Sculpted in the lush scenery of George T. Bagby State Park by golf architect Willard Byrd, Meadow Links’ 18-hole, 7,007-yard course unfurls a tapestry of emerald fairways, golden-brown rough, and cerulean waters. Club-toting twosomes can loosen up for the round with a stint at the driving range, where a stash of obedient practice spheres launch themselves into the stratosphere and withhold judgment of players clashing argyle with plaid. The course’s bucolic hills crest behind the tenth green, where players can recapitulate their conquest of the 402-yard par-4 hole in the shade of two pecan trees, a pear tree, and a bush that blooms with divot-repair tools. The relatively difficult links-style course challenges golfers with an omnipresent array of round sand traps and water hazards in play on five holes, though four generous tee options make the course surmountable for duffers of all abilities.
Valley Pines Golf Club challenges golfers with its nine-hole, par 35 course, stretching 2,499 yards from the longest of its four tee positions and composed to test a player's precision golf game. The David McQuary–designed course presents fairway trekkers with a manicured landscape dotted with perilous water hazards. One hole features a true island green—similar to the TPC at Sawgrass's signature 17th hole—that challenges golfers to airmail their shots over the moat and onto the island, where it will join a marooned, heavily bearded Tom Hanks.
Although comparable in length and difficulty, River Pointe Golf Club's front and back nines present two distinct challenges. The front eases golfers into the round with a traditional layout interspersed with only occasional water hazards. The second act could be traversed as easily by canoe as it is by cart. Built around wetlands, the back puts water into play on the majority of holes, where golfers will often catch views of passing alligators, turkeys, foxes, and other wildlife.
Course at a Glance:
Designed by the late Dean Refram, a former PGA Tour pro and course architect who worked with Arnold Palmer, The Golf Club at Summerbrooke's 18-hole, par 72 course bounds over a diverse landscape of rolling hills, dense groves of trees, and waterways and ravines. Measuring 6,845 yards from the farthest tees, the course begins with a relatively open, par 4 first hole, graciously letting duffers find their groove before hitting into tighter fairways and treacherous tree lines. An 80-foot-deep ravine surrounds the green of the par 3 15th, which marks the beginning of the three-hole Contemplation Corner, a climactic gauntlet that challenges clubbers with forced carries, bottomless ravines, and burbling water hazards. A relaxing finishing hole, the par 5 18th settles the nerves, letting golfers swing freely as their pin-hunting odyssey draws to a close.
Course at a Glance:
Golfers drive, chip, and putt their way across Hilaman Golf Course, a 30-year-old, par 72 layout that spans 6,333 yards of player-friendly terrain. On most holes, players look out onto wide, unobstructed fairways that invite them to swing freely with their driver or steer their golf cart blindfolded. Water comes into play on multiple holes—a small pond sits directly in front of the fourth green, and holes 11–16 strategically wrap around two large water hazards to make the back nine slightly more challenging. The course complements its 18 holes with a restaurant that serves up sandwiches and salads, a driving range for golfers to hone their game, and four tennis courts where players can learn how to hit short irons off of asphalt.
Course at a Glance:
Renovated in 1998, Jake Gaither Golf Course is a nine-hole, par 36 playground where golfers can take careful aim at distant flags and tiptoe across rolling fairways and greens to sneak up on holes-in-one. After partnering with a friend or borrowing a complete stranger, cruise the grounds in a cart while keeping watch for views of elusive birdies and eagles in their natural environment. A pair of three-ball sleeves arms players with the knowledge that the round will continue even if a few of their dimpled orbs happen to drown in a water hazard, and the facility’s practice putting area allows for pregame warm-ups to prepare for peppering greens with a variety of shots fired straight from the hips like a racketeering belly-dancer.