By Jason Bruno
On April 19th, the Omni Amelia Island Resort – a 1350-acre coastal destination situated on the far edge of the northeast coast of Florida celebrated the grand opening of the resort’s new 10 hole “Little Sandy” short course, a Beau Welling design (above) along with an 18 hole putting course now open to Omni guests and members of the Amelia Island Club.
Welling’s latest creation features 10 holes consisting of distances ranging from 50-125 yards (and in some cases slightly less or more depending on tee and hole locations). The routing takes you around Red Maple Lake within the Oak Marsh habitat and evokes an inclusive atmosphere that breeds a spirit of community. Little Sandy offers options and encourages creativity via the ground game. The greens offer bold contours throughout with well-placed backboards and side slopes that provide plenty of fun for better players to funnel well-placed shots into certain hole locations. Welling made a point of designing each tee shot so the right-handed player would always have the lake as the vista in view (villas on the perimeter of all ten holes will be to the player’s back).
Little Sandy can easily be played in an hour or so, in fact, Josh Heidenreich (Vice President, Operations at Omni Hotels & Resorts) and I had such a blast, we played it twice. Is there a better endorsement than the desire to play a course again the moment you putt out on the last hole? The short course serves as the ideal evening round while chasing the sun, and also as a warm up to the resort’s 18-hole 1972 Pete Dye layout – Oak Marsh, which is quite challenging, featuring tight fairways and small greens (below).
The Little Sandy porch features some of the coolest merch, refreshments, and a classic low country vibe that provides shade and an ideal spot to watch players finish.
As we played the tenth, Josh and I looked back and watched course architect Beau Welling execute the perfect links ground game shot, taking flatstick from the tee at the ninth (above). He rolled it to within two feet. Bravo . . .
Welling saved the only required forced carry for the last hole here at the tenth.
“Our golf experience is more welcoming than ever for all who stay with us on Amelia Island,” says Theo Schofield, Managing Director, Omni Amelia Island Resort. “We could not imagine a better complement to our championship layout, Oak Marsh, and we look forward to all guests enjoying Little Sandy as an entertaining and unique alternative.”
“We are honored to have worked on Little Sandy with our partners at Omni,” says designer Beau Welling. “We have created a course where players could use just their putters on nearly every hole or use several clubs in their bag, if desired. The relaxed atmosphere and golf course strategy that includes multiple routes from tee-to-green will make Little Sandy a haven for fun and creativity.”
As we played our encore round, we crossed paths with father and daughter on vacation from New York City, it looked to be her first experience on a golf course. About 30 minutes later, while we played the eighth, the pair were celebrating after a holed shot on the adjacent 4th green. They were jumping up and down, high fiving and filling the air with exuberance, experiencing exactly what Beau Welling had envisioned when he created this gem. Josh and I stopped and joined in giving the young girl an ovation of our own – Little Sandy was an instant hit.
If you haven’t considered the North Florida Coast in your travel plans before, be sure to check out the Omni Amelia Island Resort. For more information about Omni Amelia Island Resort or to book, visit: omnihotels.com/ameliaisland