JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Home of The Players Championship, the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is, without a doubt, a bucket-list course. And it's priced like one. In prime season, right before The Players Championship, for example, the green fee is $495. And that doesn't include a caddie.
That's Pebble Beach-like, but in the world of golf economics, if people will pay it, you're not charging too much money.
Still, we thought it would be interesting to see how far $500 would go for golf in the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra Beach/Saint Augustine area. And depending on your wants, you can play a few really high-end/resort-type places or all the golf you want at some of the bargain daily-fee facilities.
Here's a look:
The World Golf Hall of Fame beckons
If you've never been to the World Golf Hall of Fame, I highly recommend this on your tour of the area. Admission to the Hall is about $20 for adults, and it includes all kinds of cool exhibits honoring the origins of the game.
There are also two golf courses at the World Golf Village, which is where the Hall is located. One is right next to the hotel and World Golf Hall of Fame, and the other a few miles away in a gated community. The Slammer & Squire Course, which pays tribute to its consultants -- Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen -- is the easier of the two. Designed by Bobby Weed, the course offers wide fairways, easier greens complexes and fewer forced carries. The King and Bear Course, named for designers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, is appropriately difficult considering the pedigree of the two great champions.
You'll see design traits common to both throughout, and with plenty of bunkers, water on most holes and some tricky greens, the nearly 7,300-yard course is very challenging. Both courses are always in top condition, as you might expect. Cost (rack rate) for two rounds: around $300.
That leaves us with $180, which you could spend at TPC Sawgrass' Dye Valley Course as long as it's not during The Players Championship. In fact, the week after the tournament, TPC Sawgrass had discounted those rates to $150 because greens conditions weren't up to their usual standards. It's no Stadium Course, but the Dye Course isn't too shabby, having played host to the Web.com Tour Championship since 2014.
Head to the island -- Amelia Island, that is, which is just east of Jacksonville. The first place I would start is the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, which has two courses that can be played for $100 or less, starting with the Pete Dye-designed Marsh Course. And then there's Long Point Golf Course, a 1987 Tom Fazio design with marshes, oaks and oceanfront dunes.
There are a couple of other options as well out toward Amelia Island, and the $300 or so we have left (if we played two of the three at Amelia Island Plantation) will more than cover those. One is the Golf Club at Fleming Island Plantation, which has a diverse landscape that allows for two distinctly different nines. The front nine of the golf course is wide open with waste areas and wetlands to create a classic links feeling.
Or head over to Fernandina Beach and play the Golf Club at North Hampton, a terrific Arnold Palmer design that can be played for around $50. It's actually one of several courses in the area owned and operated by Hampton Golf, which was founded by former PGA of America President M.G. Orender.
In fact, not too far away, you'll find Blue Sky Golf Club in east Jacksonville. Formerly known as Mill Cove, Hampton Golf renovated the entire facility, including the clubhouse. Golfers can come as they are (no golf attire required), check in at the newly renovated sports bar and even pay for and play as few as three holes depending on the time of day.
Video: Matt Ginella on where to play golf around Jacksonville
A few more for the money
If you're really looking to spread that $500 around, the Jacksonville area is a great place to do it because there are dozens of courses in the $50 range.
In Saint Augustine, for example, there's St. John's Golf & Country Club, a very well maintained Clyde Johnson design with plenty of water and challenge that can be played for a little more than $50.
Oddly enough, there's also a St. John's Golf Club on the south end of the Saint Augustine, except it's owned by the county. For a little more than $30, it's a great layout and also a championship test, so there's our first $100 right there.
Which means we have $400 left, and you could play all of the following and still have plenty of money left over for a fancy dinner and drinks.
For a little more than a $100, you can play the combination of The Champions Club at Julington Creek and Windsor Parke Golf Club. Julington Creek was designed and owned by PGA Professional Steve Melnyk, and the Arthur Hills-designed Windsor Parke Golf Club is only minutes from the Jacksonville International Airport.
For another $50 or so, you can play the Country Club of Orange Park, which provides a scenic challenge with a diverse landscape of protected wetlands and towering oak trees. And for around $30, check out Jacksonville Beach Golf Club, which was built in 1959 and originally designed by Sam Snead.
And, finally, be sure to check out historic Hyde Park Golf Club, a terrific Donald Ross design that opened in 1925 and played host to the PGA Tour's Jacksonville Open in the 1950s. It's also where Ben Hogan once made an 11 on the par-3 seventh hole. And while Hyde Park won't be the best-conditioned course you'll play on a trip to Jacksonville, it's certainly memorable and will cost less than $40 to play.