Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club sits within an enormous 1,300-acre property which lies ten miles west of downtown Ocala, one of the main breeding and training centres for horses in all of America.
Here, in the gently rolling hills of Central Florida, the residents of this gated community enjoy a number of top class sporting amenities including a state of the art fitness centre, six floodlit tennis courts, a heated outdoor swimming pool, an equestrian centre with 20-stall barn and, of course, a championship-standard golf course designed by architect Ron Garl.
The 18-hole layout features replica holes from a number of famous courses. The best of these tribute holes is the 4th (based on the “Postage Stamp” par three at Royal Troon (Old)), the par threes at 6 and 11 (replicating the par three 16th and 12th at Augusta National) and the long par four 13th, which imitates the “Road Hole” on the St Andrews (Old) course.The opening LPGA Tour event of the 2015 season was held at Golden Ocala, with Yeon Choi winning the inaugural Coates Golf Championship, the eighth career victory for the South Korean golfer as a professional golfer.
North central Florida gets little attention because it's not immediately near one of the main metro areas of The Sunshine State. But, the immediate Ocala area is blessed with some quality land -- it's not called the horse country of Florida for nothing. While plenty of attention is paid to nearby Black Diamond, Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club is certainly no second banana.
The facility pays homage to a number of well known holes from a variety of much celebrated courses. Places like Augusta National, The Old Course at St. Andrews, Baltusrol, Muirfield, Royal Troon, among them.
The replicas for the 12th and 13th at Augusta are indeed very good.
But the qualities of the course extend beyond just the copycat hole versions. The outward side is no easy venture -- often fairways are narrow and require adroit positioning so one's approach angle can be bolstered. This is especially so with the opening hole, the 2nd, and 7th thru 9th holes.
The inward half showcases an array of the replica holes. The 17th and 1st from the Old Course are used when you reach the 13th and 14th holes respectively. They are good for what they provide but less so than the ones from Augusta.
The ending is quite good -- two solid par-4s with a closing risk/reward par-5. The only downside is that the holes follow the same north to south direction.
As I said at the outset -- few people likely visit the Ocala area. For those who do - and can secure access -- a visit to both Black Diamond and Golden Ocala will certainly be worth one's time and effort.
M. James Ward