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World Golf Hall of Fame and St. Augustine

World Golf Hall of Fame and St. Augustine

World Golf Hall of Fame and St. Augustine

What to expect when you make that amazing trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla.

If you are a genuine golfer and truly enjoy the history and legendary players of our fine game, you should make time to visit the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla.

The World Golf Hall of Fame is easy to get to, right off Interstate 95 and just a tad north of the oldest, continually occupied city in America.

If you have a few days I’d suggest staying in the old section of St. Augustine and do a little sightseeing. There you will find the beginnings of the town founded by the Spanish in 1565. Actually, Ponce de Leon was scouting near the area for the Fountain of Youth as early as 1513. St. Augustine was the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years before the British, then the Spanish again, and finally the Americans took over the city.

A fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, originally built in 1672 still stands guard overlooking the Matanzas Bay. The Bridge of Lions, which leads from the mainland of old St. Augustine out to Anastasia Island and the beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, has a couple of tall mast old sailing ships there for your viewing.

In town you’ll find the Lightner Museum that is in the old Alcazar Hotel that Henry Flagler built in 1880. The magnificently detailed and handsome Alcazar was where the elite met each winter to escape the cold and enjoy the soft breezes of Florida. You’ll be able to see an eclectic collection of artifacts from all time periods, but mostly from the Victorian era. Flagler was the man who built the railroad from the north into Florida. His tracks ran all along the east coast of Florida and, at one time, all the way to Key West. Flagler’s other hotel masterpiece in St. Augustine, the Ponce de Leon Hotel, is now the home of Flagler College, one of the most beautiful schools in the south.

But you really should spend a full day at the World Golf Hall of Fame and the World Golf Village. Here is the World Golf Hall of Fame web site.

As you arrive at the area, outside the Hall you’ll notice the names of famous golfers on the Walk of Champions and an array of flags from the nations with members in the Hall of Fame fluttering in the breeze.

 

The Classic Arnold Palmer Signature on the Walk of Champions

The Classic Arnold Palmer Signature on the Walk of Champions

Just inside the entrance to the Hall of Fame you’ll get a peek at a large picture of Jack Nicklaus sinking a crucial putt during his stellar career. It is but a small taste of things to come.

I greatly enjoyed my most recent tour hosted by Travis Hill, Director of Communications at theWorld Golf Hall of Fame. Travis knows his history and made the visit a truly fascinating experience.

The World Golf Hall of Fame has various special exhibits that continually change, so if you have been there before you should plan another visit to see the new stuff. My favorite current exhibit, is the one dedicated to Bob Hope titled “Shanks for the Memory.” Here you will be treated to several rooms full with many of the items that Bob Hope used during his USO shows, stage acts, and during his golf rounds. The “Hope” tournament in Palm Springs, CA was one of the favorites of tour players for many years.

The World Golf Hall of Fame has a tremendous cache of artifacts going back to the origins of our game. You’ll see a sample of a club used to play the early Dutch game of “Kolf”. “Play” clubs from the early times of the Scottish influenced game of golf abound in the Hall. There is even a life sized replica of the Swilcan Burn Bridge at St. Andrews Links in Scotland for you to walk across. 

Life Size Replica of Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews

Life Size Replica of Swilcan Burn Bridge at St. Andrews

 

As you travel through the World Golf Hall of Fame you’ll find displays and exhibits featuring items such as famous clubs and balls from history making shots by your golf heroes. As a matter of fact, the World Golf Hall of Fame trades items back and forth with the people at the USGA golf museum as well as the Augusta National Golf Club. From Old Tom Morris to Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, up through Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, it is all there.

Don’t miss the Wall of Fame with wonderful plaques of each member lining the wall. You will also see a nearby elevator. Be sure to take it up to the Trophy Tower. There you’ll not only see a great display of all the major golf trophies, but a magnificent view of the entire region when you venture out on the walkway of the Tower.

The Wall of Fame at The World Golf Hall of Fame

The Wall of Fame at The World Golf Hall of Fame

One of my favorite areas inside the museum comes at the end. The Members Locker Room has a superb display set up of lockers with each one belonging to a member of the Hall of Fame. In these you can see actual items that the golfers kept in their lockers at a tournament or perhaps their home club locker. It is a great way to finish the tour.

Like they say: “But wait, there’s more”. When your indoor tour is complete you still have the outdoor putting green to try out your skill. Then there is also the Hall of Fame Challenge hole to play. This is a 132 yard island green that bears a resemblance to the famous 17th at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Try your luck to see how close you can hit it to the hole.

If you would like to actually play a round of golf during your visit, there are two ideal courses nearby. The Slammer & Squire course right next to the Hall and the King & Bear course just down the road.

After your tour of the Hall of Fame you may be hungry. Right across the lake in front of the Hall is the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant. Bill Murray of movie Caddyshack fame and his brothers opened the eatery where the wait staff wears caddy bibs with their nicknames on the back. Servers with names like Spike, Flop Shot, and the dreaded Baby Ruth are sure to create an enjoyable atmosphere. The walls are lined with displays of famous names of golfers on caddy bibs – not the golfer’s stuff, only the caddies’. You half expect Carl Spackler himself to come out and begin hunting for a boogying gopher while you dine. The food is pretty good, too.

Well, there you have it. A few days of edification, entertainment, and antiquity in St. Augustine. I feel sure that you’ll really enjoy the trip and gain a better understanding of the history of our favorite game of golf.


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