After being closed for renovations over the past year, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Ocean Course has reopened with an expansion of the practice area into a full-service facility, updating and modernization of the golf course infrastructure and the addition of a new hole on the back nine. Alongside the reopening of the Ocean Course, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club also unveiled two new beachfront buildings with 41 new guest rooms and suites.
The Ocean Course project was the third major renovation to the course, which was initially constructed in 1928 and opened in 1931. The most recent renovation was overseen by golf course architect Bobby Weed.
“It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the reopening of the Ocean Course,” said Michael Gordon, vice president and general manager of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. “Today marks a culmination of hard work and tireless efforts to provide our members and resort guests the finest of golf experiences. The Ocean Course has long been a jewel of golf in the area and these enhancements will ensure that this continues for years to come.”
The practice area saw several improvements, starting with the teeing ground on the existing south tee being tripled in size and the addition of a teeing ground on the north end for PGA professional lessons. Access was also added to double-sided target greens and short-game precision greens, and just off the new 10th tee is a state-of-the-art short-game practice facility.
The updates to the practice facility also allowed for changes to the back nine. The former par-4 10th hole was eliminated, which allowed for the construction of a new par-3 13th hole on the north end of the property. This change makes the Ocean Course now a par 71.
Other notable changes include the green at the 2nd hole being moved closer to the surrounding lagoon. The 9th hole, with its historic Island Green, was enhanced to provide a better view of the putting surface. The 14th hole also got a completely new look from the tee, which makes it now a more challenging par-5. Additionally, the 17th hole now features an enlarged lagoon bordering the right side of the hole.
All 18 greens were rebuilt to meet current USGA standards and grassed with TifEagle Ultradwarf bermudagrass. All tee boxes were also rebuilt and grassed with TifGrand bermudagrass and all in-play areas were re-grassed with Celebration bermudagrass.
Bunkers were rebuilt and reconfigured with an emphasis on strategy, overall aesthetics and maintainability. Bridges and bulkheads were also rebuilt and refurbished along with a complete overhaul of the irrigation system. Non-turf screening areas were also introduced, which allows for reduced irrigated and maintained rough grasses, adding to the strategic value of the redesign.
Originally designed by British golf course architect Herbert Strong, the Ocean Course opened in 1931. It was renovated in 1947 by Robert Trent Jones and in 1998 by Weed. It has hosted the U.S. Open qualifying five times and has been the hot of the Gate Invitational since 1985. The course was selected as the host of the 1939 Ryder Cup Matches, but the competition was subsequently canceled due to the start of World War II.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is also home to a second course, the Lagoon Course, a par-70 6,022-yard course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones and Joe Lee and later restored and enhanced by weed. This course is surrounded by tall pines, palms and ancient oaks, which carve up narrow fairways. A mosaic of lakes and lagoons make this a challenging course for any player.
For those wanting to visit and try the new Ocean Course, the new Ocean House and Peyton House at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club offer brand new guest rooms and suites just a short walk away from the course. Decorated in a chic, southern coastal fashion, each room and suite has a private terrace or patio that lead directly onto the beach.
Multigenerational travel is an important focus of the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club thanks in part to its long history. With this in mind, many of the rooms feature room connectors to accommodate large families and groups traveling together. The addition of the new rooms and suites in the Ocean House and Peyton House brings the total guest rooms to 262 rooms.
In addition to the two golf courses and beach activities, the resort also features a 30,000 square foot spa, three pools, The Racquet Club with tennis facilities, an 8,000 square foot fitness center with direct ocean views and over a dozen fine dining establishments, casual restaurants, lounges, and bars.
This piece was originally published in my column on Forbes.com
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