Jacksonville Sports Day

SEELY: A Historical Perspective on Local Golf Courses

JAGA News

Given the scope of and concerns surrounding the coronavirus, JAGA made the following announcement on March 18th regarding its two April tournaments:

The Scratch & Spring Four-Ball (April 6 at Marsh Creek) and the 63rd Senior Amateur (April 19-21 at St. Johns G&CC) will be rescheduled, with the target dates being September/October. As soon as dates are known an announcement will be made.

        Individuals who registered for either event will receive a full entry fee refund. JAGA’s May and June events remain as scheduled. We hope these events go off as scheduled but obviously we will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and act in everyone’s best interests. JAGA thanks you for your support and understanding of our decision. May your health be good in the weeks ahead and we see you on the golf course again soon!

JAGA and St. Johns Golf & Country Club subsequently agreed to reschedule the Senior Amateur for Sept. 13-15. No date has been determined for the Four-Ball yet.

A historical perspective on course closures and modifications on the First Coast

        With the closing of the south nine at Oak Bridge for commercial development, we look back at golf courses in Northeast Florida that are now gone or underwent significant alterations.

        This list includes courses which were in this area and commonly used by players and associations here.

        Some are on the general site of a previous course which went out of business and was closed for some period (i.e., Selva Marina to Atlantic Beach.) The list includes include courses which were remodeled into a completely different layout (i.e., Ponte Vedra Inn West nine to the present Lagoon Course.)

        In most cases, courses are listed by the original name.

        The list was compiled through the help of veteran golfers and developers. Much of it is based on memories, thus this list surely contains errors and misconceptions. The reader is urged to help us produce an accurate document by emailing changes to fs4569@comcast.net.

        Amelia Island Plantation Ocean – This was the expansion of nine holes into an 18 that was squeezed between condos and homes. It closed due to a downturn of business but lawsuits by homeowners forced the Plantation to open nine holes.

        Atlantic Beach Hotel Links – Famed architect A.W. Tillinghast’s only area course, it ran east-west with the start and finish at the old Atlantic Beach Hotel.

        Baymeadows – Architect Desmond Muirhead, later to partner with Jack Nicklaus on numerous courses, did this with Hall of Fame member Gene Sarazen. It was on the northeast corner of I-95 and Baymeadows Road, was the site of numerous USGA and PGA Tour qualifiers, and eventually went out of business.

        Beach Boulevard Par 3 – Only the large dinosaur from its adjacent miniature course remains just east of the Southside Expressway overpass over Beach Blvd. It had 18 solid short holes and eventually gave way to development.

        Beauclerc – It is now an upscale housing development about a mile south of San Jose and it opened and closed for the same reasons: it was a Jewish country club. When it opened in the 1940s, Jews were excluded from the city’s private clubs. Times changed, both socially and economically, and clubs opened to persons of all races, creeds and colors, and Beauclerc members moved to clubs nearer their homes.

        Blue Cypress – On the site of the old University Country Club in Arlington, it was part of a city park. There were nine holes and an oddity: no bunkers. Despite the best efforts of pros Byron and Everett Comstock, it could not make it and closed several years ago.

        Brentwood – This is how Golfair Boulevard got its name. A Donald Ross design, it was the center of municipal golf for decades. It was a “white only” course in what became a black neighborhood and was a target for crime. It closed in the late 60s and part of it was redesigned into The First Tee course just off I-95.

        Course at Westland – The McCumber family developed this on the west side, near the old DuClay facility. It was the home of McCumber Golf and now is a housing development at the corner of Collins Road and I-295.

        Dunes – A public course that was the scene of big money games, its clubhouse tavern was the center of much late-night activity. There was a succession of owners, but the area’s golf boom claimed it, and it is now the Police Athletic League facility on Monument Road.

        Ft. George – It is not certified, but it is believed that nine of the holes on the island just off Heckscher Drive were designed by Donald Ross. The island was developed for winter homes, much like Jekyll Island in Georgia, but the golf course closed in the 1990s after a lengthy battle between a developer and homeowners.

        Fairways Executive – This was an executive-type course in the middle of Arlington. It did not attract a following and was swallowed up by development in the 1970s.

        Florida Country Club – A Donald Ross design and built around 1920, it was in what is now the middle of the Ortega neighborhood. It lasted until the 1940s, when the effects of the depression and competition from nearby Timuquana ended it.

        Lincoln Park – This was the city’s “black” course. It was a 9-hole layout near the confluence of Edgewood Avenue and U.S. 1, and the integration of other courses finished it off.

        Macclenny – It operated under various names and residents of the community kept it going until it no longer was economically feasible. It closed in the 1980s.

        Matanzas Woods – Originally part of the giant ITT Palm Coast development, it was an Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design just off I-95. It did not make it through the last downturn.

        Orange Park – This was a sister course to Deercreek, both developed by Chester Stokes with near-identical clubhouses. It went through several owners and finally closed in 2019.

        Panther Creek – A design by a nephew of Pete Dye, it was a quirky course off Chaffee Road on Jacksonville’s west side. A Jacksonville family partnered with a course developer, but home sales did not take off during the downturn and it failed.

        Pine Lakes (Palm Coast) – Like Matanzas Woods, it did not survive the downtown.

        Pine Lakes (North Jacksonville) – This was part of a housing development on North Main Street between Jacksonville and Yulee. It was run by former PGA Tour player Pat Schwab, but the location was not amenable to upscale homes and the course finally closed.

        Ponte Vedra West (9 holes) – In the 1980s, the club decided that it needed 36 holes, rather than 18, and this nine — designed by Robert Trent Jones — was converted into what is now the Lagoon Course. The only holes that bear any resemblance to the original are what are now 7, 8 and 9.

        Ponce De Leon – A Donald Ross design, it was on U.S. 1 just north of St. Augustine and was part of a resort. It was the site of numerous events, including the once-popular JAGA Mixed each year, but business slowly worsened due to increased competition and the reluctance of the Korean owners to improve the facility. It closed in 2003.

        Ravines – This was the hardest course ever built in this area — and we say that knowing the difficulty of TPC Sawgrass — but its remote location (Middleburg) and long distance from major highways brought on a series of owners. The final gasp came when homeowners fought a plan that would allow more homesites, and the developer let it go.

        Reynolds Park – Green Cove Springs may be an out-of-the-way town now but once it was famed for its hot and, allegedly, healing springs. The Reynolds aluminum company had a significant presence in the town and included a golf course. It was not much but it was a nice diversion. There was a succession of name changes from Cattail Creek to its final name, River Bend. It closed a year ago, as it was in the way of the big highway project linking I-10 to I-95 South.

        St. Augustine – Perhaps the original course in the area, it was around the fort in downtown St. Augustine. Little is known of its founding or its demise.

        St. Augustine Links – This was north of the city and a popular stop for golfers from the north. It was designed by Donald Ross around 1916 and closed around the depression.

        St. Mary’s – This was a nine-hole course located just east of Osprey Cove in St. Mary’s Ga.

        Selva Marina – Site of the first two Greater Jacksonville Opens (1965-66), it was a private club in Atlantic Beach developed by the Bull family. The membership declined when the big nearby developments opened, and the club members finally gave up. Atlantic Beach Country Club now sits on the site and the course bears little resemblance to Selva.

        Thousand Oaks – It is hard to believe that there once was a trailer park in the middle of Ponte Vedra Beach. Thousand Oaks was a par 60. It was purchased in the 1980s by Arvida, who also took over Sawgrass, and architect Ed Seay converted it to a par 70. There were several name changes and you now know it as Oak Bridge. The north nine remains and will reopen in late 2020 or early 2021.

        University – In the heart of Arlington, it had an active membership with numerous amenities. The course featured small, elevated greens, and one of the city’s best-known holes was a par 3 along the St. Johns River. The club declined as the neighbor did and it eventually became a city park. It closed in the 1980s, victim of a declining neighborhood.

        West Meadows – It was near Cecil Field on Chaffee Road and owned by the Caruso family. The clubhouse was a popular hangout for Navy retirees in the area. It finally closed in the early 2000s and Chaffee Trail Elementary is on the site with more land for a middle school soon.

        West Nassau – Just south of Callahan, it was a public course that had a succession of managers. The course was known by the giant golf ball at its entrance, a relic from a Beach Boulevard driving range.

        Willow Lakes (DuClay) – Pete Cooper, who won on what it now called the PGA Tour, was part of the project which originally was DuClay Country Club (the developers thought it straddled the Duval and Clay county lines, which it didn’t.) It became Willow Lakes and the original course was named Lakewood when a second course was built called Willow Lakes Troon. It closed in the 1990s.

Planned but never built

Amelia Island Plantation (Gary Player)

Jacksonville Golf and Country Club (North Course) (Jack Nicklaus)

Nocatee (Tom Fazio)

Sunbeam Road Executive (Roy Yates)

Venetia Country Club (Donald Ross)

Woodwings (no architect selected)

Calendar

The following events were scheduled but may not take place. We would appreciate your sending any changes to fs4569@comcast.net.

May 1: U. S. Open qualifying, Plantation.

May 6: Northern Chapter Assistants, Jax Beach.

May 9: JAGA Family Championship, Jax Beach.

May 12: JAGA Directors Meeting, Cimarrone

May 14: Northern Chapter PGA meeting, Glen Kernan.

May 31: JAGA Match Play Championship qualifying, Palencia.

June 3: Pro-Junior, South Hampton.

June 11-12: First Coast Women’s Amateur, Jacksonville G&CC.

June 12-14: JAGA Match Play Championship, Queen’s Harbour Y&CC.

June 17-21: FSGA Women’s Amateur, Hammock Beach.

June 25-28: FSGA Men’s Amateur, Black Diamond.

June 28: PGA Assistants Memorial Pro-Am, Jax Beach.

June 29: Northern Chapter Assistants Future Cup, Jax Beach.

July 1: FSGA One-Day, South Hampton.

July 15: Northern Chapter Assistants, Plantation.

July 17-18: Florida Open (men), Boynton Beach Pine Tree.

July 20-21: Northern Chapter PGA championship, World Golf Village.

July 23-25: JAGA Jacksonville Amateur, Jax Beach.

July 27-28: North Florida PGA Pro-Pro, TPC Sawgrass.

Aug. 2: FSGA One-Day, Golf Club of Amelia.

Aug. 5: USGA Mid-Amateur qualifying, Amelia National.

Aug. 7-9: Florida Open (women,) Quail Creek.

Aug. 24-25: FSGA One-Day, TPC Sawgrass.

Aug. 31: Northern Chapter PGA Pro-Am, Marsh Landing.

Sept. 2: Northern Chapter Assistants, TPC Sawgrass.

Sept. 13-15: JAGA Senior Amateur, St. Johns G&CC.

Sept. 14: FSGA One-Day, Palencia.

Sept. 22-23: FSGA Men’s Senior Four-Ball, Amelia Island Club (Long Point).

Sept. 24: Northern Chapter PGA meeting, Deerwood.

Sept. 28: Northern Chapter PGA Stableford Championship, Ponte Vedra.

Oct. 5: FSGA One-Day, Amelia National.

Oct. 22: Northern Chapter PGA Pro-Lady, Mayport.

Anyone interested in receiving monthly “JAGA News & Notes” and announcements about JAGA and its tournaments via email may do so by signing up at WWW.JAXAREAGOLF.ORG. Simply click on the home page link that reads “Subscribe to JAGA Email”.

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