest rated the resort No. 71 among its top 75 golf resorts in North America in 2011. Salamander Hotels & Resorts took over management of the resort that year, creating synergy between Hammock Beach, Reunion Resort in Orlando and Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club near Tampa, calling the trio the "Grand Golf Resorts of Florida."

A new Legends of Golf Trail features a golf package where avid golfers can play all nine courses at the three resorts, which are roughly 90 miles from one another. Hammock Beach might have the fewest number of golf courses of these great sister properties, but it does boast one major advantage, the Atlantic Ocean out its back door.

Hammock Beach Resort

Guests can choose from different types of accommodations. Most stay in the 12-story tower's ocean-view luxury suites. The one- and two-bedroom suites are well appointed with great balconies and bathrooms.

The more spacious three- and four-bedrooms suites with private bedrooms, living and dining areas, fully equipped kitchens and washer/dryers are perfect for larger families and parties. There's an intimate, 20-room lodge closer to the beach, overlooking the 18th green of the Ocean Course.

The 91,000-square-foot water pavilion remains a hit with families, especially the lazy river. There are multiple indoor and outdoor pools with plenty of space for all ages. And who can resist a walk along the beach? There are also tennis courts, bicycle rentals and a nine-hole putting course to keep people entertained.

Grownups looking for fun can find it within The Spa at Hammock Beach. A marina and Sundancer cruises provide access to the water.

The Ocean Bar & Grille serves up a casual setting during the day, while the Loggerheads Lounge becomes the hangout of choice after dark. Fine dining is found at the Atlantic Grill, located in the Lodge. Seafood, Italian and prime cuts of meat are prepared by the chefs of Definos.

The golf courses at Hammock Beach Resort

Name another resort with one course that has hosted a PGA Tour event and another that has hosted the Champions Tour. There aren't many besides Hammock Beach Resort. Pebble Beach Resort (with Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill) remains the most well known golf resort to have such a tournament-tested 1-2 punch.

It's certainly a stirring debate about which is the better course at Hammock Beach Resort. The Ocean Course boasts something no other Florida course can -- six holes of Jack Nicklaus golf along the breezy coast, including the murderous four-hole closing stretch called the "Bear Claw." It took its toll on the seniors who played in the Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach, a Champions Tour event played on the course in 2007-08.

The Conservatory Course by Tom Watson is every bit as good. At 7,776 yards, The Conservatory might be the longest course in Florida. Ponds, wetlands, and native scrub trees and brush converge upon a serene environment. Tricky greens, ominous bunkers and treacherous up-and-downs create the theater. Ryan Palmer won the Ginn sur Mer Classic there in 2008.

Kevin Helm, the executive director of the Michigan PGA Section, said he got such positive feedback from amateurs and golf pros who participated in a pro-am in January at the resort that the group will likely return next year.

"It has a little bit of everything," he said. "It is a perfect family place. People appreciated the good golf."

Jason Scott DeeganJason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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