by Michelle Salyer

After a record cold winter, Brevard County golf courses are back in full swing this summer, many with refurbished greens and landscaping. More than 25 courses grace the Space Coast, many of them ranked among Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play.” These courses bring with them all things golf — including talented golf pros, fully stocked pro shops, unbelievable custom golf carts and high-tech gadgets galore.

Whether you’re a serious golfer, a weekend hacker or are picking up a club for the first time, a wealth of golf options for every skill level can be found up and down the Space Coast.

Courses You Can’t Miss

Cocoa Beach Country Club

www.golfcocoabeach.com

5000 Tom Warriner Blvd., Cocoa Beach, FL 32931 | (321) 868-3351

Public, 27 hole, 6,393 yards, Par 71

Joe Tucker, Head Professional

Holly Gregory, LPGA Professional

With three nine-hole courses—River, Dolphin and Lakes—playable in three 18-hole combinations, Cocoa Beach Country Club offers variety to the regular golfer and a quicker rate of play than standard 18-hole courses. Friendly, wide-open greens make the courses welcoming to novices, but a constant breeze from the Banana River, especially welcome in August and September, adds a bit of challenge for more experience players. An abundance of scenic beauty and birds, recently renovated greens, a driving range, putting course and 19th Hole restaurant make for an enjoyable day of golf for the whole family.

 

Baytree National Golf Links

www.baytreenational.com

8207 National Dr, Melbourne, FL 32940 | (321) 259-9060

Semi-private, 18 hole, 7,043 yards, Par 72

Debra Wolf, Director of Golf

Keith Williams, Instructor, The People’s Pro Golf Academy

With a four star rating from Golf Digest and high marks by Zagat, not to mention the endorsement of the Washington Nationals, this Gary Player-designed course is a must-play in Brevard. Course architecture makes the most of scenic lakes and incorporates split fairways but provides a good measure of forgiveness for that not-so-perfect shot. A practice facility, golf shop, restaurant and bar offer members and visitors an all-encompassing golf experience.

Indian River Colony Club

www.indianrivercolonyclub.com

1936 Freedom Dr., Melbourne, FL 32940 | (321) 255-6050

Private, 18 hole, 6,647 yards, Par 72

Recreation manager, Wally Bandura

Nestled in a community for retired military personnel, this private club is proud to be called a challenging “shot maker’s course.” With a member-to-hole ratio of 13 to 1, members enjoy readily accessible tee times. Seven sets of tees welcome every level of golfer while a recently added Silver Tee Executive Course produces fewer hazards and quicker play time. Daily tournaments for men, women and couples make for camaraderie and competition in this quiet golf community — “the place where patriots call home.”

Suntree Country Club

www.suntree.com

One Country Club Dr., Melbourne, FL 32940 | (321) 242-6230

Private, 36 hole

Challenge Course – 6,945 yards, Par 72

Classic Course – 6,953 yards, Par 72

General Manager Steve LaMontagne, Head Golf Professional Joe Imondi

Home to the PGA Senior Tour from 1980-1990, Suntree Country Club still boasts PGA-quality greens — arguably, Brevard’s best kept — at its two championship 18-hole courses, the Challenge and the Classic. Former head pro turned general manager, Steve LaMontagne, played on the PGA Tour from 1990-1994 and still teaches a limited number of lessons, along with current head pro, Joe Imondi. The club’s website provides hole-by-hole instruction, but even practiced golfers will need more than a few pointers to master these tough but fair courses.

 

The Majors Golf Club

www.majorsgolfclub.com

3375 Bayside Lakes Blvd. Palm Bay, FL 32909

952-8617

Semi-private, 18 hole, 7,352 yards, Par 72

PGA Teaching Professionals John Redman and Steve Underill

It takes a legend like Arnold Palmer to design a course through and around lakes, wetlands and preservation areas to provide a game that’s as challenging as it is beautiful. Given four and a half stars on Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” list, this semi-private course is known for its rolling hills and trees more often found in the Carolinas, yet white sugar sand traps remind the errant golfer he is indeed still in Florida. The area’s most complete practice facility, named one of the best in the world by Golf Magazine, includes a three-hole short course for warming up, as well as multiple chipping, putting and bunker areas.

 

Rockledge Country Club

1591 S. Fiske Blvd., Rockledge, FL 32955

636-3160

Private, 18 hole, 6,436 yards, Par 71

Head Pro Ed Buckey, Assistant Pro Beau Baugh

As the area’s first golf course, established in the 1920s, Rockledge Country Club prides itself on tradition. Whereas many courses now require golf carts, Rockledge is “easy to walk and you still can walk,” said assistant pro Beau Baugh, former BCC golf coach and touring member of the PGA from 1979-1986. Wide open fairways lined with mature trees combine with more challenging holes, such as the legendary number six, which requires players to shoot into the wind and over water. In true country club fashion, dinner is offered Wednesday through Friday, in addition to breakfast and lunch.

Great Outdoors RV & Golf Resort

www.tgoresort.com

125 Plantation Dr, Titusville, FL 32780 | (321) 269-5524

Public, 18 hole, 6,542 yards, Par 71

Golf Pros and Co-Owners: Tom Wargo,Senior PGA Champion, British Senior Open Champion, Larry Laoretti,U.S. Senior Open Champion

The Great Outdoors course incorporates the beauty of the St. Johns River area to provide a relaxing yet challenging morning of golf that’s easily playable in less than four hours. Charming wooden bridges span numerous water hazards. Players rave about the fast greens, well-conditioned fairways and the relatively short yardage of Ron Garl designed course, as well as its overall value.

La Cita Golf & Country Club

www.lacitacc.com

777 Country Club Dr, Titusville, FL 32780 | (321) 267-2955

Private, 18 hole, 6,602 yards, Par 72

PGA Head Golf Professional Bob Kennedy

Designed by Ron Garl and Lee Travino, LaCita draws upon the natural setting of lakes, hills and woods to provide a peaceful setting befitting a private club. Three sets of tees accommodate a range of skill levels, but the tree-lined fairways and water hazards on 14 of 18 holes are often said to be better suited to a more experience player. The practice facility, racquet and health club and clubhouse dining offer a range of amenities for members.

Viera East Golf Club

www.vieragolf.com

2300 Clubhouse Dr., Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 639-6500

Public, 18 hole, 6,720 yards, Par 72

Pro Justin Wasson

Designed by course architect Joe Lee, Viera East features Lee’s trademark bunkers and water hazards thanks to numerous lakes and marshes. A Florida native and designer of more than 200 golf courses throughout the country, Lee’s credo, “Golfers want a challenge, but they want a fair one,” is evident at Viera East, where generous driving areas and six sets of tees help to offset potential penalties. The practice facility features 30 stations in all, providing ample opportunity for warm up or technique work.

Duran Golf Club

7032 Stadium Parkway Viera, FL 32940 | (321) 504-7776

Public, 18 hole, 7,151 yards, Par 72

Head Pro, Russell Glasby

Assistant Pro, Vincent Cangiano, Jr.

Director of Instruction, Wally Kuchar

Featuring wide open, undulating fairways and mounded greens, this links-style course was built upon rich soil of a former Duda cattle and sod farm, and offers arguably the most unique golf experience on the Space Coast. While many area courses name their holes for flora or fauna, Duran’s holes provide a preview of the challenge to come, with names like False Front and “Biarritz”—a French term for a green with a deep dip in the center that plays true to its name. Strategically placed bunkers and 15 lakes test experienced golfers but allow shorter drivers an enjoyable experience as well.

The Duran Development Center features a practice range, short-game practice area and an illuminated, nine-hole, par 3 course, providing the perfect opportunity for a quick evening game following those afternoon Florida showers.

 

Stop In and Play at These 19th Holes…

Best of the Burgers: A favorite with the Viera set—both golfers and non-golfers—is Duran Golf Club’s British West Indies-style Tradewinds restaurant and lounge. Offering luxurious seating indoors or on a spacious veranda overlooking the course, Tradewinds offers weekday lunch specials and a weekend Island-style breakfast as well as themed evening events such as “Cheeseburger in Viera-dise,” in honor of the club’s celebrated burgers, every last Friday of the month. For reservations, call 504-7776, ext. 2. Check www.durangolf.com for hours of operation and menu.

Brunch Bunch: Suntree Country Club offers a traditional Sunday brunch complete with champagne and full-service omelet and carving stations. Other clubhouse offerings include holiday buffets and regularly scheduled wine tastings. For reservations, call 242-6233.

Wet Your Whistle: Mulligan’s Grill at Viera East features $1.25 draft beer every day after 2 p.m. and all day Tuesday and Thursday.

 

Upcoming Tournaments and Special Events

Baytree National Golf Links

Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) Third Annual Rally for the Cure, benefitting the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Oct. 2. For more information, visit www.ewgabrevard.org or call Cheryl Pearson at 604-6719.

Rockledge Country Club

49th Annual Platinum Coast Invitational, Sept. 11-12. For more information, visit www.rockledgecc.com or call 636-3160.

Indian River Colony Club

15th Annual Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation Golf Classic, Oct. 23. Golfers will be entered to win a 2010 Dodge Charger or a trip to the 2011 British Open. For more information or to register, visit www.brevardalzheimers.org or call 253-4430.

Duran Golf Club

World of Beer Golf Shootout, offered every Thursday evening at 6 p.m. on the Par 3 Course. Tournaments include the Snowbird Open, Oct. 14 and Turkey Shoot Out, Nov. 18. For more information, visit www.durangolf.com or call 504-7776.

Indian River Colony Club

Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation, Oct. 23. For more information, visit

www.indianrivercolonyclub.com or call 255-6050.

A Pro’s Pro

Tucked under an awning in a modest mom-and-pop driving range facility is one of the area’s most considerable golf assets. Michael Warobick, owner of U.S. 1 Golf Center, has been a PGA-certified instructor for 29 years and is currently one of 18 pros nationwide serving on the PGA’s National Instruction Committee, referred to by PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Joe Steranka as “some of the greatest minds on golf performance and learning in the game.” Warobick’s long history of sharing his passion for golf through lessons and his lifetime of service to the PGA earned him a spot among some of the country’s most decorated golf instructors, including those from Pebble Beach, Calif., and Duke University. He has also been named one of the nation’s Top 50 Golf Instructors by Golf Range Association for the past eight years and was twice named one of the Top 50 U.S. kids’ instructors by U.S. Kids’ Golf.

Finding the Perfect Instructor

Thinking of taking a few lessons to learn the game or to improve your swing? Warobick offers these tips for finding a great instructor:

  • Look for a PGA Professional. Anyone can call themselves a golf teacher, but PGA pros must meet a series of requirements to earn this distinction, including passing a playing ability test on a 36-hole course and a three-year apprenticeship under another PGA pro.
  • Look for someone who is busy. A great golf instructor is always in demand no matter what the economy.
  • Interview them and watch them with other students. Although a great pro is always busy, he or she should be willing to make time to answer questions or allow you to watch them work.
  • Make sure the instructor has video capability to provide a slow motion swing analysis.
  • Check out “The New Rules of Golf Instruction” by Charlie King, a Golf Magazine Top 100 Golf Instructor. To download a checklist of “new” golf instructor requirements, visit www.reynoldsgolfacademy.com

Ladies’ Golf  Leagues and Clinics

Around the Space Coast, golfing isn’t just for the guys. Ladies interested in learning more about the game or polishing their skills can check out one of the following leagues:

The Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) of Brevard welcomes any female golfer age 18 or older. Two monthly “Nine and Dine” golf and dinner outings, as well as competitions and social networking events promote the goal of helping women learn and enjoy the game of golf for business or pleasure. For more information, visit www.ewgabrevard.org or call Cheryl Pearson at 604-6719.

U.S. 1 Golf Center offers a drop-in Monday night ladies’ clinic year-round at 6 p.m. with PGA Pro Ben Rotgers. Designed for the beginner or high handicapper who wants to improve her skills, the clinic costs $25 per session or $80 prepaid for four sessions. For more information, visit www.us1golfcenter.com or call 632-5461.

Duran Golf Club offers Ladies Golf Nights on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. for $12 per session. For more information, www.durangolf.com or call 504-7776.

Ones to Watch

The Space Coast is a breeding ground for young golf talent, with numerous PGA and LPGA players hailing from the area’s high schools and colleges. Brevard Community College and Florida Institute of Technology both offer superior golf programs.

Vicky Hurst joined the Duramed Futures Tour, the official development tour of the LPGA, in 2008 as a 17-year-old senior at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. She won five times, setting a record for most earnings in a single tour and was named Futures Tour Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year for 2008. Hurst graduated to the LPGA Tour in 2009 and recently finished her LPGA rookie year by setting a record in driving distance with an average of 272.5 yards.

A Grant, Fla. native and Univ. of Florida SEC Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2009, Billy Horschel gained his PGA Tour card for the 2010 season through the PGA’s grueling four-stage Qualifying School or “Q-school.”

Kids’ Golf Clinics

Eager to raise a little Vicky Hurst or Billy Horschel? Both attended the Saturday morning Junior Clinics at U.S. 1 Golf Center when they were young. Taught by PGA Pros Mike Warobick and Ben Rotgers, the one-hour, 9 a.m. group session includes club rental, skills development in putting, chipping and driving, and a snack for $5. For more information, call 632-5461 or visit www.us1golfcenter.com.

Duran Golf Club also offers a Junior Clinic on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 4 p.m. for $7. For more information, visit www.durangolf.com or call 504-7776.

Many other golf clubs offer discounts for Junior golfers or special instruction. Check club websites or call for more information.

Gotta Have It-Golf Trends and Gadgets

Knee or shoulder replacements? No problem. Golf fitness is one of today’s hottest trends with more and more golfers targeting specific muscle groups for a better swing. Some area instructors, including Mike Warobick at U.S. 1 Golf Center, will consult with a golfer’s chiropractor and physical therapist to create a comprehensive program to improve mobility and range of motion.

Custom club fitting is also catching on, with more and more golfers seeking professional advice on correct shaft length, material, club head design and more versus buying off the rack at an indoor golf superstore. Most local pro shops offer a try before you buy policy; if not, look elsewhere.

With a wealth of golf applications for the iPhone, the game has become increasingly high-tech. Among popular apps are GolfCard, BreakMeter, Viewti Golf 2010, GolfLogix: Golf GPS, Golfshot: Golf GPS and AirVue Golf. Websites like www.golflink.com offer aerial “flyovers” of area courses as well as course reviews at no charge with a simple online registration.

Many seasoned golfers prefer the SkyCaddie Golf GPS for precision, ground-verified mapping in which the shape of the green rotates depending on the golfer’s angle of approach. The SkyCaddie SGX can hold up to 30,000 pre-loaded courses. Available online at www.skygolf.com and in select local pro shops; around $400.

The Smart Stick is one of the hottest new golfer gadgets recommended by the pros. This golf swing training aid uses industrial and military-quality lasers to provide continuous visual feedback on the position of your club through your swing. Available online at www.smartstickgolf.com or by phone at 877-GOLF-909, around $225.

Crazy for Custom Carts

While the course at the Great Outdoors RV, Nature & Golf Resort is known for its winding woodland and wildlife habitats, its residents are known for their over-the-top rides. Golf carts are a source of pride and competition among resort members, who strut their stuff in an annual Christmastime golf cart parade.

GolfCarts Unlimited, which is located within the resort, builds custom carts to satisfy virtually any desire. The latest trends include custom cart bodies made to look like automobiles, including Mustangs, Hummers and 57 Chevys. The company recently outfitted a cart to look like a Cadillac Escalade. Many residents deck out their custom carts in professional and college team colors. Lift kits, custom tires and wheels, and body wraps with graphic images or business advertisements are also hot sellers. “The accessories and options are almost limitless,” said Robert Finchum, shop manager for All Brevard Golf Cars, Inc., which also supplies carts to residents of the Great Outdoors and other residential areas. At M&B Golfcarts of Cocoa, the biggest demand is for non-custom carts that look like off-road vehicles or four-wheelers with oversized tires.

With high gas prices, electric carts are becoming an increasingly popular mode of off-course transportation as well, whether to drive to work, to the community swimming pool or the grocery store, to drop the kids to school, or simply to take an evening drive around the neighborhood.

For more information about new, used or custom carts, contact:

  • All Brevard Golf Cars, Inc. Rockledge, 639-6777‎
  • GolfCarts Unlimited, Titusville 268-4882
  • M&B Golfcarts, Cocoa 636-6690

Golf Specials

Duran Golf Club offers discounts for active duty military, as well as police, fire fighters, paramedics and teachers. Individuals with proper identification receive 50 percent off greens fees for play booked within 24 hours or 25 percent off for play booked outside 24 hours. Call 504-7776 for tee times.

Rockledge Country Club is offering a new member special for $275 per month which includes unlimited cart use and balls. (Excludes monthly dining requirement.) For more information, visit www.rockledgecc.com or call 636-3160.

Viera East Golf Club is offering a $15 daily special valid until the regulation greens re-open (offer subject to expire without notice). Groups of 12 or more scheduled players enjoy a 10 percent discount through 2 p.m. Active duty military receive 15 percent off the Brevard County resident morning rate through 2 p.m. To book tee times, call 639-6500.

Golf Club Gives Back

In 2009, Viera East Golf Club began offering complimentary Veterans Golf Clinics as a way to “thank them for their service and sacrifice,” said Head Pro Justin Wasson. The tradition continues in 2010 with four skills clinics and three course management clinics as well as a care package program for those currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Skills clinics include complimentary lunch as well as one-hour small group sessions on the putting green and practice range and a question-and-answer session (Sept. 11 and Dec. 11). The course management clinic consists of small group instruction on the course (Nov. 6). To register or for more information, visit www.vieragolf.com or call 639-65

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