With its year-round balmy weather, Northeast Florida is a bonanza for sports enthusiasts. Enjoy football frenzy with the home team in the fall when the Jacksonville Jaguars take to the field. In addition, each year Jacksonville hosts college match-ups such as the Florida/Georgia game and the Toyota Gator Bowl. Jacksonville has also been home to the ACC Championship Game for the last two years and the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 2006.
Be one of the many fans cheering the Jacksonville Suns when they play 70 home games a year in their red brick Camden Yards-style park. The first coast is also the site for the Bausch and Lomb women’s professional tennis tournament held each spring on Amelia Island. And, with water everywhere, you’ll find excellent fishing and water sports of every kind.
Follow golf greats at the Tournament Players Championship held annually at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. With almost 60 courses and 1,100 holes in the seven-county area, the First Coast is a golfer’s paradise. Florida has more golf courses than any other state and its reputation is grounded in two key factors: The Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass is home to the PGA Tour headquarters, and the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Johns County is a destination attraction. And, not only do golf legends live and play here, they design some of the best golf amenities we offer. Arnold Palmer (“The King”) and Jack Nicklaus (“The Bear”) designed the signature hole of the King & Bear course at World Golf Village.
Since its start in 1974, the Tournament Players Championship (TPC), now known as the PLAYERS, has been an important golf event. Golf greats Jack Nicklaus, J.C. Snead, Jerry Pate, David Duval, Tiger Woods and last year’s winner Fred Funk, are just a few to take a swing at what some say is a “diabolical” course.
At the end of the 2006 The PLAYERS, the signature course received a face lift that includes new irrigation, new drainage, new grass types and tree replacement. But, this famous course, renowned for its difficulty and island, 17th hole, will essentially remain unchanged in character and landscape. A new, $17 million clubhouse is also part of the renovations.
The area offers the perfect climate for tennis buffs. There are many clubs as well as private and public teams throughout Northeast Florida. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) is headquartered here and the ATP Tennis Club sponsors two tournaments each year.
Ranked one of the best cities for runners by Runner’s World , Jacksonville hosts the Gate River Run , the official USA 15K National Championship each year in March, attracting nearly 8,000 runners who compete for the $10,000 first prize.
From the St. Johns River to the Intracoastal Waterway to the miles of beaches, there are many places to enjoy your favorite pastime, whether it’s boating, sailing, kayaking, surfing, canoeing or fishing.
Northeast Florida is an angler’s dream, and there are many spots to throw out your line. Jacksonville’s urban ponds are scattered throughout the city and feature bank fishing for freshwater fish like bream, bass and catfish. For salt-water fishing, the Nassau Sound Pier is a great spot. The world record, a 20-pound, 9-ounce flounder, was caught on the pier.
Drop your line from the bow of your boat at one of the growing number of boat ramps at area parks throughout the city.
If it’s deep-sea fishing you seek, charters are available at Fernandina, Mayport and St. Augustine, as well as from some marinas along the Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Johns River. The charter boats make it easy to enjoy offshore fishing — the boat, captain, license, tackle and bait are part of the package. Cast your line for grouper, snapper, amberjack, cobia, beeliners and sea bass.
Fishermen throughout the region get hooked during the annual BellSouth Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament held at Sisters Creek Park in July along with the Seafood and Music Festival.
From boats, bridges, shore or surf, there are plenty of opportunities to catch the big ones. But you will need a fishing license. Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (888) 347-4356 for details and fees. All licenses are available from the county tax collectors’ offices and sub-agents located at tackle shops, fish camps, hardware stores and sporting goods stores.
The Northeast Florida region is rich with a great sports tradition. As home of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl and the annual Florida-Georgia football game, the area took the international spotlight in 2005 as host of Super Bowl XXXIX. Besides football, Jacksonville also hosts national golf, tennis and baseball events throughout the year. The region has over 70 public and private courses to choose from including 1,224 holes of golf. Unique sporting adventures await thrill seekers with surfing, kayaking and skateboarding opportunities throughout the area. Combine our sporting assets with our warm climate and Jacksonville and the beaches is a sportsman’s paradise.
Only minutes away from the urban sophistication of Jacksonville’s vibrant city center, a natural wonderland awaits observation and discovery. A testament to the untouched beauty of the region and a reflection of the unique authenticity of the Northeast Florida experience, the abundant expanse of park land and ecological preserves in Jacksonville provide an unforgettable opportunity to escape the confines of city life and relax in nature’s playground. With over 111,600 designated acres, including the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve , Jacksonville proudly boasts the largest urban park system in the country.