Written by Ashton Monk, Ponte Vedra High School Senior, Class of 2021 and Ponte Vedra Focus Blog Scholarship Participant
The Jacksonville area has its fair share of wonderful golf culture and courses. With THE PLAYERS Championship held every year in Ponte Vedra Beach and the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, the area is a hub for golf enthusiasts from all around the world. However, the prices to play the courses in TPC Sawgrass or World Golf Village can be quite steep. For many younger golfers who cannot afford to shell out triple digits on a weekend round, it can be hard to experience the great golf in the area. However, I have mastered the art of finding golf rounds for an affordable price for these golfers.
Finding the Right Course
The first and most important step to getting a round that your wallet will thank you for is finding courses with lower greens fees. All it takes is a little browsing online to find the best of these courses. My top two options for a serious round if I am feeling competitive with my friends are Cimarrone and South Hampton.
These two are located southeast of downtown Jacksonville and are right across the street from each other. An afternoon tee time at these courses can be as low as $25 for both a cart fee and greens fee. They are both very nice courses with a full 18-hole, par 72 layout. Cimarrone has a style very similar to the top tier golf courses in the area. It is a very technical course, as there is a lot of water. At South Hampton, you rarely find yourself hitting into the green without worrying about sand traps, so it is a true test of your mid-iron approach shots.
If you are looking for a nice, casual round, the best option is Blue Sky Golf Club. Located northeast of Jacksonville, it is a relatively short and easy links course. With an afternoon price of around $30, it is similar to Cimarrone and South Hampton. It is certainly an easier course but is still a full 18 holes and par of 72. The 9th and 18th holes have some of the coolest approach shots of any course I have ever played. They are both downhill shots over a small water hazard and are extremely fun to play. There is also a driving range with Top Golf-like targets set up if you aren’t looking to play a full round, and a restaurant in the clubhouse with great food and a great atmosphere.
My final course suggestion is Palm Valley Golf Club, located in Nocatee. The atmosphere of this course is unmatched. It is a 9-hole, par 29 links course that is an absolute blast to play. You won’t find much competitive spirit at Palm Valley, but on the weekends, it is packed with people having a good time. A typical 18-hole round (playing the course twice) will be about $12 on the weekdays, which is unheard of at any other golf course.
Playing at the Right Time
Another important factor in finding good rounds is playing at the right time. Matinee tee times are much more expensive than they are in the afternoon. Because of this, always book your tee times no earlier than 1:30. A lot of the courses are not packed on the weekdays, so often you can book an afternoon tee time and pay that price but slip in earlier in the day if there is space available. This is not a guarantee, but it is certainly worth going an hour or so early just to see. Prices are also much higher on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, than they are on other days of the week, so try to plan your rounds during the week after school or work if you can.
Some Final Tips
It never hurts to browse the internet before booking a tee time for coupons for local courses. They aren’t very hard to find and can make a huge difference, especially when playing with a group. Also, many high schoolers will qualify for junior rates that they may not even know exist, so always ask the course if you are under 18. Finally, some courses will allow you to walk, which will completely remove the cart fee, a huge chunk of the price.
If you follow all of the advice in this article, you should become a pro at golfing for cheap in an area with its fair share of expensive rounds of golf. With such a great golf community in Northeast Florida, money should not be a factor that leaves people out, so hopefully these tips and tricks help bring in some new members.