Mountain Lake is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets and was originally listed on this website in October 2006 as a hidden gem. Since then, we have expanded our Florida Best In State listings and this 1916 Seth Raynor classic has finally made it onto a ranking list.
Located in the Central Florida lake region, Mountain Lake is part of a community that dates back to 1915. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. whose dad was considered the “father of American landscape architecture” designed it.
The course itself is a quintessential classic but it took significant restoration effort at the turn of the new millennium by Brian Silva – aided by vintage aerial photography – to rediscover lost Raynor bunkers and greens that had been improperly modified over the years.
Mountain Lake can now hold claim to being an authentic, classical Seth Raynor course, which will no doubt become more widely recognised.
I came to this course by surprise when hosting a LACC and Philly Cricket Member in Argentina and Uruguay last year. Since then my friend suggested me that this course was a must play and I just waited for his ok to do it. In the meanwhile I read a lot of stuff about it and it was unanimous that this one was a very special course from the Golder Era so I moved forward and arranged it.
It was not the typical 4hs round with three other players, walking and experiencing the course together but just myself, after flying the night before from Buenos Aires and then driving for 4hs to the course. And it was literally jumping off the course, changing my shoes and directly to the first tee in maybe one of the final days of the season with no more than 20 players on the course, the Club House already closed for renovation and even the 19th Hole Bar closed. All of this on a hot humid day with millions of bugs hanging around and sticking to your legs in pairs, I believe it was reproduction season!!
I played 2 rounds, almost consecutive, each of them in around 2hs, on my own with a cart. Is this the best way to enjoy a course? No, but probably the best to analize it, take your time to watch every detail and just be amazed by the features Raynor created 100 years ago and still remain untouched and quite challenging for the game for today’s technology.
In the names of the holes you will find them all: Double Plateau, Alps, Biarritz, Road, Short, Eden, Redan, Punch Bowl, Carry, Raynor … and there are some of them that are even the best of their model.
Will try to point out the best ones:
- Par 3 5th Biarritz, extremely long green where there can be a 3/4 clubs difference from short to long pin position, with OB on the left as well.
- Par 5 8th Raynor with a hidden lake which is not seen from the fairway has a very tough green to judge.
- Par 3 11th Redan is just GREAT, I was both times just short of the green with a short pin and both times a decent chip went 5mts past the hole.
- Par 4 15th Punch Bowl maybe the best green, both times hit very good shots from 50yds and the putts I faced downhill were just frightening fast.
- Par 4 18th facing club House with a nice name Colony House due to the style of the construction is just very good finale, up the hill and again tough to judge exact distance.
A Great experience and another lesson of golf architecture learned, length is not necessary to make quality. Mountain Lake is one of those great examples!