Renowned golf-course architect Bobby Weed aims to fill his courses with the kind of rich details typically produced only by Mother Nature herself. His 2008 overhaul of The Deltona Club completely transformed the course: today, blowout-style native-sand bunkers bear roughly scalloped edges that call to mind a raw desert landscape, and the elevation rises in craggy steps as the course progresses, giving players a sense of conquering the land itself. The course's resulting beauty, sense of challenge, and secret bonus level snagged the club a spot on Golfweek's list of best Florida courses in 2012.
Nestled in the shadows of towering trees, golfers traverse the arboreal alleyways of DeLand Country Club’s course across 18 holes of challenging golf. Throughout the course, mature oaks and pines stalk the edges of fairways, flexing their branches ominously and making menacing shadow puppets with their twiggy fingers in an attempt to break the focus of golfers. The subtle slopes of the rolling course place a high premium on golfers’ capacity to cleanly strike balls off of uneven surfaces, and greenside bunkers wait to ensnare off-kilter shots. Club-toting twosomes can loop the 18-hole course astride an efficient golf cart, which helps hunt down balls while proffering incisive commentary about the universally strained relationship between carts and caddies.
After changing owners a number of times, including separate stints in the hands of a Confederate Civil War general and a retired sea captain, the 152-acre plot of Mayfair Country Club was bought by the city of Sanford in 1922. The city quickly built four holes around the beautiful citrus trees and double row of oak trees, opening for business that same year under the title Sanford Country Club. By 1924, an 18-hole course opened and began to attract big-name golfers, including Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen.
Unfortunately, the course’s upkeep was neglected during the nation's Great Golf-Ball Shortage. After the Depression passed, a small group of investors renovated the course and reopened it in 1945 under the name Seminole Country Club. The course wouldn’t be called the Mayfair Country Club until the late 1940s, when it was acquired by the NFL's New York Giants, a development that led to the course's hosting of PGA tour events from 1955 to 1957 and regular visits from legends such as Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer.
Today, players can walk the same fairways as the game's greats while grappling with the course’s difficult layout, named a Best Course to Play by Golf Digest. Opportunities for high-risk, high-reward shots abound, as two of the four par 5s measure less than 450 yards and the fairways remain as wide and inviting as they were in 1922, having managed to avoid growing thin and feeble with old age.
Course at a Glance:
Each day, golf carts trundle over wooden bridges, their wheels thwacking against each plank as they cross the myriad waterways that dot Alaqua Country Club's 18-hole layout. Designed by golf legend Gary Player, the 6,662-yard course is sculpted through tunnels of 55-foot trees and incorporates water hazards that come into play on 16 holes. One shining example is the par 3 hole 13 with an island green that tests golfers' iron play and ability to use those same clubs to fight off feral caddies that use flagsticks as swords. Surrounded by the Lower Wekiva Preserve State Park, the course enchants golfers with palms draped in billowing spanish moss and occasional sightings of deer and wild turkeys.
Alaqua Country Club's new, adobe-accented clubhouse offers weekly dining specials served to tables draped in white linens, where guests can unwind after rounds or fold burgundy napkins into festive new club head covers.
Designed by renowned course architect Pete Dye in 1995, Black Bear Golf Club's 18-hole, par 72 layout showcases all the calling cards of a masterfully crafted golf course. With mounded fairways, tight landing zones, and more than 120 natural sand traps, the course—which stretches more than 7,000 yards from the tips—presents a traditional links-style layout with the favorable climate and alligator forecaddies native to Central Florida. Dye's affinity for dramatic finishing holes comes into play throughout the course. A well-bunkered, tree-lined par 4, the 9th hole is the course's second-hardest, and the 18th hole is the course's most difficult, demanding that golfers finish strong by overcoming an obscured tee shot on their way to a green guarded by a pond. A challenge for golfers of all skill levels, Black Bear has hosted multiple U.S. Amateur and Canadian Tour events.
Fostering practice as well as on-course play, Black Bear boasts a grass tee, a double-ended driving range, and a 40,000-square-foot short-game-practice area. With a menu of casual grill fare, The Bear's Den invites golfers to unwind after their days at the links and test out their divot tools' utility as fill-ins for forks.
Sweetwater Golf & Country Club's 18-hole Highlands Course weaves over 6,771 yards of fairways and greens stitched by mature oaks. The player-friendly, par 72 course puts clubbers face to face with the Loch Ness Monster—which is the name bestowed upon the course's signature hole, a 625-yard par five that double-doglegs around a lake. Golfers can prepare for their round with a stint at the club's driving range, where practice balls await to be launched in the stratosphere while commenting on the tense relationship between golf balls and sheets of glass. The club fosters more competitive fun at its tennis complex, which boasts eight lighted, outdoor Har-Tru—green clay—tennis courts.
After a day spent reading putts or thrashing forehands, guests can unwind at one of the club's three dining facilities. The relaxed vibes of the Fife & Drum Pub and the Carnoustie Café welcome casually-clad guests fresh off the course, and the more formal, chandelier-lit confines of the Highlands Dining Room provides an apropos backdrop for dinner parties or a romantic setting for date night for golfers and their caddy.
High-tech golf learning center utilizing high speed video and motion sensing technology to analyze all aspects of the golfers swing. This, coupled with, the ability to review lessons via Internet access and compare your swing to over 200 PGA, Champions and LPGA tour professionals.