Friday, December 25, 2020

Florida Winter Trip

My last excursion in 2020 took me to a familiar destination, Central Florida, my home away from home as it is starting to feel like.  This trip was a little different though, because I was able to play the courses at the World Golf Village in Northern Florida for the first time, and play a couple courses on Sea Island that I had been trying to play for a while.  


The trip began at the aforementioned World Golf Village, home to the World Golf Hall of Fame and two solid golf courses.  First up was the Slammer & The Squire named for Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen.  

Slammer & Squire, Looking back on par four 18th hole

Next up was the other course at the Village, the King & The Bear, obviously named for and designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.  

King & Bear, par three 7th hole

Day two brought me to my favorite place in Florida, Streamsong Resort.  I have mentioned Streamsong many times in these blog posts and will continue to mention it because the Blue and Red courses are just about perfect.  Streamsong's original plan was to re-grass the Blue greens this year and the Red next year, but when Covid hit they made the very smart decision to go ahead and re-grass both this year.  The results are spectacular.  

Streamsong Blue with freshly re-grassed greens.

This trip was particularly special because after 50+ rounds at Streamsong, I was finally able to play one of the courses first out by myself.  It is always a magical experience to be first out walking on a great course, and my foggy morning on the Red course was one of those experiences.

Streamsong Red, par three 8th hole in the fog

After my tremendous round on the Red, I took on the Black course for only the second time ever.  The Black was designed by Gil Hanse and is very unique for its absurdly large greens.  The Black's greens comprise 11 acres, while the total for the Red & Blue greens together is 8 acres.

Streamsong Black, par three 5th hole

The third day of the trip my buddy and I headed to the Lakewood Ranch area for rounds at Lakewood National and Esplanade.  First up was the Commander course at Lakewood National, the biggest surprise of the trip.  Designer Brandon Johnson did a magnificent job of incorporating classic design elements into a modern course with typical Florida topography.


Lakewood National Commander Course, par three 4th hole

We headed over to the newer Piper course at Lakewood National for our next round, also designed by Brandon Johnson, with some fun classic elements like a double plateau green.

Lakewood National Piper Course, par three 4th hole

Our day concluded at the newly opened Esplanade Golf & Country Club at Lakewood Ranch, designed by Chris Wilczynski.

Esplanade, par three 4th hole

The fourth day started with a welcome addition to my Ross portfolio.  Now 221 and counting, New Smyrna Beach Golf Club.  Another fine example of Ross' routing genius, the tight property features some characteristically undulating greens that are a ton of fun.


New Smyrna Beach Golf Club, par three 3rd hole

After a wonderful morning walk at New Smyrna, I headed north to Georgia to play the Plantation course at Sea Island.  I played the Retreat course at Sea Island on my last trip to Florida, and the Seaside fourteen years ago.  I was very excited to see the newly renovated Plantation course for the first time.

Sea Island Plantation, par three 11th hole

I stayed in Sea Island for day five of the trip, which began at the Tom Fazio designed Frederica Golf Club, home to many PGA Tour Professionals.  The course features greens that are much bigger and more undulating than the normal Fazio design. 

Frederica Golf Club, par five 18th hole from behind

That's a wrap for 2020.  130 new courses.  180 total rounds in 15 states.  Be on the lookout for my 2020 year in review coming soon.

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