Initial ThoughtsI owe a shoutout to a course I had the privilege of playing while in Orlando for the PGA Show. Billy Casper Golf connected me Kevin and I with Victoria Hills Golf Club, in DeLand, Florida, for a round on the house. We had high expectations since the course is ranked by GolfWorld as one of the Top 50 Public Courses To Play In America.
Date PlayedTuesday, January 26th, 2010
Value - 7.5Well, as you know, I played for free- but the normal cost of a round is $59 on a weekday and $65 on a weekend, making it quite reasonable considering the location and course quality. In fairness, I don't know all of the courses around Victoria Hills and their comparative quality, but I certainly wouldn't have any problem playing $59 to play on a somewhat regular basis at this course. They also offer generous mid-day and twilight rates for those looking to play a bit cheaper.
The one downside to value seemed to be in on-course expenses (though admittedly optional). Our playing partners paid $9.75 for a bloody mary and beers weren't much better. Seemed strange to have a relatively inexpensive course with Disney World drink prices.
Pace of Play - 7.0Pace-of-Play was impressive considering the crowd. I thought we played at a pretty good clip and until the end of the round we really didn't have to wait at all. The tee-times are well spaced and the staff uses their resources well (GPS cart monitoring) to make sure groups aren't clumped together from the start.
Course/Maintenance - 8.5The Ron Garl design has taken a bit of a beating this winter from some unseasonably cold weather in Florida, but considering the circumstances the course was in pretty great condition. The fairways and teeboxes were green and well maintained. The greens were a little slow, but still rolled pretty true.
The design of the course is fantastic and it's easy to see how it's received many accolades. It's fair but challenging and offers golfers of all levels an experience from a stroll through a pretty course to an absolutely beating from the tips at nearly 7000 yards. The course is setup as it should in terms of punishing you for bad shots but giving you a chance to score with good ones. It was great for first time (and one-time) players, which I'm sure the course receives a lot of being near Orlando, as blind shots are limited and the in-cart GPS units provide hole by hole layouts and hazards.
Hospitality - 6.0Hospitality was solid, though not great. The cart girl didn't make her way around nearly enough. We didn't see her until the 9th green and then she disappeared again until around the 15th. By then I just wanted to finish the round and find an off-site watering hole.
Though it's hard to knock a course for "over-hospitality" the biggest annoyance of my entire round was listening to the starter explain the course, the rules, and how the in-cart GPS systems worked. I realize a need for some explanation, but it was a 10 minutes conversation (no exaggeration) that I would've much rather spent stretching on or near the first tee box. Some people are going to love that, but I think I can figure out not to drive in front of signs that say "no carts."
Scenery - 8.0Victoria Hills Golf Club is pretty unique in that it winds through a somewhat residential area without any sort of intrusion or development coming into play. Driving up, I thought the course would wind through houses but it never did. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere (which if you look at DeLand on a map you kind of are). The course was well landscaped and had a little bit of everything, from bunkers to gorgeous trees and even a little water. The course is enrolled in Audubon International's Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses which doesn't necessarily speak to its beauty, but does show they care about their abuse of nature and the environment which I know some people care greatly about.
Overall - 8.1 (not an average)My overall experience at the course was good. The biggest factor for playing the course could be its location. Pitched as a course to play in the Orlando area, it's actually about 35 miles outside of the city. If you're coming from the southern sign of Orlando it's at least an hour of driving. Not bad for a nice course, but Orlando has a lot to offer a lot closer. The location does have some advantages though- as it can draw from other Florida attractions and cities such as Daytona Beach which is only about 40-45 minutes away.
If you're traveling to Orlando for a golf-specific trip I'd definitely say to put Victoria Hills on your list of courses to check out. I think from a value perspective you're going to get a lot more from this course for your dollar than say, a Disney course, but there are definitely options closer to Orlando if you only have time for 1 round to sneak in on a business trip.
Overall- it's a winner and I do look forward to playing the course again this spring when it's at 100%. Fortunately with family in the Orlando area I'll be able to make this happen.
[ comments ]
Sounds like the three of you had a good time.
At $9.75 for a bloody mary, why would you want the car girl to make more frequent visits?
Other than that , it seems like a great golf course
Thanks for the review, might have to check it out next week. Golf-golf-golf, my whole life is golf... (well at least for 7 days next week)
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Rory vs. Rooney (1)
Wild Golf (4)
10.0 - 9.5 World Class
9.4 - 8.5 Awesome
8.4 - 7.5 Very good
7.4 - 6.5 Above Average
6.4 - 4.5 Solid
4.4 - 3.5 Below Average
3.4 - 2.5 Save Your Money
2.4 - 0.0 Pay NOT to go