Tree Tops Golf curates competitive fun and practice at a sprawling facility that encompasses a driving range, a miniature golf course, and batting cages. Airborne golf shots take flight at the driving range, where grass tees appeal to those who prefer a natural feel and artificial hitting mats cater to prima donna pitching wedges that demand a perfect lie every time.
A canopy of vibrant palms forms cool shadows over the 18-hole mini-golf course as putters tap orbs across a winding circuit of artificial turf lined with brick rails and rocky outcrops. Two Iron Mike pitching machines lob high-arching, slow-pitch softballs in two batting cages, helping batters to prepare for their next opportunity to ruin a water-balloon-toss competition.
Deer Island Country Club's 18-hole course is covered in course architect Joe Lee's fingerprints?or, more accurately, his finger-style bunkers. The renowned designer's signature sandtraps?known for their sinuous shapes that spread into multiple "fingers"?are showcased throughout the course, clutching the edges of fairways and greens, ready to ensnare golfers' misfires or speeding golf carts.
Sometimes, however, finding a sandtrap is a blessing in disguise, as many bunkers serve as a final collection area between dry land and the lakes and wetlands that come into play on nearly every hole. Though hazardous to golfers or caddies without life jackets, the wetlands sustain a bustling ecosystem that includes alligators, bobcats, and even a family of six bald eagles, which dwells in the pine trees that line the 18th hole.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course designed by Joe Lee * Length of 6,852 yards from the tips * Course rating of 73.8 from the tips * Slope rating of 133 from the tips * Six tee options * Scorecard
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.
Rainbow's End Golf Club's nine-hole fairway chain rolls across 2,883 yards for a par-36 layout. Rounds begin with a 445-yard par 5, where a drive that bisects the tree-lined corridor should set up a favorable opportunity to glue another birdie-celebrating rhinestone on your putter. A relatively open and player-friendly layout, the bulk of the course's difficulty stems from 50 feet of overall elevation changes, which can set up tricky shots toward downhill or elevated targets. The club also encompasses a driving range and a pro shop that offers golf equipment, apparel, and club repair for shafts snapped in frustration about unfulfilling TV series finales.
Course at a Glance:
Bermuda grass carpets the 18-hole course at Marion Oaks Country Club, but not all bermuda grasses are made the same. The club's grounds crew has gone the extra yard on all 7,031 yards, landscaping putting surfaces with a strain of grass that allows for a more predictable ball roll. Upon completion of a round, players can retire to the clubhouse, where they'll find a screened-in patio and a pro shop stocked with irons, woods, and argyle face paint.
A sprawling par 72 championship golf course challenges golfers to traverse its bermuda-grass greens and fairways. The course includes several elevation changes and provides sterling views of Ocala and its surroundings along the way. Novice golfers can brush up on their game with instruction from the club's golf pros, and experienced players can stock up on balls and apparel at the pro shop or refuel at the snack bar after their round.