Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Golf Village 'Awesome' but Often Idle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Golf Village 'Awesome' but Often Idle

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

I suspect I'm a typical First Coast resident in that I can count on one hand the number of times I've visited the World Golf Village since its official opening in May 1998.

I've been through the World Golf Hall of Fame once and was really impressed, though not impressed enough to spend the $10 and the several hours a return visit would entail. I've seen several movies at the Imax theater. Each time I was dazzled. But 30 minutes from downtown Jacksonville is a long drive to see a movie when I've got more than a hundred cable channels and there's a Blockbuster Video I drive by every day.

The fact I don't go more often isn't, as I said, unusual, though I'm sure it's disappointing to the people, including the PGA Tour, who invested time and money into the World Golf Village.

When it opened, there were expectations that visitors would flock to the place. One St. Johns County official told the Times-Union that when she looked at the World Golf Village, what she saw was Epcot.

That hasn't happened. While the complex keeps adding new features, most recently a golf academy, many of the shops in the complex have closed due to lack of foot traffic and, in August, the staff selling time shares for the 102-unit Sheraton Vistana Resort was laid off.

So I was curious to talk to my brother and his colleagues, who are at the World Golf Village this week, so I could get their impressions of the place, which is hosting the 2002 golf tournament of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

Golf course superintendents, like my brother Bill, who is superintendent at Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C., are the people in charge of the care and feeding of a golf course. Essentially, they are business executives, even if most of them spend too much time in the sun and avoid coats and ties as much as possible. …

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