A 7,100-yarder with a par of 72, the course at Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club represents the design vision of famed PGA Tour champion Greg Norman, nicknamed “The Shark” for his tendency to chew a course's grass before deciding to play it. Norman’s own turf company supplied the hybrid Bermudagrass tees, fairways, and rough for the course, while Floradwarf constitutes the gently undulating and generously rewarding putting surfaces. This greenery is surrounded by native prairie grasses, wetlands, and wildflowers as well as a majestic hardwood forest.
Before tackling the course, players can bring their game up to speed at the club’s Player Development Center. The same GN-1 turf featured out on the course covers the tee areas at the driving range as well as the pitching greens and practice fairway. And all areas are stocked with towels and fresh water for drinking or dumping on your instructor when your swing finally clicks.
Those who can't do, teach?or so the old adage goes. Not so with JJ Wood and Bruce Olson, coaches at Pecan Grove Plantation Country Club's Wood & Olson Golf Performance academy. As players the duo boasts some pretty impressive resumes, including a stint as a varsity golfer at Pepperdine University for JJ and coaching a third-place finisher at the 2000 Shell Houston Open for Bruce, among many other accolades.
It's this extensive background as players that has led to the formation of their teaching philosophies. When they take a student under their wing, they assess the entirety of the player's game?from mental approach to physical conditioning to unyielding devotion to a single pair of lucky socks. They then craft a training program uniquely suited to his or her skills, filled with such components as video analysis of the full swing, practice with reading greens, and golf-specific physical training. The approach clearly works: past students have gone on to earn golf scholarships at schools such as Notre Dame, the University of Texas, and UC Santa Barbara, in addition to taking home several state and club championships.
At Tilt Studio, black lights shine down on mini golfers playing 18 holes, the glow of neon green, pink, and orange fixtures lighting up their faces. Paintings of grinning roller-coaster riders look down on them as they shoot for hole-in-ones, sending balls flying beneath a bright blue replica of the Eiffel Tower. In the jungle-themed laser-tag arena, players duck behind mock rocks and hide in the shadows beneath luminescent images of twisting pythons and laser-toting apes. This jungle theme extends into the arcade, where players will see a snarling King Kong picking a helicopter out of the air. By filling their space with neon and larger-than-life decor, Tilt Studio transports patrons to another world, much like the elevator that connects Earth and Mars.
With the sound of fast-approaching engines roaring in your ear, you jam your foot down even harder on the gas pedal and narrow your eyes at the upcoming left-hand turn, determined not to let up even for an instant. If you do, there’s a good chance that your new view will consist of your competition gloating triumphantly while they zip past you on the track. You may only be driving a GT-5 Sodikart, and not a tricked-out racecar, but you absolutely refuse to let any of the other adult or—gulp—junior drivers beat you.
Track 21 lets speed-demons careen around one of three indoor go-kart tracks at speeds of up to 40 mph as they try to edge past other karts, competing with fellow birthday partiers or coworkers to reach the finish line before it decides to become a finish wall. In case competition gets too fierce, the karts are surrounded by heavy nylon bumpers and rubber blocks designed to absorb impact from all sides.
Friendly rivalries continue on foot inside Area 21, a two-story laser-tag battleground beset with fog, obstacles, and space-age scenery. Sharpshooters zap each other's targets in pursuit of a grander mission, such as capturing the opposing base or stealing the enemy's supply of light, before matches end and scores are tallied on a stats sheet. Glowing decor also illuminates a jungle-themed nine-hole mini-golf course, where gorilla and lion statues bask in the black lights. Track 21’s arcade demands timing and button-smashing dexterity from gamers, and a track-side casino sets up rounds of blackjack, poker, and craps.
Whether by land, water, or skee-ball chute, Zuma Fun Center packs attractions that entertain family members of all ages. Siblings enjoy friendly competition while trading putts across mountain-adventure mini-golf courses lined with waterfall, or while trading paint around the corners of the outdoor go-kart track. The bumper-boat pool gives parents and kids the chance to ram repeatedly into one another in open waters, just like the pilgrims did when racing to discover America. The fun center's video arcade also draws guests inside to deposit tokens into air-hockey tables, redemption-ticket games, and a spread of classic and new game cabinets.
Designed by famed course architects Arthur Hills and Mike Dasher, Sienna Plantation Golf Club's frequent elevation changes transform the flat landscape into rolling waves of green. These undulations are only the beginning of the challenges players face. On hole two, the narrow fairway and sand bunkers form a perfect storm of difficulty, forcing golfers to thread the needle or risk taking an unplanned trip to the beach. Elsewhere, flowing creeks wind around holes 16 and 17, where the promise of a rewarding score tempts players to take precise shots close to the water's edge. Live oaks and mature cedar elms along the fairways provide both scenic views of nature's beauty and ample shade for treating caddies to a picnic lunch.
Course at a Glance: