Architect Ron Garl has been designing courses since the early 1970s and around a third of his activity (involving more than eighty courses) has taken place in the state of Florida. The 18-hole layout at Victoria Hills is one of his more celebrated projects in the Sunshine State and it’s garnered a number of awards from a variety of golf publications since it opened at the start of the new millennium.
Described by one commentator as having “a feeling of courses in the Carolinas,” the Victoria Hills course is set out on a gently undulating landscape and its sandy-soiled fairways are routed around Augusta Pines, majestic oaks and stands of other mature trees. Water comes into play at several of the holes, most notably on the stretch between the 13th and 17th.Highlight holes include the par threes at the 3rd and 7th and the par five 15th, where water threatens both the tee shot and the approach to the green. Both nines conclude with demanding par fives; the 552-yard 9th doglegging downhill to the right and the 554-yard heading uphill towards the clubhouse.
If friends were asking me where to play golf between Orlando and Jacksonville Victoria Hills would not even cross my mind. If they were to ask, my response would be, "Don't go there." This may have at one point been the belle of the ball, if so, she needs a facelift. Course conditions were subpar, pace of play was so slow I was afraid we may get arrested for loitering. I have seen glaciers mover faster than the group ahead of us. The layout has merit, but sadly, on this economic golf environment i would be surprised if the downward trend does not continue. To the course:
The first hole is welcoming, favor the right off the tee. The 2nd hole is a tough, narrow par four. Off the tee left is better. The par 4 4th is an interesting hole, the further you hit your drive the more the water hazard on the left comes into play. If you are too far right, you are blocked out and if you are too far left you are wet. The par 5 5th, other than being tight, should not be the number 2 handicap hole. Three mediocre shots will give you a shot a birdie. The 6th-8th are excellent birdie oppties. The 9th is another really tight par 5. All you need are three mediocre shots and you are putting for birdie.
Even though the back is shorter than the front, I think it plays much tougher. The 10th is a long par 4 that is deservedly the number 3 handicap hole. The par 4s 12th and 13th are your birdie holes, The 14th is peculiar, is it a long par 3? From the two back tees yes, 221 and 214 respectively. The nest tee is 124!?! The strength of the layout are the last four holes. The par 5 15th by far was my favorite hole, dogleg left, carry over water, water left on and bunkers right on the second shot. Super hole, other than being a par 5 with the number one handicap. The par 4s 16 and 17 are almost opposite hand, dogleg left and right.
If you paid my greens fee, I would pass (unless i could outhustle you on the bet)