Frederica Golf Club is sprawled across a massive 340-acre site that is set within a private residential community on Lake Frederica, which forms part of the 400 acres of interconnected waterways that traverse the entire property. Frederica is a fisherman’s paradise with lakes stuffed full of trophy bass and the most impressive boathouse we’ve ever seen is the centrepiece of the aquatic scene.
Created for Sea Island heir Bill Jones by Tom Fazio, who received a helping hand from former R&A Secretary, Sir Michael Bonallack, Frederica is a big golf course with a capital B. No doubt using St Andrews as a benchmark, Fazio/Bonallack built some of the biggest greens in the USA, reputedly the biggest ever created by Fazio.
The front nine is perhaps the weakest link at Frederica but it contains a number of strong par fours. It’s the back nine that gets the juices flowing and there’s water, water everywhere waiting to claim your golf balls.
The risk-and-reward finale is perhaps the best hole on the course. It’s a reachable par five that doglegs to the left, tempting the bigger hitters to have a go at the green in two, but only the best hitters will prevail as the green juts out into water.
Frederica opened in 2005 and is the younger sister to Ocean Forest, the course that opened ten years earlier and changed the direction of Sea Island.
Frederica Golf Club is magnificent. Wonderful setting, humungous fast greens and high end. The first hole is a welcoming par four that leans right. There is water down the left side so not quite as welcoming for us hookers. There is a fairway bunker on the right elbow about 170 yards out. The green has a front and right bunker and water left. The 2nd leans left with water down the left side. The fairway slopes right to left so favor right of center off the tee and there are also two fairway bunkers right. There are also trees left, so too far left and you may be blocked out. The green has a front center bunker and the green slopes right to left, aim about five yards right of the flag stick. The third leans left and is the longest par four. There are two fairway bunkers left, thus favor the right side. This will still leave you with a long valley approach to an undulating green with a front bunker. In my opinion, this should be the number one handicap hole. The first par five is the number one handicap hole. Stay left of the right fairway bunker off the tee. Big hitters may be able to get home and the only real risks are bunkers. On the second shot, play to the right of the two left fairway bunkers that start at about 190 yards out. A good target line is the last fairway bunker on the right, pick your favorite wedge yardage. Three average shots and you are putting for birdie. The first par three is the number 17 handicap hole with a huge evil incarnate green shaped like a bicycle seat. Bunkers front right, left and rear with collection areas on both sides. Two four putts in our group. The 6th is the shortest par four to an elevated green. Consider laying up off the tee as the fairway bunkers right start about 90 yards out. The 7th is the longest par five and bends left. The fairway bunker on the inside elbow is more than 50 yards long, do not be greedy. Play it as a three shotter, on your second shot pick your favorite attack wedge yardage. The 8th is the longest par three at 237 yards. A redan green with bunker front and one rear. Don’t be ashamed to hit driver. The 9th is a long reverse S par four. Favor the right side of the fairway off the tee. Stay left of the large tree to the right of the fairway. A big drive can clear the ridge and trundle down the slope and leave a mid to short iron in. The rest of us will have long approaches in to a green with a deep front left bunker.
The back starts with a hole that reminded me a lot of the first hole, albeit 40 yards longer. I think I need to work on short term memory loss as I hooked the ball into the respective water hazards off the tee. The 11th is a mid-length Florida par three. The 12th is the shortest par four on the back. A slight water carry, but a fairway bunker on the left starting about 150 out and one on the right about 120 out pinch the landing zone. Consider laying up. This is another well protected green with right front and left bunkers. The right leaning 13th is a classic sucker’s hole with a water hazard on the right that taunts you to cut some of it off. Fortunately, I hit last in our group and after watching three consecutive splashes I decided to play it conservatively. Of course, with my hook, I still had to start the ball out over the hazard but it did come back and bounced as opposed to splashed. I still had a mid-iron in, so play this hole smart. The 14th is the shortest par three and the number 18 handicap hole. My favorite hole and my only birdie. Coincidence? Good thing I called pbfu on the tee box of 15. The shortest, straightest par five and I mucked it up. Yes, there is a water hazard down the left side, two fairway bunkers right and assorted trees are lurking, but three average shots should set up a birdie putt. The 16th bends left to an elevated green with a bunker that is close to 50 yards long on the inside elbow. Favor the right off the tee. The 17th leans right and has a generous landing area to the left of the right fairway bunker that starts about 170 yards out. The green has bunkers front left and right. The 18th is a fun reachable par five that bends left around the water hazard. The fairway bunker in the middle of the fairway is about 240 yards out. Left is a more aggressive play and a large tree squeezes the fairway. Right of the fairway will leave a longer approach and if you are going for it, it is just about all carry. If you don’t have a green light lie aim at the right fairway bunker which will leave you with a flip wedge. This green is shaped like a diamond with about 40% of the lower part perched in the water hazard. It is also protected by a boomerang shaped bunker wrapped around the right and rear and another one thrown in for good measure. Super golf course.
This is a fun and demanding golf course. I really liked the back nine and 18 is a thinking mans hole, which explains my bogey. If you can get on you gotta go!