Kingsway Country Club – A Must Play, From Sarasota To Naples
If you’re looking to play a great golf course with a country club feel at daily fee rates, I suggest giving Kingsway Country Club in Lake Suzy, FL. The course is conveniently located less than a mile from I-75 just off exit 170, minutes away from Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, an area of the state that is very popular for both retirement and relocation.
The first thing you see when you arrive at the property is the clubhouse, an 18,000-square foot Old Florida style building with a lot of class. Inside is a large grille room with multiple large, flat screen TVs to catch all your favorite sporting events, a game room and a very elegant dining room, where you can have an intimate dinner party for that special someone or host a gala event. Kingsway’s outside verandah is also a great place to relax and enjoy a cold one after your round.
Before your round, you owe it to your golf game to warm up on Kingsway’s spacious driving range. Here you’ll find an unlimited supply of range balls, an excellent short game area with a chipping green and practice bunker and a massive practice green. You will find that the practice facility is as meticulously maintained as the golf course; you may just feel like spending the day on the range.
Kingsway Country Club originally opened in 1976 and in 2005 went through a complete redesign by golf course architects Ron Garl and Chip Powell. From the back tees, the course plays 7,001 yards with a course rating of 75.0 and a slope of 137. With six sets of tees to choose from, golfers of all abilities can play from a yardage they are comfortable with. I found that Tee No. 3 (6,129/71.6/131) provided a very fitting challenge.
One of the nice things about this course is the proximity of the greens to the next tee box, a fancy way of saying this course is easy to walk. And many players take full advantage of that, especially during the season. Even with walkers, it’s still easy to get around the course in a little more than 4 hours.
Favorite Hole: Number 12, 335 yards (Tee Number 3): When Ron Garl redesigned the Kingsway Country Club course, he totally redesigned Number 12. What you have now is a short par 4 that demands accuracy off the tee and then forces you to carry the green on your approach. There is a large waste area down the left side which ends as the fairway starts to slope downward. Off the tee, carry the waste area where it meanders into the fairway and avoid the two pot bunkers on the right, and you’ll leave yourself a short pitch shot to a small, elevated green surrounded in front by sand. Although this is the shortest par 4 on the course, it is by no means a pushover.
Favorite Par 3: Number 16, 144 yards (Tee Number 3). The key to doing your best on this hole is to hit a high tee shot that lands soft and sticks. The first order of business off the tee is to clear the water and carry the bunker that fronts the green. With the green being so shallow, only a lofty tee shot will stop short of the bunker behind the green. A delicate tee shot can translate into a low score.
Favorite Par 4: Number 6, 374 yards (Tee Number 3). Number 6 offers an interesting risk/reward opportunity. With the fairway sloping from left to right, a drive that carries the left edge of the bunker will be greatly rewarded and take full advantage of the slope. Hit this shot, and you’ll be left with a short iron approach shot. If the bunker is too much to carry, play down the left side of the fairway to have the best line into a green that is heavily protected on the right side by sand and water. Another solid golf hole.
Favorite Par 5: Number 15, 509 yards (Tee Number 3). This three-shot, par 5 is Kingsway’s signature hole and for most players, it’s a 3-shot hole. That is, unless you crush your tee shot, then you may be tempted to go for it. To do that, not only will you need the drive of your life, you’ll have to hit a long, high approach shot that carries a second lake. Most players should opt to play their layup shot towards the fairway bunker on the left to avoid the waste area on the right side. Then, your approach shot is to an elevated green fronted by two bunkers. The putting green has a lot of undulation and can prove to be tricky. Make par or better and you’ve done well.
Last Word: This place has private club written all over it. From the elegance of the clubhouse, to the friendliest and most professional staff in the area, to the highly manicured grounds and golf course, non-members should consider themselves lucky to have the opportunity to play this track. Fairway divots are and filled with sand, sand bunkers are meticulously raked, and the areas around waterways are neatly trimmed. You’ll feel bad if you don’t repair your ball marks.
Many holes are well bunkered in front, forcing you to take enough club and carry your approach shot onto the green. This may make it more difficult for seniors, who prefer to bump and run the ball onto the green. Layup shots on par 5 holes need to avoid either water or sand, adding a certain level of accuracy necessary to score well on these holes. Two of the par 5s require a carry over water, but if you’re playing from the tees that best suit your handicap, it shouldn’t be a problem.
The TifEagle greens are amazing – fast and true. The subtle undulations and long, sweeping breaks on a few keep you honest on the putting green.
In addition to great golf, Kingsway Country Club is also the perfect venue for weddings, banquets, business meetings, and parties. Memberships are also available and Kingsway is unique with their various dues structures. Their ultimate equity membership includes unlimited golf with cart, unlimited use of the practice facilities, club storage and handicap service. There are also a variety of other memberships, such as a “pay as you play" program that has become very attractive to the local business community. Social and Dining memberships are also available. Call J.B. Belknap at 941-625-9827 Ext.5 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about all the options.
To learn more about Kingsway Country Club or to set up a tee time, give them a call at 941-625-9827 or visit their website: www.kingswaycountryclub.com. Kingsway was once an exclusively private club, but economic changes forced them to allow a limited amount of outside play. Sooner or later, membership is going to be back at a level that will allow them to be private again. My advice is to play it while you can. Or better yet, join!
Date Played: December 6, 2016
The Club at Eaglebrooke – A Hidden Gem in Polk County
The 18-hole Eaglebrooke course at the Club at Eaglebrooke in Lakeland, Florida features 7,030 yards of golf from the back tees and plays to a par of 72. From the back, the course rating is 74.6 with a slope rating of 140 on Bermuda grass. Most players will have all they can handle from the White Tees at 6316 yards. There are a total of six sets of tees; just select the one that best suits your handicap. The course was designed by renowned architect Ron Garl and opened for play in 1996. Golf Digest consistently rates Eaglebrooke 4 ½ stars and has designated it course as one of the Best Places to Play for the past nine years.
As you drive in to the parking lot, you will notice the driving range on your right. Eaglebrooke has one of the most comprehensive practice facilities in the area, something that is quickly becoming a Ron Garl trademark. There is a full length driving range with numerous target greensand you can hit balls to your hearts content with a paid greens fee. In fact, many golfers pay one price and use the practice facilities all day long. Next, there is a short game area complete with a large, slightly elevated putting green for chipping as well as bunkers to practice your sand shots. Not a bad idea to brush up on you sand game as Garl has strategically placed several evil pot bunkers around greens. Lastly is the immense practice green that is always in great shape. Be sure to roll a few putts before your round and you will see how fast and true they roll.
The pro shop is fully stocked with all of the latest equipment and logoed apparel and hats and you will find their pricing competitive with the big box stores. Head Professional John Greiner and his staff are there to serve you and can help fix your swing If need be.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 2, Par 4, 384 yards (White Tees). Leave your driver in the bag on this hole! Instead, choose a fairway wood, hybrid or long iron off the tee. You only need to hit it about 210 - 220 yards. From there you will be faced with an uphill shot of about 130 – 140 yards to a green that is much wider than it is deep. Anything over the green spells trouble in the form of sand. Number 2 is a good test of target golf.
Picking only one hole as a favorite was not an easy task; Ron Garl has created a number of them out here. Like all Ron Garl courses, Eaglebrooke is playable for golfers of all levels. There are a few long carries for seniors from the gold tees, but overall the course is manageable. You will find a lot of rolling terrain on both fairways and greens. The course is in fantastic shape all year round.
Eaglebrooke demands both length and thought off the tee. Some holes will require your best tee shots in order to get on in regulation; others will take driver out of your hand and have you thinking about your second shot. There are a number of risk/reward opportunities as well.
For more information, visit them online at www.eaglebrooke.com or give them a call at (863) 701-0101.
Date Played: July 12, 2016 | Cost: $75
Palm Harbor Golf Club – A Municipal Course with Character
Palm Harbor Golf Club in Palm Coast FL is a semi-private facility, so it’s accessible to anyone who wants to play it. It’s a municipal facility, but don’t let that deter you from playing here; munis typically get a bad rap, but Palm Harbor Golf Club is truly an exception. It’s not the longest course by any means, but it will definitely provide a challenge for golfers of all level.
Palm Harbor Golf Club features a complete practice facility with a driving range as well as chipping and putting greens. There’s also a bunker so you can practice your sand game. The fully-stocked pro shop carries both men’s and women’s name brand apparel and equipment. There’s also a restaurant - Canfield’s – that offers up quality food and adult beverages.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 3, Par 5, 474 yards (Green Tees). Trees line both sides of the fairway on this narrow par 5, so keeping your ball in play is a must if you want to score well on this hole. Getting on in two requires carrying the green because water creeps in on the right and there’s sand on the left. A layup is no sure bet either as the fairway gets really narrow up by the green with a bunker strategically placed short and right. There’s nothing wrong with getting on in three and taking a two-putt.
Favorite Par 3: Number 8, 145 yards (Green Tees). A short carry over water and sand on the right creates a little bit of drama on this medium length par 3. The green is elevated so bump-and-run is not an option. Your best bet for a good score is to simply pick the right club and make good contact.
Favorite Par 4: Number 18, 362 yards (Green Tees). Hopefully, you took a peak at this hole while you were standing on the 11th tee. It’s a slight dogleg left that demands accuracy off the tee. Be wary of the fairway bunkers on either side., although they are out of range for most golfers. A good drive will leave a short pitch shot over a creek to an elevated green that slopes back towards the water and is protected by a couple of bunkers short and left. Par is a good finishing score, although birdie is better!
Favorite Par 5: Number 15, 480 yards (Green Tees). Lots of sand and water make up the landscape along the way on the number 1 handicapped hole on the course. Favoring the left side of the fairway off the tee takes the water out of play and makes for an easy decision to go for the green in two. The fairway gets very narrow up by the green and water darts in from the right side. There’s also sand left and short right, so you’ll need a fair amount of accuracy on your approach shot.
Palm Coast Golf Club is located between Daytona Beach and the St. Augustine in Flagler County, just minutes off Interstate 95 in Palm Coast, FL. For more information or to book a round, give them a call at (386) 986-GOLF or visit their website at www.palmharborgolfclub.com.
Date Played: June 13, 2016
I liked the course. It had some interesting holes and had a lot of elevation changes for Florida golf. Pace of play was good.
Date Played: February 3, 2016 | Cost: $40.00
Pace of play was very slow. It took 5 1/2 hours to play. Played it the next day and it was not much better. I think the course should be marshalled better.
Date Played: January 31, 2016 | Cost: $30.00