Ocean renewal: Hammock Beach course emerges from hurricane better than ever

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Ocean renewal: Hammock Beach course emerges from hurricane better than ever

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Ocean renewal: Hammock Beach course emerges from hurricane better than ever

Hammock Beach’s Ocean Course is a Jack Nicklaus design that opened in 2000 and has been firmly entrenched among the top 100 on Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses list for years. So it was a pretty big deal in October 2016 when Hurricane Matthew swept across Florida’s eastern coastline, swamping the Ocean Course under a 9-foot storm surge.

Brad Hauer, Hammock Beach’s director of golf, is moving forward.

“This golf course, when it opens up, will be the best it has ever been, period,” Hauer said of the Ocean Course, which was scheduled to reopen in early November, as this issue was going to press.

Hauer is not the sort who’s given to grandiose statements, so when he says a course already ranked No. 84 among Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses just got a game-changing, $3.5 million facelift, we tend to take notice.

There are two reasons for Hauer’s optimism. The first is the new, wall-to-wall Platinum Paspalum carpet that now covers the entirety of the Ocean Course. It’s a low-maintenance, salt-tolerant grass that requires less water and fertilizers (though more fungicides), so it’s ideal for seaside golf. And he’s certain guests will like the way the ball sits up on this turf and the “true roll” they’ll experience on the greens thanks to the deep root structures and tighter surfaces.

“Truly an amazing grass. . .” Hauer said. “We’re going to blow some doors off when people come out and see this because it’s not like anything you see on a daily basis.”

Hauer has seen it in action because Hammock Beach’s other course, the Conservatory, uses Platinum Paspalum on its greens.

The other cause for Hauer’s excitement about the Ocean Course restoration has to do with the improved vistas left in Hurricane Matthew’s wake. There are six seaside holes on the course, but views of the Atlantic often were obscured by the hedge line along the beach. The storm surge gnawed away at that barrier, and there are plans to tighten it even further.

“It’s truly going to be an amazing ocean golf course experience,” Hauer said. “Our dune line got impacted by the storm surge, and as a result, we have views that we never had before, and it’s spectacular. We’re also going to be allowed to prune up some areas to re-strengthen the dune line and make it stable. And when we do that, the views are going to be stunning. There’s no course in Florida that has six holes on the ocean as we do.”

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