Course Review and Comments
We recently had the privilege of playing Golden Ocala golf and equestrian club, located at 8300 NW 31st Lane Road in Ocala, FL. This is a private club, so you have to either know or be a member to get on the course. If you can get on, and you're willing to make the ~2 hour trip from Jacksonville, then you'll be treated to some of the best golf in Central Florida.
Golden Ocala offers an impressive clubhouse and the course is in great shape. However, what makes Golden Ocala unique are the surprisingly realistic replica holes. These holes are modeled after many of the most famous holes in golf. In total, there are eight replicas at the course:
1. Hole #4, Par 3 (103-128 yards): Royal Troon #8, "The Postage Stamp"-An extremely small green and numerous bunkers make this hole challenging despite only playing 128 yards from the tips.
2. Hole #5, Par 5 (445-511): Muirfield #9-This "links" hole further transports you overseas to the British Isles. We were able to carry the bunkers in the middle and have a go (albeit unsuccessful) at the green.
3. Hole #6, Par 3 (140-179) Augusta #16-This is a beautiful par three with water and trees guarding the green. Try to leave the ball below the hole as the green has significant undulation from back to front.
4. Hole #11, Par 3 (134-160) Augusta #12-Jack Nicklaus called the 12th at Augusta, "the hardest hole in tournament golf." The 11th at Golden Ocala plays a bit easier with a more receptive green. However, the water is still in play and over the green is trouble.
5. Hole #12, Par 5 (458-491) Augusta #13-Unfortunately, this is probably the closest we'll ever get to actually playing our favorite par 5 in the world. The 12th hole at Golden Ocala is a dogleg left and really looks like the famous, reachable par 5 on Augusta National's hallowed back nine.
6. Hole #13, Par 4 (355-448) St. Andrews #17, "The Road Hole"-Golden Ocala actually constructed a stone wall, road bunker, and paved a road for this hole. The result is a difficult par 4 that requires two solid shots to reach the putting surface safely.
7. Hole #14, Par 4 (325-353) St. Andrews #1, "The First Hole In Golf"-If you watched the recent Open Championship then you likely noticed this straightforward hole that is the first hole at the ancient "Old Course" at St. Andrews in Scotland. A driver and wedge is all it takes to reach the hole. Make sure you clear the water and expect a fast putt if you're behind the hole.
8. Hole #15, Par 3 (105-203) Baltusrol #4-The final replica hole at Golden Ocala is a challenging and lengthy par 3. It's best to miss on the right side or over the green because short is either in the water or a bunker.
In closing, if you every get the opportunity to play Golden Ocala, do it. The course is in nice condition and has improved greatly over the years. We weren't sure if the random combination of famous holes would flow together into one cohesive course. With confidence, we can tell you that the course works because it offers something for everyone and requires a wide variety of shots and strategies.
When we played the greens were still relatively fast despite being aerated in recent date. The fairways are lush and the ball was sitting up on seemingly every lie. Also, don't forget to tour the gigantic 77,000 sq. foot, 2-story clubhouse, which includes a large upstairs bar, food service, locker rooms, and great artwork.
Pictures and more reviews: http://www.examiner.com/x-52420-Jacksonville-Golf-Examiner
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