Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 18
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 18
The 18th green of the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort shimmers in the morning sunrise. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Images
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 1
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 1
The Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort starts off with a par-4 that bends right. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - 7th
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - 7th
The setting around the seventh green at the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort is beautiful. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 4
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 4
The fourth hole at the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort is a long par 5 along water. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 8
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 8
An island green makes the eighth at the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort a troublesome task. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 12
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 12
This cross bunker on the Conservatory's par-3 12th is more for looks than actual play. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 15
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 15
The natural beauty of the 15th hole of the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort is stunning. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 17
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Conservatory golf course - Hammock Beach Resort - hole 17
The 17th hole at the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort climbs skyward to an elevated green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort - clubhouse
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Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort - clubhouse
No expense was spared to build the clubhouse for the Conservatory at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

Conservatory golf course at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida deserves more praise

PALM COAST, Fla. -- The Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach Resort could be golf's greatest one-hit wonder. This Tom Watson design hosted a PGA Tour event just once -- the ill-fated Ginn sur Mer Classic in 2008.

Blame it on the financial collapse of the sponsor that the pros never returned, not the quality of the layout. Hammock Beach Resort's Ocean Course by Jack Nicklaus might get more publicity, as it hugs the beach and the Atlantic. But the Conservatory probably remains the better golf course, at least strategically.

The Watson design could host a PGA Tour event tomorrow if necessary. Everything's in place. This masterpiece stretches to 7,776 yards, making it the longest course in Florida. Even more than length, the Conservatory plays like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that takes time and thought to solve.

Watson peppered it with more than 140 bunkers, including three sod-faced bunkers as a tribute to his love of links golf. The layout's natural setting and rolling site -- not to mention its par-3 island green at no. 8 -- would look great on HDTV. And even the pros would feel spoiled inside the palatial Mediterranean-themed clubhouse.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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