The Jaguars, kings of Jacksonville, love Queen's Harbour Yacht and Country Club
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Baseball is generally known for producing some pretty good golfers. Something about the swing. Football, on the other hand, isn't really known for its off-season finesse sports. There isn't much call for head-butting on the golf course, except when some jerk behind you hits into your group.
Still, young, athletic millionaires tend to gravitate to the good life when they sign their outrageous contracts, and that includes country club living and its golfing amenities. The NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, the kings of the city and in the playoffs this year, love Queen's Harbour Yacht and Country Club, both the high-class neighborhood and the private golf course.
In fact, 11 Jaguars now live in the gated, exclusive development on the eastern edge of Jacksonville, bordering the Intracoastal Waterway, and most of them hack away on the course when the season isn't underway or they aren't in training camp. They aren't all exactly scratch players.
"Most of them are hacks," said a member who didn't want to give his name. "But, they're all great guys, and besides, they're in good company. There are a lot of hacks out here, like me."
Departed quarterback Mark Brunell was a good golfer but former running back James Stewart may be the best of the lot now. Then again, he's retired and has plenty of time to work on his swing. Quarterback Byron Leftwich, currently injured, is a frequent player, as is wide receiver Jimmy Smith, who just moved past Irving Fryar into seventh on the NFL's all-time receiving list. Linebacker Kevin Hardy also likes to tee it up at Queen's Harbour.
It's a good place for young millionaires: Aside from the golf course, there's a marina and a lot of the waterfront homes have docks decorated with million-dollar boats. Queen's Harbour has a fresh-water harbor with a lock that opens onto the salty Intracoastal Waterway, the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Queen's Harbour Yacht and Country Club golf course itself winds through the development, so the Jaguars can admire their own homes and those of their teammates. The course the Jaguars like to play is a shade more than 7,000 yards from the back tees, and favors the long hitters; the landing areas open up when played from the back tees. It also has quite a bit of water, with the waterway and the surrounding marsh coming into play often.
"It's a course you can't be lazy on," said Head Professional Jack Aschenbach. "You always have to pay attention. There's not a place you can spray it and recover from easily."
Queen's Harbour was designed by Mark McCumber, a local boy who's done several area courses. It's a pretty good test from the back tees, with a slope rating of 138, and mid-handicappers should like it from the whites or even the golds. It's better from the back, or gold tees, because of the several forced carries that give the course some wallop.
Queen's Harbour Yacht and Country Club: The verdict
As previously mentioned, the golf course winds through way too many houses to be called pastoral - you ride past backyard swing sets, basketball courts and, in the cast of No. 17, a grouchy dog - but several holes manage to steer clear of the development.
The par-3 seventh hole is almost encompassed by woods, with the marsh off to the left, and No. 9 is a pretty hole, with a long carry over marsh from the gold tees. The 13th, another par-3, has a great view of the waterway and the bridge that spans it. And there are some beautiful, old oak trees around the layout.
No. 14 is an interesting hole, a long, risk-reward par 4 that doglegs left. You can play it safe to the middle of the fairway and have a long iron in, or cut off the lake to the left by hitting over one of those towering oaks.
Queen's Harbour is a private course and only members and their guests are allowed.
Stay and Play
The Hilton Garden Inn is a good, centrally located place in Jacksonville, the largest city, land-wise in the country. It's right off Butler Blvd., which will whisk you to the beaches or downtown.
It has a business center, free, in-room, high-speed Internet access, whirlpool and a fitness center. The rooms have microwaves and small refrigerators.
The Hilton has the Great American Grill restaurant, which serves breakfast, and there are a bunch of restaurants within walking distance, like Seven Bridges Brewery, which provides room service to the hotel - make a point to try the flame-grilled meat loaf.
Also: Don Pablo's Mexican Restaurant, Tony Roma's ribs, Jacksonville Ale House, Jason's Deli, Copeland's and the Gallery Bistro.
December 21, 2005