Duffer Dan – April 2007

Duffer Dan and the Undercover Gang at Amelia Island Plantation

I hope you all had a fabulous Saint Padraig’s Day. Let me tell you about where the Gang and I spent ours. We went up to the First Coast of Florida to stay and play at the magnificent Amelia Island Plantation. Besides being Florida’s premier island resort, there are four championship golf courses to choose from. Our first night there we had a bit of an old Ireland party with green beer, folks all dressed up in their best Irish attire and a young lad singing some fine tunes from the Emerald Isle. The accommodations are spectacular and ours looked directly out at the Atlantic Ocean.

The next morn we donned our best green golfing duds and went to visit the golf clubhouse. After visiting with Robert Dugger, the Director of Golf for Amelia Island, we found our way to the 1st tee of Ocean Links. We had the first tee time and our round took just over 3 hours. The course design was a collaboration between Pete Dye and Bobby Weed and winds through six miles of natural sand dunes and seaside terrain that make Amelia Island so special. The par 4-1st is 296 yards long and gives one a nice feeling when you pitch from inside 100 yards to the green. All the inland holes have this beautiful canopy of majestic hardwoods. Ten holes feature lagoons and marsh wetlands. When they say ‘Ocean Links’ they mean what they say. After 2 more par fours, we found ourselves oceanfront. Holes 4, 5 & 6 play right along a coastal Atlantic dune ridge, parallel to the beaches of Amelia Island. This unique setting allows for some magnificent views and intriguing play. The tee box from the back tees on # 5, a 152-yard par 3, is a player’s dream picture and the Duffer did himself proud. The layout is only 6108 yards long, a par 70, but don’t take that lightly. With some gusty conditions it takes its toll on the scores. The day we played there was a northwesterly breeze sometimes gusting to over 25 miles per hour, which kept the temperatures down and the ball hanging up when playing into the wind.

Our first encounter with a par 5 was the 498 yard 7th. Everything was fine until we came up to the narrow approach with the flag just ten paces from the water’s edge. Needless to say some got wet including yours’ truly. The course does not return to the clubhouse after nine holes, but we had plenty of visits from the cart lady, and the facilities were well kept. After playing some more holes and enjoying the natural surroundings we came upon a par 3, 187 yards long, and facing the ocean. The 15th would normally have a prevailing wind right in your face, but today it was playing with the wind at our back.

The Duffer was playing some good golf (no blarney in this tale) and decided to play for the front of the green. Yes, he rattled the pin but those devilish golf leprechauns pulled my wee ball out of the cup, and I had to settle for a birdie. After posing for some snapshots, we moved on to #16, a 430-yard par 4 that you need to see from the back tees. You have a huge dune to the right and the beach dunes to the left and you’re supposed to put the ball in a fairway you can barely see. Well, I put the ball on the left rough below the dunes while the Gang was trying to find theirs. My next shot was a downhill lie with the ball below my feet, and you guessed it, that is why I am the Duffer. I hit it short of the green, but still scored better than the rest. The 17th is a par 5 that you can score well on if you put your drive down the middle, then with Red Maple Lake on your left, you play near to the bunkers on the right, which provided the whole Gang an easy short iron to a green. Pars and birdies for all. The finishing hole is a par 3 with the green sitting out in the lake. This is a golf experience I will not soon forget. Not only did I play the course well, but the Amelia Island Plantation experience was the very best. Erin Go Bragh!