Daytona Beach Golf Club: Come one, come all
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - They used to show up at the Daytona Beach's municipal golf course at 3 a.m., hunched up in their lawn chairs or even camping out - everybody waiting for a tee time.
Of course, this was a century ago, when the muni was pretty much the only game in town. You couldn't make a tee time for the next day until after 4 p.m., and then they only filled half the tee sheets. To get on the other half, you had to get up earlier than the birds that flocked to the city well before the first light of dawn. You had to beat the crowds when the doors opened at 6 a.m. if you wanted to play that day.
The Daytona Beach Golf Club is no Bethpage, but it is pretty much everything you're looking for in a municipal course: good conditioning, a fair challenge, cheap green fees, an active involvement with youth and, above all, the ability to handle the hordes, those hundreds and thousands of golfers who want to play but aren't willing or able to pony up for the more expensive courses.
"We're set up to handle large crowds," Cameron said of the muni's two 18-hole courses, the North and South. "The more golfers there are, the better it works."
Old-timers remember when the two courses would host 179,000 rounds in a year - that's a massive amount of play. Now it's down around 100,000, still extremely impressive when you consider the course is trying to upgrade its facilities and cater more to the individual golfer.
"We're taking the course in a different direction," Cameron said. "We're trying to get away from the factory mentality."
Cameron said the city is committed to the upgrade, which will include an improved irrigation system and new greens on the South course, among other things.
"You should have seen it seven years ago," Cameron said. "It was nothing but weeds."
The club has been steadily improving since then, to the point most golfers seem to feel they are getting plenty of bang for their 40 bucks.
"For a public course, it's in good shape," said Mike Finneran, playing with his friend, Dale Ober. "They work hard at it."
Daytona Beach Golf Club is a bargain for $40. You won't get the manicured conditions or hustling ball boys you see at ritzier facilities, but the course is in top shape for a muni and it has its share of good golf holes.
Both courses are short (6,338 and 6,229 yards); regulars say the North course is a little harder and a little more scenic. The greens are a bigger and faster and it has more water than the South.
The greens have a tendency to get slow and bumpy in summer, a problem course officials hope the pending upgrade will ameliorate. The course is in the heart of Daytona Beach, so you will get some traffic noise and the occasional rumbling of a train passing through the South course, but hey, it's part of the ambience.
Stay and Play
When you come to a place with "beach" in its name, you want to actually see it, right? Perry's Ocean Edge Resort comes through in that respect, sitting smack dab on the Atlantic Ocean; you can hear the waves crashing on shore from your room or balcony.
The resort, one of Daytona Beach's biggest, has more than 700 feet of landscaped oceanfront, a whirlpool/spa, two outdoor pools with a poolside bar and a heated indoor pool in a 10,000 square-foot atrium. It also has home-made doughnuts in the mornings that I defy you to pass up.
Perry's caters to families and has a children's activities program. It also offers volleyball, bocce ball, basketball, shuffleboard and horseshoes. There are about 20 golf courses within a 30-minute drive.
There is a small, casual restaurant adjacent to Perry's that serves breakfast and lunch. For fine dining, try Rains Supper Club on Seabreeze (the Chilean sea bass is a must), which also operates an upstairs nightclub from 9 p.m. Other first-rate choices are the Bonefish Grill, Chops and the Inlet Harbor Marina and Restaurant.
Donald Ross designed the South course, the original 18, which opened in 1921. The North was built and designed by Slim Deathridge in 1946, and rebuilt in 1997.
March 24, 2006