Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Guide to Championship Golf at The Villages

Recently, I finished playing all of the 648 golf holes offered at The Villages (T.V.). For those not familiar with The Villages, it is a 125,000 senior 55+ retirement community located about an hour NW of Orlando, Florida. There is about every activity available you can think of here including, 12 Championship golf courses (306) holes and 38 Executive courses (342) holes. 3 million rounds are played here every year with 2,270 hole in ones recorded in 2017.

Below are my ranking of the (2)-18 hole and (10)-27 hole Championship courses at T.V. I have photographed all of these courses and they can be viewed by clicking on the SLIDESHOW header above. I kept track of all my scores and ended up taking 1,266 strokes +42 over par =74.47 avg/18, which included 2 Eagles, 34 Birdies, 18 Three-putts, and shooting even par/or under on 11 of the 34 nines with 3 rounds of +40 all from the Blue tees.

My ranking Criteria is very simplistic: How many Interesting/Challenging holes (1pt) and Exceptional designed holes (2pt) are there per nine hole loop. Conditioning is pretty consistent throughout the courses as they are all managed by T.V. Clifton Group designed all but 45 holes with the exception of Palmer and Glenview. So the design characteristics are also very similar which I would consider being Resort Style-generous landing areas with forgiving green run ups.

My rankings with recommendations of the top 9 hole loops at each 27 hole course:
Tier 1-Blue rated (25pts)
Palmer Legends CC(27)- 18 holes designed by The King himself with the other Riley Grove 9 by Clifton Design Group. The three loops here are all strong with Laurel Valley receiving (9pts) and Cherry Grove / Riley Grove 8 pts each.

Tier 2-Gold+ rated (21-22pts)
Havana CC (27)- The most undulating property at T.V. Kilimanjaro 9 (8pts) is one of my favorites with a great stretch of short holes to finish off the loop. Hemingway 9 (9pts) is also very strong. Kenya 9 (5pts) the weaker loop here. Shot -2 on my two favorite loops. Great view from the Clubhouse patio.
Lopez Legacy CC (27)- Erin Glenn(9pts) and Torri Pines(8pts) two of the strongest 9's at T.V. Might want to pass on Ashley Meadows (5pts).
Mallory Hill CC (27)- Even being that there are two Exceptional holes on Caroline 9 (6pts), I prefer Virgina 9 (8pts) and Amelia 9 (7pts). Lots of rolling terrain on Amelia that makes for several interesting holes.
Glenview Champions CC (27)- Designed by three Champion tour players, I prefer the John Mahaffey Fox Run 9 (7pts) and the Tommy Aaron Stirrup Cup 9 (8pts) over the Hubert Green Talley Ho 9 (6pts). Nice diversity of holes at Glenview CC. My favorite clubhouse ambiance.

Tier 3- Gold rated (16-18 pts)
Cane Garden CC (27)- Another of my favorite's is the Hibiscus 9 (7pts), holes 2-5 are very secluded. Allamanda 9 (7pts) is your best choice over Jacaranda 9 (4pts).
Bonifay CC (27)- Even with a very nice stretch of rolling holes #5-#8 the remaining at Destin 9 (5pts) are rather mundane as are many at Ft Walton 9 (5pts). Pensacola 9 (7pts) has a great stretch of finishing holes and is the must play loop here.
Belle Glade (27)- A flat parcel without major wetlands that the architect has done a good job with trying to squeeze out a few interesting holes. Love the opening hole on Tequesta 9 (7pts). Seminole 9 (5pts) and Calusa 9 (5pts) mostly uninspiring but I would choose Seminole of the two.
Evans Prairie CC (27)-One of the flattest properties at T.V. Wetlands makes Killdeer 9 (7pts) and Osprey 9 (6pts) more interesting and challenging. Egret 9 (3pts) very weak.
**The previous three complexes are the newest at T.V. I wish the developer would have moved a little more dirt and gone with different architects, to give some more diversity to the courses at T.V. It would be nice to have at least one true world class championship course here.

Tier 4- Gold- rated (15 pts)
Hacienda CC (27)- The oldest and shortest 27 hole track at T.V. The Oaks 9 (6pts) and Palms 9 (5pts) would be my choice for a round of golf here. There are several short risk/reward holes on these two nines. Only a few holes on the Lakes (4pts) I liked.
Tierra Del Sol GCC- Mature growth 18 hole course with a cozy feeling due to the narrower fairways. More simplistic green complexes. 10 interesting holes.

Tier 5- White rated (8/12pts)
Orange Blossom GCC- The original 18 at T.V. Eight interesting holes with some elevation change.

The top 5-6 courses here will give you a nice golfing experience, be sure and play the top two nines at each 27 hole course for the maximum challenge. As mentioned above this is Resort Style golf, that will not be that difficult if you are a lower handicap golfer. For the average golfer you will have an enjoyable round as the courses are well maintained and not very penal. There is also the option to just play 9 holes, pick the top loop at each course for the very best experience.

I find the Executive courses more difficult due to the challenging green complexes and just as nicely conditioned. If you are a resident the Exec courses are included in your monthly activities fee, the Championship Courses are around $50 or half price if playing 9 holes.