Southern Dunes Golf & Country Club was established in 1993 and was designed in a links-like style where the mounding is meant to emulate the sand dunes which are such a feature of British and Irish links courses. Steve Smyers was the architect of Southern Dunes and he’s used the undulating, sandy, free-draining site to good effect.
Massive traditional sand bunkers and blow-out-styled, tufty waste bunkers do not naturally go hand-in-hand, but they work pretty well here at Southern Dunes alongside the occasional strategic water hazard. The greens are large, well contoured, slick and true, so you’ve only got your trusty putter to blame if you’re having a bad day on these greens.
What you see is what you get. There are no tricks at Southern Dunes, nothing is hidden, and everything is fairly laid out in front of you. But you’ll need to keep your shots in play and hit it long to card a decent score. Southern Dunes is a 7,227-yard monster from the black tees, so put your ego to one side and choose the right tee for your ability otherwise you will experience a torrid time.Southern Dunes is located a few miles to the south of Orlando, pack your hot putter and your favourite sand wedge for an incredible value golf experience, especially if you bag one of their bargain twilight rates.
A Steve Smyers design it opened in 1993 and was redesigned by Smyers in 2016. From the tips it is long, over 7200 yards. It does have 5 tee options and this course plays hard and fast, to the point where you do not think you can reach a hazard and inevitably your ball rolls in. I was surprise d by how much dirt was moved in the course creation, over 400,000 cubic yards. This creates the illusion you are in the Sand Hills of NC not central Fl. The fairways and the greens are large and there are almost 200 bunkers.
I would not characterize the first hole as welcoming. A straightaway 426-yard (back tees) with bunkers right in the landing area and a Big Ass Bunker left. As there are so many of these, I wil just refer to them as BABs. The 2nd should be an easy hole, bomb it over the bunkers. With a staggered bunker complex, starting about 180 on the left, 200 on the right and then another on the left with a 240 clear, it appears tougher than it is. The 555-yard fourth and the 378-yard fifth have gaggles of bunkers that enter play diagonally On the 4th stay left of these bunkers on your second shot to give you the best approach. The 5th looks like your drive should avoid the bunker cluster right, however, then you must carry the water hazard on the right. I think a better drive favors the left side. The par 3 6th is polarizing. You either love it or hate it. Off the elevated tee there is a large mound on the left side. The green is protected right by a trio of bunkers. The 7th is a long uphill par 4 and is the number one handicap. Dogleg left with bunkers on the inside elbow. I would advise taking an extra club on your approach. The par 4 8th is somewhat a reprieve even though it has 3 BABs. Carry one off the tee, one running the length of your approach on the right and one short left. The 9th looks and is rated harder than it is. Avoid the BAB right and stay left with your second shot to give you a true green light approach.
The back starts with a bang, the longest par 4. There is a bunker complex on the right side and the hole narrows considerably the closer you get to the green. The par 5 12th will be hard to reach in two unless you are a stallion and have no fear of a 200 + yard carry over water. In addition to the water hazard, the 12th has 12 bunkers. The par 3 14th is the shortest of the par 3s, all you have to do is hit the green, pay no attention to all those bunkers. The short par 4 15th may be your best shot at birdie on the way in. Make sure you are short of the bunkers on the right. The par 5 16th has a huge fairway but it also has 3 BABs and a huge mound in front of the green. Play conservative and make sure you hit the right club on your approach. I think this is the most undulating green on the course. What you see is pretty much what you get on 17, straight away with two BABs. This green does not hold as well as the others as it slopes front to back and to the right. The finishing hole is a dogleg right and it should not come as a surprise, but there are a boatload of bunkers protecting a ginormous green.
This is not your typical FL course in that I think there are only 3 holes that have water. When you drive in you may think you are lost as you are going through a commercial and then residential area. Just as you are prepared to give up you should see some golf holes. Also, while there are lots of hoses on the course, the good news is they are well removed from play. Having said that, I never under estimate the high quality of bad golf shots that people are inexplicably capable of hitting. Lastly, be prepared for a lllllloooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggg round, especially if you are there between December and April. Off-season it is a good value, in season, not so much.
With all due respect, this is not close to a links course