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: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,403 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.3 from the back tees * Course slope of 123 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
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.
In 1917, toward the end of WWI, the greens of Winter Park Country Club’s golf course echoed with baaing and bleating. In response to the wartime meat shortage, golfer cleats had given way to hooves: the course’s links, designed by John Dunn of Scotland just 17 years earlier, became grazing pastures for sheep and goats.
This was just one of many course reinventions during its more than 100 years of history, which has seen Winter Park’s fairways expand from 9 to 27 and shrink back to 9 again. Perhaps the course's greatest claim to fame has been the legendary figures who have graced its narrow, tree-hampered fairways, including players with surnames such as Hogan, Snead, and Sarazen.
Players of all stripes, from greenhorns to green-jacket holders, must deal with difficult design and terrain, as showcased on the course’s signature fourth hole, whose dogleg left and tight out-of-bounds areas lead a troubling path to a green situated behind two large bunkers and a massive oak tree. The biggest challenge, however, may reside on the par 3 seventh hole, whose deceptively simple 165-yard length leads into a hard-to-read green with a shape-shifting flagstick.
Course at a Glance:
Nine-hole, par 35 course
Length of 2,470 yards
Course rating of 31.8
Slope rating of 102 on bermuda grass
See hole details
The 18-hole course at Winter Pines Golf Club was first drawn up in 1968, and continues to surround golfers in a Technicolor terrarium marked by brightly flowered landscapes and deep emerald turf as it celebrates its 45th birthday. The front nine presents a traditional, par 36 layout that stretches to 3,026 yards, complete with two par 5s just upwards of 470 yards apiece but still well southwards of the 100,000-yard distance at which holes can apply for statehood. Golfers having trouble with the par 5s will find a respite on a par 31 back nine stocked with five par 3s—including four in a row from holes 14 through 17. Those hoping that these indicate can-of-corn iron shots and no-hands aces will come to a rude awakening, however, when they find themselves staring down tee shots of more than 210 yards on holes 12, 15, and 17.
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.
When picking the location for the championship course at Zellwood Station Golf Club, architect George Maddox discovered hilly terrain not often seen at Floridian links. He made the most of this undulating ground as he designed four doglegs that loop around a dry lake, nicknamed Crater Junction, and also devised a treacherous ninth hole. Known as the Train Wreck, this obstacle is infamous for its long fairway and sharp dogleg left. Today, head golf professional Christopher C. Tyler presides over the course?s bermuda-grass fairways and its expansive greens, which putt fast and true. Before facing down the landscape, golfers can figure out which of their balls are afraid of heights by sending them flying from one of a dozen hitting stations at the driving range.
Despite its impressive course and welcoming clubhouse, Zellwood Station Golf Club isn?t resting on its laurels; the club has plans to debut four new holes, a 10,000-square-foot practice chipping-and-putting facility, and a new driving range before the end of 2012.