Naturally, you must play golf on Florida's Nature Coast

By Travel ArticlesNovember 21, 2012, 4:09 pm

Do you want to incorporate some hiking, boating, fishing and wildlife viewing in your next Florida golf experience?

Head to the Nature Coast, the aptly named, less-traveled region on the upper western coast of the state brimming with almost 400 freshwater springs, dense hardwood forests, marshlands, rolling hills and pristine Gulf of Mexico waters.

For golfers, the menu includes layouts designed by architects like Tom Fazio, John Sanford and Mark Mahannah in a variety of resort, daily-fee and residential community settings.

Excellent recreation options off the course are available on the Nature Coast, which is approximately a 90-minute drive north of Tampa and is often called the Big Bend.

The area's main attractions include Crystal River (home to the greatest concentration of manatees in Florida), Homosassa Springs (where you can see live mermaid shows), Dunnellon (with its 100-year-old historic homes) and Cedar Key (a quaint, historic fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico).

Golf in Brooksville

Let's face it, this laid-back little town doesn't immediately spring to mind when the conversation is great Florida golf courses.

That said, you'd be amazed at the award-winning golf possibilities in Brooksville.

Just about every major golf publication and Web site rates World Woods Golf Club as one of Florida's top 10 golf courses, and it also appears on many top 100 course lists in the U.S.

You have your choice of two Fazio designs at World Woods, which debuted in 1993: Pine Barrens, a visually stunning layout sculpted through an expansive pine forest with dramatic changes in elevation and creative waste bunkering, evokes a Pine Valley in New Jersey feel. World Woods' Rolling Oaks Course has a distinctly different ambiance with giant oak trees draped with Spanish moss and bleached white-sand bunkers.

The practice facilities at World Woods are equally impressive with a sprawling, circular, 20-acre driving range with grass teeing stations on four sides and three practice holes.

If you like Rolling Oaks, you'll also enjoy Hernando Oaks Golf & Country Club, a Brooksville daily-fee layout designed by Scott Pate (the brother of U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate), where picturesque giant oak trees draped with Spanish moss and native grass areas offer challenge and beauty on every hole.

Brooksville Country Club touts itself as 'a little hard to find but impossible to forget.' This 18-hole layout has a traditional tree-lined front nine followed by a Bobby Weed-designed back nine that has several holes framed by the sheer rock walls of an abandoned limestone mine.

If you want more play amid deep rock quarries, try the newly renovated Quarry Golf Course, a scenic nine-hole executive layout with seven par-3 holes and two par 4s. It's inexpensive and there's also a driving range and batting cage.

Golf in Crystal River

The venerable Plantation Inn & Golf Resort, with its white columned inn set on 232 acres of lush preserve land, conjures up images of southern hospitality and friendliness, and that's just what you get along with some excellent golf and superb diving and fishing opportunities.

A host for several North Florida PGA events over the years, the Mahannah-designed Championship Course at Plantation Inn weaves around dozens of natural lakes and loblolly pines. There's also a short Lagoons nine-hole course that is ideal for juniors and novices, as well as low-handicappers who want to sharpen their iron games.

A longtime favorite in Crystal River is Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club, a William Amick design that opened in 1968.

For those with member connections, the celebrated private Black Diamond Ranch in nearby Lecanto is home to 45 holes of Fazio-designed golf fashioned around abandoned limestone quarries and hilly terrain.

Golf in Dunnellon

Fifteen miles northeast of Crystal River is the town of Dunnellon, where the Rainbow River merges with the Withlacoochee River. Golf is an important component in recreation offerings here, which include snorkeling, canoeing and hiking at Rainbow Springs State Park.

Jupiter, Fla.-based course architect Sanford is the designer of Juliette Falls, a classic parkland layout dotted with large, mature oak trees and high-profile features such as four waterfalls and waste bunkers with crushed white coquina shells peppered with wire grasses and shrubbery. Accented with some significant elevation changes, Juliette Falls is an excellent inland Florida golf experience.

Remindful of tree-laden North Carolina layouts, Citrus Springs Golf & Country Club has rolling terrain, oak tree-lined fairways and several elevated tees.

If you're tired of hitting shots in the wet stuff, play Rainbow Springs Golf & Country Club, a Joe Lee design with lots of mature trees, well-placed bunkers and no water hazards.

Golf in Inverness

Forget the flat Florida golf course stereotype with the Inverness Golf & Country Club, which has naturally hilly terrain, mature tree growth and attractive landscaping with shrubs and colorful flowers.

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Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.