Architect: Bobby Weed
The original course at World Golf Village, Slammer & Squire, is overshadowed by the resort’s more hyped Palmer/Nicklaus collaboration, King & Bear. Which is doubly unfortunate because the entire World Golf Village and Hall of Fame complex near St. Augustine has failed to capture the public’s fancy in any meaningful way since it opened in the late 1990’s.
Still, overshadowed it shouldn’t be. The Slammer & Squire is elegant, intelligent and beautifully presented. It’s how I would try to build a course if I had nothing but wetlands and forests of unremarkable flat pines to work with, and if I didn’t have the budget to do something groundbreaking or pimped out like TPC Sawgrass built on very similar topography just 30 or so minutes northeast.
But what indeed holds the course back from being more widely admired-other than its frequent triple-digit green fees which are hard to justify in this market-is the level and inferior site that won’t impress locals nor those visitors who do happen to travel here (the property sits on the border of an area called Big Island Swamp, if that gives you any idea of its qualities).
Neither did the Slammer receive anywhere near the media publicity leading up to its opening that its sibling enjoyed. But that’s
all part of what gives the course its gumption and makes me admire it. It does a lot with very little and plays far more sophisticated than its pedigree would suggest.
The first nine roams through a nondescript area intended for as-yet-to-be-realized development, while the second plays basically back and forth near the resort’s base. Throughout it all there’s something almost ineffable and coded about Weed’s hazard placement—you can’t totally trust what your eyes see.
Especially at holes like the 9th, a par four with the same basic bunkering concept as Seminole’s famous 6th that screws with your orientation and depth perception. Or the drivable par four 14th, with large format bunkering and vertical greenside features that seem to float and enter the visual field in places you wouldn’t expect.
There’s also detail and craftsmanship in the shaping—a certain small scale, handmade quality—that would be at home on the courses where namesakes Snead and Sarazen would have honed their arsenals in their youths. Ultimately it’s the Slammer’s width and voluptuous ground movements (check out the bulbous putting surface at the16th, the enormous fall-away green at six and the bold Redan seventh) that emphasize the short game that collude remarkably well to overcome a difficult and ordinary site. (90)