Several golf destinations around the country can boast of having golf courses individually designed by Jack Nickaus and Arnold Palmer, but there only is one place that has a course designed co-designed by Nicklaus and Palmer. Fittingly, that place is part of the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL., home to the Wold Golf Hall of Fame, which celebrates the great players, achievements and history of the game. The King & Bear is one of the two courses at World Golf Village. The other – the Slammer & Squire – pays tribute to another pair of legends – Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. That course is located in the shadows of the Hall of Fame tower. The King & Bear is located about a 15-minute drive from the WGV grounds as the centerpiece of a private country club community. Like the Slammer & Squire, the King & Bear is open for public play and offers stay and play packages through Renaissance Resort World Golf Village, a terrific hotel on the grounds of WGV and less than 30 minutes from St. Augustine’s Historic District.
There are plenty of lodging and dining options in the WGV/St. Augustine area, but to get the full effect of WGV, the Hall of Fame and the courses – each managed by Troon Golf – it’s best to check into one one of the several stay and play packages that include golf, tune up at PGA Tour Golf Academy, accommodations, Hall of Fame tickets, and tickets to the IMAX theater.
The King & Bear and Slammer & Squire each offer characteristics and challenges. The Slammer & Squire (6,939 yards, par 72) has less trees than King & Bear, meaning it has wide fairways – perfect for resort play. The King & Bear (7,279 yards, par 72)), with its tree-lined fairways and deep sand bunkers, is the more difficult of the two, as well as a good example of Palmer and Nicklaus design philosophies.
The rock walls, stacked bunkers and long water lines, for example, are pure Palmer; the kidney-shaped greens and shots that require long fades into those green each are Nicklaus trademarks.
For golf buddy trips or even a day of family play, you won’t be disappointed with either course. But if you can only play one, my favorite is the King & Bear. It’s a terrific course that also gives guests the private club experience.