Nestled in the scenic shadows of the Smoky Mountains, Bent Creek Golf Course's 18-hole layout stretches across 6,182 yards of fairways that rise and fall among rolling foothills and pristine valleys. Golf legend and course designer Gary Player made deft use of a babbling mountain stream by running it through the course and seamlessly uniting two distinct nines: a front nine that sprawls across the valley floor and a back nine that roams the hilly mountainside like a forlorn sasquatch. The overall effect is a course that does justice to both the sheer scope of the rising peaks with bottom-up views and the panoramic splendor of Great Smoky Mountains National Park when seen from the cresting hilltops of the back-nine. The inventive layout is perhaps best characterized by the 11th hole, a 362-yard par 4 where a 90-degree dogleg-left plays into a green completely surrounded by the creek's rippling waters. A blend of bent and bermuda grasses grows resiliently for golfers striving to play all year-round, and fragrant wildflowers blossom at every tee to warm the hearts of world-weary nine-irons.
Bent Creek bolsters the pin-hunting prowess of its golfers with a staff of PGA-certified instructors that conducts lessons and presides over the domain of their full-service pro shop. A practice putting green helps players trim their score by reading dicey slopes, and the Creek Side Grill hosts postround revelry and community gatherings to decry the historical hardships of the mashie niblick.:m]]
Course at a Glance: * Designed by three-time Masters and British Open Champion Gary Player * Bermuda-and-bent-grass combination * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,182 yards from the farthest tees * Three tee options * Link to scorecard
A year before her death in 1959, Ninah Cummer—an art collector, garden enthusiast, and civic leader—donated her riverfront home and art collection to the community, imploring her fellow citizens to help support the foundation of an art museum. In less than 10 years, the board of trustees transformed the abode into the verdant Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, adding to Ninah's original gift of 60 pieces until the collection included nearly 1,000 works of art.
Today, the permanent collection holds pieces that span more than four millennia, from 2,100 B.C. to the 21st century. An ancient Egyptian stone tablet intrigues viewers with cryptic hieroglyphs and stylized portraits while, nearby, Peter Paul Rubens' The Lamentation of Christ epitomizes the colorful, sweepingly histrionic style of the Baroque painters. American treasures include Gilbert Stuart's iconic portrait of George Washington—one of over 100 he painted in an attempt to perfect the likeness of the first president and design a killer mask for the White House Halloween party.
After getting their fill of indoor beauty, guests can head to the open air and vibrant scenery of the museum's gardens. Begun more than a century ago, the gardens crisscross with winding paths that take guests under the canopies of majestic oaks and alongside the Italian garden's shimmering reflecting pools.
When the Jacksonville Zoo first opened in 1914, it had only one attraction––a red fawn. Today, nearly a century later, it’s home to more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plant species, and welcomes an ever-changing lineup of visiting exhibits. Guests stroll along the boardwalk in a large, open environment called the Plains of East Africa, where cheetah, antelope, and warthogs roam in environs that simulate their native habitat. The African loop also includes Elephant Plaza, where elephants stir up tidal waves playing marco polo in a 275,000-gallon pool. Visitors can also pet and feed stingrays, stand eye-to-eye with a giraffe, and head to the award-winning Range of the Jaguar exhibit to roam a replica of an abandoned Mayan temple. During summer months, kids get wet at the Play Park and Splash Ground, where they can climb into a treehouse or peer through an underwater window to see penguins swimming overhead.
After guests explore the wildlife, rest and relaxation await within botanical gardens such as the Asian Bamboo garden, where patrons cross a traditional moon gate to see a tranquil waterfall, komodo dragons, and an interactive bamboo mist forest. The zoo also features a carousel, train rides, and several restaurants where humans can tap into their own wild instincts by hunting their natural prey—the sandwich.
My Gym children's fitness center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 25 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. With a dedication to imparting the benefits and fun of fitness, the affable, energetic crew of teachers and supervisors at the Jacksonville branch employs their expertise in music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while simultaneously stimulating their giggleplexes. Classes are organized according to age level—starting as young as 6 weeks—and are designed to incorporate the latest physiological, psychological, and meteorological research. My Gym’s curriculum includes structured classes for all developmental degrees, from Tiny Tykes, a class for parents and babies that focuses on movement, to Whiz Kids and Champions, classes designed for elementary-aged kids to master motor, sports, and gymnastics skills. One-hour free-play sessions enable children to engage in unstructured, parent-supervised frolics on the activity-filled premises.
My Jax Golf operates on the philosophy that there are many ways to swing a club. Each lesson and teaching approach strive to help students develop a consistent, dependable swing true to their form and athletic abilities. The junior academy focuses on educating students in the fundamentals of golf while developing skills in a safe and fun environment. Not to be confused with Purchasing Golf Accessories, adult lessons adhere to the PGA process of acquiring a perfect swing—correct Posture, club Gripping, and body Alignment—while emphasizing the putting, chipping, and wedging maneuvers of the short game.
The learning center also offers specialized lessons with TPI-certified professional Tom Long, who employs the use of video analysis while conducting swing-sequencing lessons. This technology displays an unwavering digital perspective on the student’s swing while churning up a custom report that analyzes fitness levels, posture, and movement. An accompanying fitness regimen sculpts mortal physiques into golf-ball-swatting machines and golf-cart-racing iron men.:m]]
At the tee box on Cimarrone Golf Club's 12th hole, golfers face a dilemma: play a drive safely out to the right—where, at worst, the ball may stray into the rough—or attempt an aggressive shot over the water on the hole's left side, cutting off much of the dogleg and setting up a closer approach. With multiple bending fairways, deep bunkers, and a water hazard or marsh feature on every hole, the 18-hole, 6,891-yard course presents high-risk, high-reward scenarios at nearly every turn, delighting golfers who like to live dangerously and favoring those whose sand wedge moonlights as an actuary.
Before rounds, golfers can warm up swings at the club's driving range, a much-needed confidence booster before taking to the water-laden course or betting that they can outdrive the staff's resident T-shirt cannon.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,891 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 73.5 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 137 from the farthest tees * Five tee options * Scorecard