DAVENPORT, Fla. -- I'm standing on the tightly mown seventh fairway at Providence Golf Club about to hit another one of my patented 6-iron worm burners when I pause to admire the amazing sight about 50 yards away.
Several wild turkeys are dawdling across the fairway in no particular hurry to let me proceed in my futility.
After the round, when I tally up all my bogeys and double bogeys, I want a stiff shot of Wild Turkey to drown my sorrows, but that's another story. Make no mistake, I blame myself -- not the course -- for my erratic play.
Located in Davenport, Fla., not exactly a golf mecca, Providence is actually situated just a few miles from the high-profile ChampionsGate resort and Reunion Resort & Club. Davenport is 10 miles from the Walt Disney World tourism corridor and 36 miles from Orlando.
Providence Golf Club: Mike Dasher's natural touch
Providence Golf Club is set in Providence, a 2,200-acre upscale residential community.
Measuring 6,920 yards from the back tees (Black), the course plays to par 72. It was designed by Winter Park-based golf course architect Mike Dasher, who also designed nearby layouts such as Crane's Bend and the Reserve at Orange Lake Resort.
Dasher's design philosophy is aimed at making sure 'the course should blend in with the surroundings, incorporating the nature features of the site. The man-made features should appear natural.'
At Providence, Dasher has accomplished his goal in stellar fashion.
Dasher's innovative mounding and bunkering enhances the multi-faceted site dotted with mature oak trees, wetlands, fresh water creeks and lakes. Moreover, he utilizes expansive native sand areas and tall grasses to add beauty and challenge to the layout.
There's little question that Dasher made the golf course appear as natural as possible.
Just ask the animals. The evidence of his success is the amazing amount of wildlife you'll see throughout your round.
'One of the most common things I hear from our customers upon finishing their round is the many alligators they see,' said Bryan Harrell, Providence's assistant golf professional. 'In addition to the gators, we've seen turkeys, sand hill cranes, raccoons, bobcats, otters and wild hogs.'
On the front nine there are some holes with homes framing the fairways. The back nine has a classic parkland feel with no homes, several lakes and heavily wooded wetland backdrops.
Providence Golf Club: Course strategy
While some holes at Providence are forgiving off the tee with large landing areas, you'll need to put lots of thought into a strategy once you pull driver from your bag.
'I feel the best strategy towards playing the course is placement of the tee shots,' Harrell said. 'There are quite a few holes where you need to play from the green backwards, by figuring out how long of a shot you feel comfortable with going in to the green and then playing your tee shot accordingly.'
Amenities at Providence Golf Club
The Providence clubhouse -- with its white columns, tile roof and impeccable landscaping -- is a welcoming site to golfers.
One of the highlights of the total golf experience at Providence is a post-round lunch at the Grille Room, a tastefully furnished restaurant with dark wood appointments, ornate ceiling, elegant wall art, designer carpeting and an impressive wooden bar.
Among the more popular menu choices for lunch are the New York Strip steak sandwich, Reuben, grilled beef burger, and fish and chips. Dinner entrees include a 12 oz. center cut pork chop and chicken piccata. They've also got daily specials.
Providence Golf Club: The verdict
Mike Dasher is at the top of his game at Providence. He created a residential community course with a unique personality that's playable to residents and visitors with lots of sizzle and creativity on every hole.
My favorite holes were no. 5, a short par 4 measuring only 281 yards from the blue tees that encourages a grip-it-and-rip-it drive; no. 8, a 135-yard (blue tees) par 3 with a green that slopes radically from left to right; and no. 16, a 395-yard (blue tees) picturesque par 4 that combines beauty, an elevated tee and a scenic lake to create an exceptional fun-to-play hole.
Harrell said the seventh, a 445-yard par 4, is the hole he enjoys the most.
'One of the most challenging holes on the course, it calls for a perfect tee shot,' he said. 'A pond guards the right side of the fairway, while sawgrass and bunkers line the entire left side. With a long bomb off the tee you can clear the pond, but the shorter hitters must be able to shape the ball. It's one of those 'only bite off what you can chew' sort of holes.'
Summing up the Providence golf experience succinctly, he said, 'We offer great customer service with a spectacular golf adventure highlighted by a variety of nature.'