Description courtesy of www.floridagolfjournal.com 2007.
Golf design is a science. Angles, planes, slopes. Not to mention agronomics, environmental concerns, and weather. But at its zenith, golf design becomes art. Not just visually, but strategically. The elegance of a strand of green grass, covered by a powder blue sky, with dollops of white sand strewn about. An 18-hole battle as the architect continually dangles the forbidden apple, tempting each player to reach for the exceptional rather than accepting the attainable.
With Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, Lakeland-based Ron Garl distinguishes himself as a Renaissance man, fusing science and art to pleasure and petrify all comers. Opened in 2001 within the quaint upscale development of Victoria Park, the course instantly gained attention from both national and regional publications, including recently being named one of Florida's "Hidden Gems" by Travel + Leisure Golf. It enjoys love affairs with the USGA,FSGA and NCAA. It will host a 2007 U.S. Open qualifier, and has previously held the 2006 FSGA State Senior Championship, and the 2004 NCAA Division II Men's National Championship.
Victoria Hills, like every new course in the northern province of Florida, heavily promotes its elevation changes. No doubt that it's a fun shift from the Orlando flatlands just 30 minutes south. Yet trees and slopes alone donâ€™t define the course. You'll also encounter a bagful of slinky putts. As you pack your trunk to leave, it's the sand traps you'll remember. Garl has littered his course with waste bunkers that annoy yet don't slaughter. But as a whole, his sand traps are the most perilous Florida Golf Journal has found. Curvaceous, deep, and positioned with pinpoint accuracy to gather the maximum number of errant shots.
Might as well order a rum runner now, because your wandering drives will inevitably come to rest on beaches. And while Garl provides safe approaches to most greens, the tractor beam of the bunkers seems inescapable. Nowhere do Garl's sand hazards wreak more havoc than on the 581-yard 14th hole. Your tee shot feeds right between a total of 9 traps, any of which should prevent you from reaching the green. Head Golf Professional Matt Payne spewed respectful venom at those to the fairway's right side: "I hate those traps! If I had a shovel, I'd go fill them in right now." And an assembly of four more surround the small green, testing your ability to quickly snap your bunker shot to a stop before it rolls off the other side.
David Buth, manager of golf operations, calls the short par-4 third hole, a downhiller that rises back abruptly at the green, his favorite: "It is one of the most difficult short holes I have ever played. I love the challenge of conquering this hole, because you have to strategize rather than relying on brute strength."
Green conditioning has been a challenge at this course, as poor air flow and excessive shade have inhibited grass growth. But trouble spots are rapidly disappearing as Superintendent Hal Richburg tactically crops or removes trees to better aerate.
Victoria Hills deems itself a quasi-public upscale golf course, drawing players mainly from between east Orlando and Daytona along I-4. Frequent play programs are available, as you are destined to become addicted to this unique layout.
(cart included), played on Wednesday, March 2014 at 6am
I really enjoyed this golf course, Its cool to see another Ron garl course, especially with elevation changes, awesome bunkering and such a variety of hole designs. I have played 486 golf courses in my life. This one is in my top 50. I will be back. Don Noseworthy, Executive Director (Retired) Ottawa Zone, Canadian PGA.
Member (cart included), played on Tuesday, October 2012 at 8am
Great course with challenging shots.
$36 (cart included), played on Sunday, March 2011 at 8am
A tough course with lots of sand. Very good condition. You should play this course!
$51 (cart included), played on Friday, September 2009 at noon
very popular with area players, especially when other courses nearly empty
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