Amelia River Golf Club is located on Amelia Island, just north of Jacksonville and within minutes of the historic town of Fernandina Beach. It’s recognized as one of the most prestigious courses in all of North Florida and a favorite of both local golfers and visitors to the Amelia Island area. There are several reasons for this. One is that the course is always in pristine condition, from the manicured fairways to the sculpted bunkers. The second is the smooth TifEagle greens which roll fast and true. But what seems to set Amelia Island River Club apart from other public access courses in the area is the staff, some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable people I have ever met in the golf industry.
This Tom Jackson designed championship course plays to 6,808 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 74 and a slope of 139. I found that the White/Blue Tees (6,082/70.4/1310 provided a challenge and still let me leave with a little dignity. Five sets of tees plus a couple of blended yardages produce lengths that golfers of all abilities will enjoy. Whether you’re a true beginner or a single-digit handicapper, the course will challenge golfers of all skill levels.
Amelia River Club is a course that is going to reward brains over brawn. Although the course is long enough that you’ll have ample opportunity to hit driver out here, it’s all about ball control and accuracy if you want to score well. The course could be described as a “Links meets Parklands;” some holes are wide open and highly susceptible to the winds that often blow off the nearby water, while others feature tree-lined fairways sculpted around the forest of majestic live oaks, sable palms, pines, and wax myrtles. Water comes into play on at least thirteen holes in one way or another; creeks cross the fairway in several places and there’s a good chance you won’t know they’re there. There’s a lot of mounding on the peripheries of the fairways and around the greens, predominantly on the sides that have no bunkering and the sand traps are well-manicured. This is particularly evident on the par 5 holes. There are no houses in the course, just you, lush green fairways, and that little white ball!
There are several memorable holes out here. Amelia River starts you off with a good test, a 521-yard par 5 that for the majority of golfers is going to be a 3-shot hole. The fairway is wide open off the tee and with the airport to the left, all you need to do is steer your tee shot clear of the bunkers on the right. You’ll have to make a decision with your second shot: go for the gusto or layup. Smart money is on laying up short of the water and making a birdie with a good chip shot. A par is nothing to be ashamed of as you get started.
The second hole is not the type of golf hole you’d expect to see this close to the coast, a beautiful tree-lined Dogleg right par 4. The hole is short and plays a mere 337 yards from the Blue Tees. If you push your tee shot left, you’ll have to contend with a large oak tree in the fairway that can put a damper on an otherwise good approach shot. The green is guarded by a large, deep fairway bunker front right.
Holes 14 and 15 showcase course architect Tom Jackson’s passion for presenting golfers with risk/reward opportunities. If you’re a longball hitter, here’s your chance to make up some strokes. Number 14 is a dogleg left par 4 that plays 321 yards from the White Tees, although it’s more like a left turn than a dogleg. That being said, longball hitters will have a chance to hit it over the water and have a go at the green. The rest of us just need to hit it straight off the tee, past the corner which will leave a short to mi-iron into the green. Number 15 is a slight dogleg left that plays 309 yards and with a well-struck drive is reachable. The green is well-protected by bunkers so it might require a little luck as well.
The club’s signature hole is Number 17, a 147-yard par 3 over water into an island green. That seems to be the theme up here in northeast Florida! The triangular green if guarded front left by a small bunker. If the pin is in the front, things can get interesting! The signature 17th hole is a par three surrounded by water demanding an accurate shot to the island green which closely resembles another very famous golf hole in our area! The final hole ends at the edge of the Amelia River and its expansive tidal marsh.
With trees framing the fairway off the tee on the par 5 18th hole, the drive can be intimidating. The hole plays 478 yards and doglegs slightly to the left so favor the right side off the tee. The fairway widens in the landing area of your layup and then you’ll have a short pitch shot into an odd-shaped green that’s protected on the right by three bunkers and by trees on the left. It’s a challenging finishing hole.
Before your round, warm up on Amelia River Club’s full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag. If your game needs some work, talk with the friendly PGA professionals in the pro shop and schedule a lesson.
After your round, grab a bite at the River Bar and Grille, Amelia River Club’s casual grill. The menu features delicious breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and salads. It’s perfect for both a hungry golfer with a hearty appetite and a player who wants a lighter fare. You can dine inside or out depending on the weather.
If you can’t get enough of the Amelia River Club’s golf facilities, you may want to consider becoming a member. Several membership categories are available including Single and Family Full Memberships, Corporate and Social Memberships. Your monthly membership fee entitles you to reduced cart fees and no fees after 2 pm if you’re walking, unlimited greens fees and range fees, advance tee time booking, and discounts in the pro shop and restaurant.
For more information on booking your next round of golf at Amelia River Club, give them a call at (904) 491-8500 or visit their website, where you can book a tee time online. www.ameliarivergolf.com.