One of the latest to come up with a marketing tool to promote its collection of golf courses is the Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which now has a portfolio that features the Grand Resorts of Florida after adding the Reunion Resort in Orlando and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast to the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Coast, near Tampa.
The Grand Resorts of Florida added a new Legends of Golf Trail golf package, featuring six nights of accommodations—two at each resort—and nine rounds of golf for rates that start at $292 a night, based on quadruple occupancy. The package included spacious villa accommodations, daily breakfast, $20 retail credit at each resort, advance starting times, unlimited use of the practice facilities, daily one-hour clinics, club storage and locker room service and unlimited access to each of the resort’s fitness centers.
Hammock Beach and Reunion both feature designs by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. There’s also an Arnold Palmer design at Reunion. Larry Packard, who turned 100, did all four at Innisbrook.
It would be difficult to play all nine courses within a span of a week, but I came up with a plan that would work. Most likely, it would appeal to a buddy group, not couples. It works thanks to the fact that rental car companies allow you to pick up a car at one place and drop off it another.
Day 1—Arrive in morning in Tampa and get in afternoon round at Innisbrook, starting with the more player friendly South, which has a different look than the others with some links-like holes.
Day 2—Play the Copperhead, where the touring pros play each spring, and the Island, which many consider just as difficult.
Day 3—Get an early tee time and play the North , the shortest of the four, before taking a 90-minute drive to Orlando. You could have time to stop by the Annika Academy and get some tips from some of her teachers. If your putting is not up to par, there’s the Frankly Putting Pad where former USGA technical director Frank Thomas can give you an assist.
Day 4—Play the Palmer Course, routed on hilly, roller-coaster-like terrain, and the Watson Course, where the emphasis is more about strategy than length.
Day 5—Play the parkland-style Nicklaus Course–less penal than some of his earlier designs, yet challenging–and then take a 90-minute drive to Hammock Beach, located on a barrier island south of St. Augustine. There’s a 9-hole putting course available if time permits before dinner.
Day 6—Get up early and take the short 15-minute drive to the Conservatory Course, a Tom Watson design that can be stretched to 7,776 yards—the longest in Florida. In the afternoon, play the Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course, featuring six holes with views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 7—Drive to Jacksonville, stopping off to play the TPC Sawgrass if your flight schedules allows it.
Of course, breaking the package into three separate trips with longer stays at each resort would be a better plan for the majority of golfers as they might want to play second rounds at their favorites and enjoy the luxurious lifestyle at these resorts.
As a member of the Golf Travel Writers Association, I received a chance to experience part of this package following the recent PGA Merchandise Show, playing at Hammock Beach for the first time and returning to Reunion Resort, where I had twice played with an Irish group.
I would highly recommend all three of the Salamander resorts to those considering a golf vacation in Florida and hope to get back myself in the near future, maybe even trying to play the entire Legends of Golf Trail if I can find three others to join me.
Six of the other writers got a chance to play all nine courses, including a specially-designed 18 holes that features two from each course. Danny Scott has the record with an 83, He and wife, Alice, received invitations to this fall’s grand opening of the new Salamander Resort & Spa, located amid Virginia’s famed horse country and lush vineyards, as the reward for besting the other writers.