When the Golf Channel is shopping around for a venue to film their popular golf reality show The Big Break, they don’t settle for second best. In past seasons, the Big Break has been filmed at places like Kingsmill Resort, St. Andrews, Trump National, Reunion Resort, Disney World, Casa De Campo, Greenbriar and Indian Wells. For the most recent series which is currently airing on Mondays at 9PM, the Golf Channel selected the Omni Amelia Island Resort. We wanted to see what all the fuss was about so we stopped by for a weekend visit.
The Omni Amelia Island Resort is situated on the southern part of Amelia Island, located on the Atlantic Ocean just north of Jacksonville, Florida and a few miles south of the Georgia border. The property has a very intimate vibe, with huge oak trees draped with spanish moss everywhere to provide plenty of shade and giving the resort an old florida feel. The hotel and many of the villas are on the ocean, with fantastic views of the Ocean Links golf course and the beach. The golf courses have holes on the ocean and the Amelia river, spanning from one side of the island to the other, making for a nice variety of views and landscapes while playing. The tennis facility is also one of the best in the southeast and top 50 tennis resorts in the US, having hosted legends of the game like Andre Agassi, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters. The Omni Amelia Island Resort offers lots more to do than just golf and tennis, such as fishing, kayaking, several pools, the beach, nature trails, shopping, dining and more. However, my primary focus on this short visit was golf.
The Ocean Links course, designed by Bobby Weed, meanders through the natural beauty of tidal marshes and lagoons, the Atlantic Ocean, and mature live oak trees. The course is short by modern standards at only 6300 yards, but the small greens and tight fairways make it challenging. There are five holes along the ocean and the wind is always in play. This par 70 layout is no pushover!
The Oak Marsh course is a classic Pete Dye layout, designed in 1972 shortly after he completed the iconic Harbor Town Golf Links. The course is known for its tight fairways and smallish greens, meandering along salt marsh creeks and through the moss draped oak trees for which Amelia Island is famous. Water comes into play on virtually every hole, and several bulkhead greens are well defended by deep bunkers. The 6500 layout has been included in Golf Digest’s prestigious list of the “Top 75 Resort Courses in the U.S.” Oak Marsh has also been selected by Travel & Leisure as one of “Florida’s 50 Finest Courses.”
Tom Fazio added the private Long Point course in 1987 and the resort’s members call this one home. Resort guests can book tee times at Long Point on a limited basis and I recommend that you do. Long Point winds through all three natural settings on Amelia Island: Lush marshes, thick oak and pine forest and oceanfront dunes. Long Point’s character is defined by natural waste bunkers, large undulating greens and unique back-to-back oceanfront par three holes.
The Omni Amelia Island Resort is a top notch Florida golf resort. The fact that the Golf Channel chose them as a venue for Big Break Florida speaks volumes about the challenge and the visual appeal of the courses. It is also apparent on television when the players compete on one of the oceanfront holes or the 9th and 19th holes on Oak Marsh. Amelia Island is a beautiful and tranquil place to unwind and relax, and the Omni Amelia Island Resort is worth the trip!