The Slammer & The Squire: Clearly Radiating an Aura of Modern Class
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL — Opened in 1998, The Slammer & The Squire is the first of three planned golf courses at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL. Designed by Bobby Weed, the course is a tribute to Hall of Fame members and golf legends “Slammin’” Sam Snead and the late Gene “The Squire” Sarazin, who both consulted on the layout.
There is no doubt that World Golf Village is an ambitious project, a facility deemed to be the new international “home of golf” and designed to attract golfers and golf fans from all over the globe. To measure up to the high standard it has set for itself, the initial golf course needs to be equally impressive, holding its own amidst not only the self-imposed importance of the venture as professional golf headquarters for the world, but also as a destination resort on par with all others.
For its part, the golf course delivers. The Slammer & The Squire is reason enough to visit the St. Augustine resort, and the fact that it is adjacent to, and in conjunction with, the Golf Hall of Fame, makes this course a definite must.
The course radiates an aura of modern class. Evident everywhere beginning with the winding drive through the village and further showcased in the clubhouse and the practice grounds, The Slammer & The Squire is undeniably a property of breed. The facilities smack not just of newness but also of a comfortable permanence, confidently accepting the challenge of being an extension of this venerable game’s Hall of Fame.
The Slammer & The Squire is a strong design. It is a playable, dynamic and impeccably manicured course, deserving of recognition amongst the state’s most noteworthy layouts. “Course condition, personnel, amenities, facilities—we feel we’re at that level now,” says Cathy Harbin, Director of Golf for The Slammer & The Squire. Even with the opening of the much ballyhooed The King & The Bear, the original course holds its own appeal due to its comparatively graceful, open character.
The course played host to the Senior PGA Tour’s Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf through 2000 (the event will be hosted by The King & The Bear in 2001). It’s no wonder why the Senior Tour felt that this course, distinctively wrapping around the glass and granite architecture of the Hall of Fame complex, was a site befitting of a tournament that honors the golf’s living legends. It seems such a natural fit.
The layout is classically Florida, consisting of two distinct nines, frequent integration of water and marshes, and plenty of sand. Tour players get around the course at 6,939 yards, but four alternative sets of tees are offered. Low handicappers tee off at 6,660 yards and the near tees are a soft 4,996 yards.
The first tee is a composite character of the front nine, a relaxed welcoming par 4 of 377 yards (from the back tees) bordered by a forest of indigenous pines called “flatwoods”. The tees boxes here lay in the shadows of the Hall of Fame, overlooking the broad, undulating fairway that gently doglegs right into a large, rolling green. The slope and speed of the first green is significant; the greens on this course are large, slick and mightily contoured.
The strongest holes at The Slammer & The Squire give the golfer decisions off the tee. The fourth hole is called “Double Trouble,” a 501-yard par 5 with various possibilities from the beginning. A swampy water hazard plays diagonally up the right side off the tee, and the more the player chooses to carry the tee shot over this, the better the position will be for your second. The green is reachable for long hitters who can turn the ball over right-to-left, but the price paid for an overly aggressive shot is severe. Anything hooked or pulled slightly left of the green will find another water hazard. Ideally, the hole is played from the tee with a power fade and followed by a high controlled draw on the approach. Boldness and execution will be rewarded with a birdie chance.
The first nine holes are capable of inducing a sensation of nature and isolation as they play through the preserved forest of trees. The second nine is more open and less distinctive than the front and incorporates views of the omnipresent Hall of Fame Tower Shrine. Fewer trees and greater wind-factor make this side the more challenging of the two.
Holes eight through eleven are solid, if unremarkable, offerings that lull you into a comfort zone leading into a barrage of five tremendous finishing holes that climax the round, beginning with fourteen, a tempting par 4 of only 300 yards. The hole is well defensed on the left by a series of staggered, sloping bunkers and water beyond. Tee shots must be placed accurately to avoid trouble, driver is a risky play, and up-and-downs around this camel-backed green require a delicate touch. Proper club selection can be worth one or two strokes.
Fifteen is called “Looks Easy” because it is only 135 yards. The green rises up on bulkheads over a lake that borders this hole to the right. The long, deep putting surface runs diagonally to the right away from the tee, so a back right pin-placement can be deadly. This one-shotter will severely test your nerves as there is no way to land your ball near the pin without hanging your ball out over the water.
Sixteen is a massive, slightly uphill par 5 measuring 561 yards. It requires three solid shots to find this green, one of the most severely tilted on the course. Seventeen is a long, strong dogleg left, par 4 of 448 yards. A bunker and water reside at the inside corner, and though the fairway is huge, the best play is to run the tee-shot as near to this fairway bunker as possible in order to clip off a few extra yards. It could mean the difference between hitting an iron or a fairway metal into this green that slopes back to front.
As if the previous four holes haven’t been testy enough, eighteen is another lengthy par four, this one weighing in at 412 yards, a continuous bend to the left bordered by a lake that follows from tee to green. Reminiscent of the eighteenth at the TPC at Sawgrass due to its shape and placement, players who have length and a right-to-left ball flight have a distinct advantage. Getting to the green in regulation here requires two of the best shots of the round.
Perhaps more than anything, The Slammer & The Squire strives to be both fair and fun. If the tendency is to think that the course is too forgiving off the tee, then that is the intention. The real golf begins on the approach shots. “From the forward tee you can actually play the course with a putter,” says Harbin, but “if you miss a green you’re going to have a tricky little chip shot. You’ll have to be creative.”
That’s the challenge, even from the back tees. Players must be able to strike precise mid-irons into steeply contoured, fast greens after luxuriously banging drivers out to these wide fairways. In any estimation, the course is designed to be completely playable, yet demanding for all handicaps.
“The course is designed to be player friendly,” reminds Harbin, who notes that this course will always be viewed as World Golf Village’s “resort” layout, while The King & The Bear offers a more challenging test for the accomplished golfer.
In The Slammer & The Squire, World Golf Village has a course well suited to the resort’s admirable needs, and will continue to attract widespread attention as is matures. This course, along with The King & The Bear, can only enhance their desire to be the world’s number one golf destination.
Visit the World Golf Village website at http://www.slammerandsquire.com/.
World Golf Village is located approximately ten miles south of Jacksonville just off I-95 at exit 95. Green fees are seasonal, with a low of $95 dollars in the summer months and a high of $170 in March and April. Prices in other months fall in between. Call 904-940-6088 for reservations.