The King and Bear is the only golf course in the world that has been co-designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Located at the World Golf Village, a massive residential project in St. Augustine, Florida, the course offers a mixture of different design styles. Both legends collaborated on every hole with some holes having more influence from one than the other. Probably influenced by television commercials featuring Gary Player we stayed on property and played two courses – the King & Bear and the Slammer & Squire. The King and Bear course winds among the residential communities of the Village. The stylish stone-faced clubhouse serves delicious meals.
This course is long, at 7279 yards from the back tees, and 6506 yards from the middle tees. Both Palmer and Nicklaus wielded power games, and the course reflects that. The King and Bear is #26 in Florida according to Golf Magazine’s 2016-17 ranking. King and Bear have more homes than the sister Slammer and Squire course. The course is over-seeded with Rye on the fairways, and greens in the winter as the Bermuda grass in the rough goes dormant and turns brown. Water is in-play on eight holes but is seen on seventeen holes. For example, two Par5’s wrap completely around water hazards from tee to green. There are no trick holes. The landing areas are generous, and the fairways and greens are relatively flat. The first cut of rough is typically shaved and slopes into the fairway bunker or the water hazard effectively narrowing the fairway widths. In other cases, waste bunkers protect the shot from running into the water hazard. Although the course doesn’t look as green during the winter over-seeding, the course remains the same.
It’s not tricky and not a shotmakers course. Although it’s long, play is straightforward with no blind shots. And the fresh apples on ice at the first and tenth tees is a nice touch.