Palm Coast Resort: Where the Value is Virtually Unmatched

By Derek Duncan, Contributor

PALM COAST, Fla—Face it—golf is expensive. Affordable courses that feature designs comparable to resort layouts are rare, and prices aren’t coming down.

Boom times and soaring budgets have made building high caliber, big name golf designs a ho-hum event, and hefty green fees are just as common. Golf and travel are big business in Florida, a state home to some of the more notable courses in the nation, but unfortunately the majority of golfers cannot afford to play them. Many are resort courses open only to guests, with room rates in the $200-$300 per night range and course fees $100 and up. And face it, the return for those triple-digit green fees is often lacking.

True, if you want to play these magnificent, memorable courses you have to pony up—there is little other option. But when all is said and done, the cost of your vacation is likely to be in the four figures range.

Granted, this is not an issue for everybody, but there are those who would like the opportunity to play courses designed by the architectural notables and not have to spend the equivalent of what they might pay for a small car in exchange for bragging rights and three or four days of shanking sixty dollars worth of golf balls into diabolically penal hazards. In light of this masochistic predilection, a chance to play five beautiful courses designed by golf’s legendary “Big Three,” Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player, along with a Bill Amick course for good measure, for a fraction of what competing resorts cost, might seem an attractive panacea.

You go to Palm Coast for this, a small town situated between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. The name of the resort is, aptly enough, the Palm Coast Resort and is at this time a most attractive answer to soaring resort costs and overcrowded golf courses. The Resort is owned and operated by Destination Hotels & Resorts and home to an 80 slip marina, The Players Club which boasts 18 multi-surfaced tennis courts, the Academy of Golf for personalized instruction, and the five golf courses: Cypress Knoll, Matanzas Woods, Palm Harbor, Pine Lakes, and Ocean Hammock.

Links Magazine rates Palm Coast Resort as one of the “Top 100 Golf Resorts in North America” but there is no air of pretentiousness here. The Resort fits into the classy, cozy category of hotels, and what it may lack in action and pizzazz it makes up for in affordability and amenity. Guests stay at the 154-room Palm Coast Resort Hotel, a beautiful edifice overlooking the nationally acclaimed marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s also within walking distance of one of the most beautiful stretches of soft sand beaches in Florida. The Hotel features Flagler’s Restaurant, an elegant dining experience, and Henry’s Sports Bar and Grill for a more relaxed, slightly louder atmosphere.

Room rates for the Resort hotel are as attractive as the scenery, beginning at $89 per night, double occupancy, and topping out at $149 in high season (rates are subject to change). Stay and Play golf packages are available and are a great way to get the best rates at the five courses. Call 904 445-3000 for more information.

The Players Club is a magnificent addition to the Resort, recognized as one of the premier tennis centers in the country. It offers a variety of clinics and tournaments throughout the year conducted by Peter Burwash International pros that staff the club and conduct the lessons. Call 904 446-6390 for more tennis information.

The golf, however, is the primary attraction, with a unique and varied array of courses and options. With the recent debut of Ocean Hammock the Palm Coast Resort will be able to lay claim as the only facility featuring courses designed by Nicklaus, Palmer and Player.

The golf courses were built at different times, with Palm Harbor being the oldest and nearest to the hotel. They are spread throughout the Palm Coast region, with Matanzas Woods, Pine Lakes, and Cypress Knoll toward the west side of Palm Coast, about a five to eight minute drive from the hotel, and Ocean Hammock north of the resort along the Atlantic.

Transportation is thus necessary to access all 90 holes, but the advantage to this setup is that each course is different from the others, and the full gamut of topography in this part of Florida is explored. It adds up to as complete and variable a range of golf experiences as any resort in Florida is capable of offering, and the chance to play layouts designed by some of the most venerable names in golf in one locale is a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

With Ocean Hammock now open the Resort can boast a course on par with nationally acclaimed resort courses such as the Stadium Course at Sawgrass and Bay Hill. The other four courses come with less fanfare, but none of them cost anywhere near the price of these others. The overall attraction of the golf at Palm Coast Resort is the designers, the variety, playability, and value. Up until Ocean Hammock opened Matanzas Woods, one of the Palmer/Ed Seay courses (Pine Lakes is the other), was the most decorated course of the four, host of the 1999 and 2000 PGA Tour Qualifying School Tournaments. Cypress Knoll is the Resort’s unsung jewel.

Overall, the value is virtually unmatched. For those not staying at the Resort each course in the rotation can cost as little as $25 to play (depending on season), minus tax, cart included.

Follow these links to access detailed features on each of the Palm Coast Resort’s four championship golf courses:

Palm Harbor Golf Club
Pine Lakes Country Club
Matanzas Woods
Cypress Knoll
Ocean Hammock

Derek DuncanDerek Duncan, Contributor

Derek Duncan's writing has appeared in,,,, LINKS Magazine and more. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Cynthia and is a graduate of the University of Colorado with interests in wine, literary fiction, and golf course architecture.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment