Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Location: Renaissance World Golf Village Resort

Talk about convenience for the golf vacationer. Step out the back entrance of the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort hotel near St. Augustine on Florida's east coast and the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant is only about 100 paces to your right. 

To the left, is a less than a minute walk to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Best of all, the first tee of The Slammer and The Squire golf course is less than a football field away.

The PGA Tour Golf Academy is within walking distance of the hotel and the World Golf Village Spa overlooking the The King and The Bear golf course is just a few minutes shuttle away.

Away from the World Golf Village resort complex, there are two exceptional outlet shopping malls (180 stores) about five miles away and the historic city of St. Augustine, with its quaint shops, bed and breakfast inns and dozens of excellent restaurants, is about a 20 minute drive.


The 10-story, 4 Diamond Renaissance World Golf Village Resort has 301 guest rooms and suites. Appointed with tasteful wall art, the rooms exude a "Colonial Asian" ambiance with muted color fabrics on furniture. Amenities are plentiful with 37-inch flat-panel televisions, spa-inspired bathrooms with a walk-in showers, designer toiletries, Euro-style bedding and a wet bar and refrigerator.

Hotel amenities include:

--Complimentary shuttle service to St. Augustine
--Walking and jogging trails
--Swimming pool and hot tub
--Villagio Italian Grille Restaurant
--Starbucks at Resort Shop
--101,000 square feet of meeting space
--Villagio lobby bar   


World Golf Village offers two superb designs fashioned by some of the biggest names in golf. The King and The Bear, by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, has intriguing features like  beach bunkers, massive sandy fairway hazards spilling into the adjoining lakes without a lip, just like a beach.

The Slammer and The Squire, designed by Sam “The Slammer” Snead, Gene “The Squire” Sarazen with consultation from Bobby Weed has generous landing areas, contoured greens and spectacular views of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Nearby Golf

Other exceptional resort play opportunities in the region include the Sawgrass Marriot Golf Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, home to THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, The Conservatory and Ocean courses at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, a AAA Four Diamond Resort, a multi-course complex with several oceanside holes.

10 Little Things I like about the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort: 

1. The phenomenal spacious atrium lobby with comfortable chairs and sofas, fountain and babbling brook that make it a great place to sit and check messages on your smart phone.

2. Great wine by-the-glass choices at Villagio Restaurant.

3. The superb Chicken Saltimbocca and Grilled Asparagus with prosciutto, radish and lemon aioli I had at dinner at Villagio Restaurant.

4. The plush European style bedding.

5. The Starbucks at the Resort Shop just off the lobby where I had a blonde roast with a swirl of carmel a few minutes after my arrival.

6. The oversize executive desk in my room that made it easy to work.

7. The short walk to the first tee of the Slammer and Squire.

8. The pods where you check-in, which are much less intimidating than a long, ominous counter.

9. The comfortable lobby bar in front of the Villagio Restaurant.

10. The outdoor patio with comfy couches and chairs where you can soak up some Florida sun and enjoy a cappuccino in the morning or cool libation in the evening as you gaze at the lake and World Golf Hall of Fame Tower.

World Golf Hall of Fame

Just a short one-minute walk from the Renaissance World Golf Village, the World Golf Hall of Fame is different in style than its counterparts in football, baseball and basketball.  If your image of a sports museum is a dark, cave like structure with bronze plaques and static displays, you’ll need to readjust your thinking at the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Combining a Disneyesque flair for entertainment, cutting-edge design and innovative display techniques, the exhibits in the World Golf Hall of Fame appeal to casual observers as well as golf fanatics.

Visitors can walk across a life-size replica of the famous Swilcan Burn Bridge from the 18th hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews and putt on an old-style surface with an antique putter as they celebrate the history of golf.

To honor recent inductees, the Hall features an array of memorabilia plus large plasma televisions showcasing highlights from their careers on and off the course.
One of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s most visited areas is the Trophy Tower, which holds a collection of golf’s major championship trophies as well as The PLAYERS Championship, U.S. Amateur and World Golf Championship trophies.

The epicenter of the museum, so to speak, is Shell Hall where members are honored on an 88-foot-long “Wall of Fame”.  Equally entertaining is the Member Locker Room, which features authentic, life-like lockers, one for each World Golf Hall of Fame member. The lockers are filled with items like golf bags, clubs, scorecards, trophies, badges and other golf memorabilia as well as personal items like fly rods, baseball bats, and photos to name a few.
Among the current featured exhibits are “Nancy Lopez: Pride, Passion, and Personality” and “Bob Hope: Shanks for the Memory.”


Renaissance World Golf Village Resort is situated just off Interstate-95 about 12 miles northwest of St. Augustine and 20 miles south of Jacksonville.

Contact Information 

You can click to the Renaissance World Golf Village website or call 888-740-7020 or 904-940-8000.

Friday, January 10, 2014

10 Great Places to Eat and Drink Golf in the U.S.

Gigantic onion rings, roasted garlic French fries and a Chicago Dog are just a few of the sumptuous foods offered at my favorite 19th holes and golf themed restaurants. 

Let's face it, after a long day on the course accentuated by a shank or two, there's nothing like enjoying some comfort food with your friends in a golf-friendly pub or restaurant, right?

Here are 10 places where everybody talks golf, the beer is cold and the menus are designed for hungry golfers:

1. NONA BLUE (Orlando, FL)--Part owner Graeme McDowell’s pub/restaurant, with items like Gmac’s Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese, Mama’s Double Stacked Meatloaf and Traditional English Fish and Chips, is the ultimate post round hangout. Located just outside the gates of Lake Nona Golf Club, where McDowell has a home, Nona Blue is teeming with rich, dark wood appointments and furniture. With just a few golf photos and memorabilia, it feels more like a high-end tavern/restaurant than a 19th hole bar. 

2. McKEE'S PUB at Bandon Dunes Resort (Bandon Dunes, Oregon--After a day of oceanside, links style golf at one of the resort's magnificent courses, McKee's Pub is a great place to enhance the Scottish theme to your day. Smartly appointed with dark wood furniture, fireplaces and golf art, this pub is warm and friendly with a menu dotted with delicacies like Braised Lamb Stew, Roast Chicken Pie and its signature dish, Grandma's Meatloaf, which is served with pan gravy, smashed potatoes and green beans.

3. MURRAY BROS. CADDYSHACK (St. Augustine, FL)--Set in World Golf Village, this whimsical restaurant was created by actor comedian Bill Murray and his five brothers. Designed to look and feel like a country club gone bonkers, Murray Bros. Caddyshack features the Bunker Bar with two, 150-inch quad television screens plus additional TVs and lots of memorabilia from the popular movie as well as wacky golf related d├ęcor. When it’s time to order, you can choose from a menu that includes the Seasoned Italian Beef sandwich with giardiniera peppers, sport peppers and au jus for dipping, the Double Bogey Cheeseburger, a 2/3 pound ground chuck burger topped with your choice of cheese and the Chicago Dog, a Windy City classic with a beef hot dog on a poppy seed roll with sweet green relish, red onion, tomato, yellow mustard, sport peppers, pickle spears and a sprinkle of celery salt.

4. DONALD ROSS GRILL at Pinehurst Resort (Pinehurst, NC)--Overlooking the world’s largest putting green and Putterboy statue, it’s ideally situated in the clubhouse complex.  Following my favorite lunch at the Donald Ross Grill, a Maniac Hill Club Sandwich with hickory smoked bacon and Beefsteak tomatoes and a large, unsweetened ice tea (the locals love the sweetened, but it’s way too sugary) followed by a piece of Southern Bourbon Pecan Pie, I exit through the front door, take a right to walk through a hallway dotted with historic photos and proceed to gaze at the Payne Stewart statue just outside the side door by the pro shop. We're talking golf nirvana, my friends.

5. GREG NORMAN'S AUSTRALIAN GRILLE (Myrtle Beach, SC)--The Great White Shark’s upscale restaurant features wood grilled steaks and an exceptional wine list. Billing itself as "the upper crust of down under dining", Greg Norman's Australian Grille is not the place you'll be going if you lost wagering on the golf course. Entrees range in price from $24 to $39 at this high-end, waterfront restaurant. Superbly prepared meat, poultry and fish selections make this one of Mrytle Beach's best restaurants. How about a pan-seared New York Striploin topped with hearty portabella whiskey cream sauce with au gratin potatoes? If you have a few extra bucks or just want to spurge in Myrtle Beach, this is the place to do it.

6. BRITISH OPEN PUB (Hilton Head Island, SC--If you don't have the money or inclination to make the trip across the pond, you can soak up some serious British ambiance at the British Open Pub on Hilton Head (there's also a location in nearby Bluffton). From Scotch Eggs and Shepherd's pine to Bangers and Mash and Steak and Mushroom Pie, the menu is a great one. You can top it off with Homemade Chocolate Bread Pudding and Old English Deep Dish Apple Pie. The comfortable dining room has over-size booths, golf memorabilia and flat screen televisions.

7. MR. B's LOUNGE at Pinecrest Inn Resort (Pinehurst, NC-- Set just off the lobby at the venerable Pine Crest Inn, Mr. B's Lounge, once owned by golf architect Donald Ross, is one of America's great 19th holes. Brimming with vintage golf photos, paintings, pin flags and other memorabilia, this place puts you in celebratory mood regardless if you played well or crashed and burned on one of the area's more than 40 golf courses. Don't miss the infamous chipping hole in front of the fireplace during cocktail hour. It's a great place to redeem yourself with a gallery watching. The pub fare offered is reliable with burgers, wings and grouper bites on the menu.

8. PHIL's GRILL at Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, AZ--If you're a "Philly Mick" fan, you'll love Phil's Grill. Dotted with memorabilia from Mickelson's junior golf days to his major championships, it has an elegant ambiance with a hardwood bar and leather couches. Menu highlights include the Navajo  Corn Chowder, Crispy Coconut Shrimp and Soft Shell Tortilla Tacos.

9. TILTED KILT PUB & EATERY--Ya gotta love this concept. Servers in this Celtic themed pub are voluptuous, attractive young ladies clad in mini-kilts and plaid bras. Tilted Kilt's boast is "A cold beer never looked so good." The menu includes items like Irish Nachos, Roasted Garlic Fries, Classic Fish & Chips and Olde Dubin Irish Stew. If you can take your eyes off the beautiful ladies (a very difficult task, I might add) there are thirty-five 50 inch flat screen televisions to watch golf tournaments and other sports events. There are 70 locations in 22 states with more pubs in the development stage.

10. SAM SNEAD'S TAVERN--Specializing in oak grilled meats, fish and poultry and brimming with Sam Snead’s golf memorabilia and photos, this concept restaurant has 11 locations around the country. My favorite lunch items include the Oak Grilled Steak and Blue Cheese appetizer and Fresh Grouper Sandwich.  I'm a huge Slammin' Sammy fan so I never get tired of studying the various Snead photos and artifacts on display at Sam Snead's Tavern.

Other favorites include: MacAllisters Grill & Tavern in Sarasota, Florida, High Velocity Sports Bar at TPC San Antonio at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa and Sun Valley Clubhouse bar and veranda at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho.