. – Sun-soaked, golf-rich Orlando has long been a popular destination for “have clubs will travel” types from the Garden State. Direct flights from Newark and Philadelphia to Orlando’s MCO are abundant. And once they touch down, golfers can choose from wide array of high-quality courses.
Those willing to go the extra mile – or 35 miles north in this case – to the quaint college town of DeLand will find one of the Sunshine State’s most-decorated layouts lying in waiting. Since opening in 2001, Victoria Hills Golf Club has found its way on to “best of” lists from all the haute golf publications.
Lakeland-based Ron Garl designed the course, which sports some 50 feet of elevation change, thick strands of live oaks, Australian Sand Belt-like waste bunkering and hard-breaking Bermuda grass greens.
In other words, it bears little or no resemblance to the typical pancake flat, palm tree-lined Florida golf course. And while visually appealing to the average golfer, low and plus handicappers respectfully refer to Victoria Hills as a “players course.”
Stretching to nearly 7,000 yards and featuring a strong variety of hole lengths and routings, the course has hosted more than its fair share of flat-belly competitions over the years. The Stetson University men’s and women’s golf teams contest an annual invitational on site. The USGA recently tapped the course to host a U.S. Open local qualifier. And PGA TOUR player and Orlando resident Chris DiMarco regularly hones his game at Victoria Hills.
But fear not, average golfer. Two sets of tees play between 6,000 and 6,500 yards, and the amount of detail and strategy Garl poured into the course from these boxes is impressive. As is the case with so many great golf courses, rounds are made, salvaged and (alas) broken at Victoria Hills in and around the Tour-quality greens.
Post or pre-round, golfers flock to cozy Mulligan’s Tavern & Grille to sample executive chef Scot Choquette’s innovative twists on clubhouse food. Choquette, John Travolta’s former personal chef, serves up specialty soups, apps, sandwiches and even dinner entrees.
For tee times, more information and directions from MCO and downtown Orlando, visit www.stjoegolf.com
, or call (386) 738-6000.