|Not only did Arnold Palmer design the course at Adios Golf Club back in the early 1980s, he was also one of sixteen founder members that established the golf club.|
I agree with Colin’s post that Adios should be rated higher in the state of Florida. I thoroughly enjoyed my round there even if I played miserably over the final six holes after playing good for eleven of the first twelve holes, including two birdies.
The course and club sit on a near perfect rectangle of land, bordered by the busy Florida Turnpike on one side, a waterway on, a housing development, and 39th avenue. Yet within the grounds it is mostly quiet. In fact the landscaping is so well done in combination with a huge amount of water that one feels like they are in an arboretum. It really is a beautiful walk, although a bit more visually attractive on the front than the back nine. The front nine seems to have more trees along with more interesting green surrounds both in contour as well as the trees and vegetation nearer the greens.
In some regards the course is very much like the stereotype one might find in Florida with water on fifteen of the holes, although on two of those fifteen the water is not really in play. Three of the par 3 holes do not have water. Yet the man-made ponds and streams blend naturally with the surrounding plants and trees.
Where Adios differs from the typical Florida course is that it is tighter requiring one to be straighter with both the tee shot and the approach shots to the greens. There is a good use of trees that frame the fairways. When combined with the ponds and streams, one is challenged to make the proper decisions in considering the options.
Adding to the charm and shot values of Adios is clever mounding on many of the holes, sometimes found on the fairways but more often found nearer the greens. The green surrounds rarely look the same with some greens built into hills or having surrounding knobs and mounds creating a good variety of interesting contours alongside many of the greens. It is this distinction that sets it apart from other courses designed by Mr. Palmer, including the championship course at Bay Hill. Perhaps Mr. Palmer had a bigger budget or allocated more of his time to this course since he was a founding member and personally knew many of the members.
I think this is one of Mr. Palmer’s better designs, although not in the class of Tralee where Mother Nature did most of the work. This is a course one could enjoy to play every day given the beautiful setting, flat land, with good variety in the routing of the holes as well as variety in the actual greens. Mr. Palmer built some wonderfully wild and nicely contoured greens compared to many of his other designs.
One criticism would come in the use of water where there is a fair amount of redundancy with many of the greens being fronted by a pond set close to the green.
The course is not long, but its tightness can lead one to choosing a less lengthy club in order to keep a ball in play. The bunkers are appropriate in number, are well placed and have a nice shape to them. This adds both to the visual appeal of the course as well as the defense of the course. There were very few bunkers that I felt to be misplaced or unnecessary to the defense of the course. There are center-line bunkers on six holes, not a common characteristic of courses in Florida.
As for the routing, one could quibble with starting with a double dogleg as opposed to saving it for later. Three of the holes at the corner of the property have sharp doglegs and perhaps a better routing would have eliminated that. Perhaps the rectangular land dictated the routing forcing these three sharp doglegs. The end result is that two of these three doglegs were among my least favorite holes on the course. However, these holes offer options as to how to play them regardless of one’s handicap. In sum, I thought the second hole, a sharp dogleg left was a nice hole whereas I did not have as much attraction for the fifth and the thirteenth.
From the Black tees the course is 6949 yards, par 72, rated 74.7/143. We played the Gold tees at 6520 yards, rated 72.6/140. There are two sets of lesser tees and three combination tees resulting in seven different tees with ratings. The ratings are definitely influenced by the amount of water on the course.
1. Par 5 – 518/482. I liked this hole despite putting a ball in the pond and opening with a double. The hole plays out to the left but then comes back to the right except for those trying to make the green in two. The hole has a central right bunker in play for the longer hitters. The left side of the fairway has some nice mounding. I hit a nice tee shot but hooked my second into the pond that starts on the left side about 150 yards from the green. This pond continues all the way down the left side of the green which sits hard again it. To prevent those coming into the green from taking a safer option there is a front right bunker and a back right bunker. The green has a slight horizontal tier about halfway up with an overall slope towards the pond. I like the early central bunker as well as the incorporation of the pond. I also liked that one did have the option of running a ball onto the green. It is a good risk-reward hole although one could argue it should not come so early in the round.
2. Par 4 – 446/409. After crossing over an early pond, this hole swings nearly 90 degrees to the left. Even average length hitters can run into the trees where the fairway turns. There are two inner corner bunkers to try to stop those from cutting the dogleg but anyone with longer length can likely land beyond them. I did not like either of these bunkers given the length of the hole. At the green there is a “backwards 3” shaped bunker on the front left and a large bunker on the right side creating a narrower front opening. One can run their ball onto this green. The back of the bunker is protected by two bunkers set into a mound. The green is two-tiered as well as having a mound on the front left. This is an okay hole but would be better without the inner corner bunkers.
3. Par 4 – 398/382. This is somewhat of a straight hole although the green is placed off to the left with half of it fronted by a pond. There is good mounding on the right side before the fairway falls down towards the pond. The green complex is one of the better ones on the course, even if it is man-made as it looks natural. The hole plays out to the left where the fairway is a bit wider. Forcing you that way is a bunker set on the highest point on the right side inside a heavy grouping of trees. Bigger hitters can carry the bunker and can catch the downslope resulting in having a wedge or less in their hands. Shorter hitters will face a daunting shot over the water but with a bailout down the right side. The green is surrounded by trees on three sides with clever mounding down the right side and behind the green. While technically this is a two-tiered green the overall slope of the front half is very severe. The greens has a lot of break even within the plateau of the second half and putts that must navigate both the tier and across one side of the green to the other will face a testy putt both for pace and break. I liked this hole a lot because it offers options as well as having a very good green complex.
4. Par 3 – 172/154. This par 3 has a bunker front left and one on the right side to a green that is angled right to left. There is short grass prior to the green which is set slightly above the tee. It is not a particularly memorable hole. There is decent mounding to the right side of the green but the left side is relatively uninteresting.
5. Par 4 – 393/351. A pond is very much in play down the left side continuing to fronting the green. The course has two central bunkers perfectly placed for both shorter and longer hitters as longer hitters are not likely trying to get too close to this green given the risks of the water with the land somewhat sloped towards it. This is a very sharp dogleg left. Additional defense to the green comes with a front right bunker and a left side bunker as well as raised ground behind the green. The raised ground provides a bit of a backstop but the ground is somewhat uneven and a lie there could be flaky. The green runs towards the water and is speedy if coming down from the higher ground at the rear. A safe play is to play short of the green as putting is definitely an option. Obviously if one goes left of the central bunkers they will have a shorter shot and a direct line to the green over the water. A tee shot landing right of the two central bunkers will face a longer approach shot and the water seems to be more worrisome. I felt one central bunker to be adequate for the hole or make the hole a shorter, straighter par 4. But this hole does offer a lot of drama.
6. Par 5 – 560/520. This is the number one index on the course due to an early forced carry over a pond with it continuing down nearly all of the left side in the form of a stream. The stream is then replaced by a collection of trees that pinch the fairway. Prior to the narrowing of the fairway there is another center-line bunker. The second shot needs to lay up short of another pond sitting near the front of the green beginning about thirty yards away. The green has a single bunker on the right side built into a hill with more mounding surrounding the back of the green. There is a back plateau to the green. I made a nice birdie here to offset the disaster I had on the first.
7. Par 3 – 213/197. There is not much interesting about this hole which plays slightly uphill to a green that rises all the way to the back. The front of the green is narrow with a large three fingered bunker on the right and a small one on the left middle creating a narrower neck to the front of the green.
8. Par 4 – 403/385. The tee shot plays to one of the widest fairways on the course. This hole bends to the right with another pond fronting the green. The green is angled to the left making the bunkers placed in a diagonal set at the front and back. This is another good green with a lot of mounding just off of it.
9. Par 4 – 457/442. This is the longest par 4 on the course sharing the stream and pond that are on the seventh. The pond narrows the fairway as you near the green biting into about half of the front and right side. There is a bunker on the front left corner and two on the right side to a green with raised ground behind it. The green is long, but not wide in the back half. This is very much another all-or-nothing hole with the approach shot. There is ample room to hit one’s second left and try to pitch or chip a ball close to the pin. This is the number three index but I felt it to be the most difficult on the front nine.
10. Par 4 – 302/286. You pass around to the other side of the clubhouse to arrive at an elevated tee hitting over lower ground until the land rises again to a green placed on a small hill. Water goes down the left side but should be cleared. There is a large bunker on the left and a line of trees down the right making this fairway a bit narrow in the landing zone. The bigger hitters who try to drive the green will have to carry or avoid two bunkers placed about 25 yards short of the green. Once again, there is good mounding and contours surrounding this green which has a defined tier and a back left shelf. It is an okay hole where matches can reward the bold play.
11. Par 4 – 434/408. This straight hole offers a somewhat generous fairway although a bunker built into a hill on the right is in play off the tee. There is a ridge line down much of the right side of the fairway. A pond cuts across 90% of the fairway but this time it stops about 20 yards short of the green. The green has a bunker on the front left corner and the back left corner. It is a more difficult hole for the average player than the longer hitter. This is rated the number two index but I felt there are harder holes on the back.
12. Par 3 – 173/156. As mentioned, three of the par 3’s do not have water. This hole plays fairly level with two bunkers on the left and one on the right. The green has a very narrow mouth before widening. It has multiple little shelves on the back half. But much like the two previous par 3’s, there is not much that is memorable here.
13. Par 5 – 539/515. This is the hole I disliked the most on the course playing as a sharp dogleg right over a long, narrow pond that wraps itself around 80% of the right side of the fairway. For those trying to gain distance there is a pond on both of the corners of the turn of which neither one made sense to me. As one nears the green there is another central bunker about 90 yards from the green. This is followed by two bunkers on the left that look like they are at the front of the green but are actually set back ten yards. There is large bunker on the front right corner of the green. The green is long but thin, angled to the left. From the central bunker into the green I did like the hole, I simply did not appreciate the amount of defense in the first and second shots.
14. Par 4 – 425/392. There is an early crossing over a pond but essentially there is no water in play on this hole other than a waterway behind the tree line. There is a bunker left off the tee more in play for the longer hitters. The green has two bunkers on the front right. This is easily the most diabolical green on the course with a back right higher shelf that is almost impossible to get to from anyone from the front of the green. Of course our pin was just behind the bunkers on that smaller shelf which is about 2.5 feet above the green just before it. I loved the hole despite a three putt.
15. Par 4 – 432/416. This straight hole has no fairway bunkers and the pond is set about 80 yards before the green. The green is long but thin with a large front bunker and one at the rear. It is not a particularly memorable hole.
16. Par 4 – 342/331. This hole plays as a somewhat sharp dogleg left. There is water and scattered trees down both sides of the fairway. An arm of the pond from the thirteenth crosses in front of the green which is set above it about five feet. If one finds the middle of the fairway and slightly left of center they will get a favorable roll-out leaving less than a wedge. The green has a bunker on both front corners and a small one at the rear. This is again another green with excellent mounding and knobs just off a green that slopes sharply towards the water. Despite another double, I really liked the hole
17. Par 3 – 180/168. From an elevated tee perhaps 35 feet above the green, one plays to a green fronted again by a pond. There is a single bunker on the back middle of the green. It is a dramatic hole but there is not much interesting about it. The green does have subtle breaks in it.
18. Par 5 – 562/526. The tee shot needs to carry water with the pond continuing down the left side of the green. There is a fairway bunker down the left side that only the longest hitters need to consider. A pond comes into play for the second shot and approach shot on the right side continuing to the front of the green. Adding to the drama of the finishing hole is a large tree on the right that becomes a goalpost combined with the trees down the left. A final central bunker is about 75 yards from the green which has bunkers on all four corners. The mounding on the back side and right side of the green will stop a ball but will leave a slick downhill chip. While I liked the hole I felt it was a slightly made more difficult than it should have been, thereby leading to an unbalanced risk-reward hole.
Adios is a treat to play, mainly because it is an enjoyable walk in a lovely setting. The golf course is enhanced by the tightness of its fairways as well as some wonderfully done green surrounds. There is good variety to the holes with the exception of three of the holes having almost 90 degree turns at the corner of the property. The par 3’s are not as memorable here when compared to the par 4’s and 5’s.
Florida has the most golf courses of any state in the USA. On this site, Adios is rated the 85th best which seems at least 15 too low, possibly as much as 25. If one gets an invite here, they should definitely seek it out. I am certainly eager for another go at those final six holes.
The history and founding of Adios Golf Club is almost as interesting as the course itself. The property was originally owned by a spinster named Eleanor Ritchey. She was the childless gran daughter of the founder of Quaker State Oil. While childless she did lack for company. When she passed on in 1968 she had 150 dogs on property. Her will specified that the dogs were to receive everything.
In the late 1970s a group of businessmen, led by Delvin Miller, a harness racer from PA, were looking for a property in south Florida that was devoid of the classic Florida real estate gold development clutter. Miller tasked developer Charles MacCallum with finding a suitable property. It took almost a year to find the parcel that would be big enough for Adios golf course. Some of the original partners included Arnold Palmer, Dave Thomas (Wendy’s) and Whitey Ford. Construction started on the Palmer design in 1982The club still has a huge athlete presence. We played with Jason Taylor and I was told Arod was on the course.
It is not an excessively long course, from the tips it is around 6800 yards. The first hole is a dogleg right welcoming par five. Stay left off the tee. The par 4 2nd is a big bender left. It comes down to your appetite, while you have to carry water the bigger challenges are the two bunkers on the inside elbow. The par 4 3rd, while it is the number 5 handicap, can be an excellent birdie oppty. However, if the pin is tucked front left, don’t go pin seeking. There is a good chance you will end up in the water. Five is another dogleg left with water running down the entire left side. I think the play here is not to get greedy, favor the left side and you should still have a scoring iron approach. The par 5 6th is a par 5 that actually deserves to be the number one handicap hole. Tight landing area off the tee, with a bunker chasing you all the way down the right. A couple of strategically placed fairway bunkers will force you to think about what club to hit on your second shot. Last but not least this is a well protected green. Eight and nine require accurate drives and crisp approaches over water. On 8 left is safe, except for the fairway bunker. A strong aggressive drive down the right side will give you a green light. On the 9th the right side is the best angle into the green, however, be cognizant of the water hazard.
The 10th is a straight way, what you see is what you get. The 11th, once again a sold tee shot is required to set up an approach over water. The short par 3 12th is supposed to be the easiest on the course. We made no pars. The green is shaped like a bicycle seat with bunkers on each side of the nose. If the pin is front proceed with caution. The 13th is a good risk reward par 5. Dogleg right with lots of water. You can cut the corner but the fairway narrows significantly in what should be the landing zone. The number 2 handicap par 4 15th is a tough hole. Long, straight, tight and with another approach carry over water. The short par 4 dogleg left 16th is a fun birdie oppty hole. You can cut the corner, but the fairway narrows with another approach over water. The 17th is the ubiquitous Florida par 3 with carry over water. The 18th is a great finishing hole, a longer par five with danger lurking all around. A tight driving hole with fairway bunkers adding to the compression. Your second shot must clear the water hazard bisecting the fairway. You guessed it another approach over water!
Super golf course that I believe should be rated much higher.