Jefferson Country Club in Monticello: The price is right for nine or 18
MONTICELLO, Fla. - At the Jefferson Country Club, you can play nine holes for $21.
Or, if you're looking for a bargain, you can play a full 18 for ... $21.
It's also a private golf course with a sign out front that says "Members and guests only."
But, you, Joe Golfer, can play it. For $21. Just ask in the bar, which doubles as the pro shop.
The little nine-hole track is like a lot of courses in rural north Florida: Laid-back, not a stickler for rules. Just come on out, play golf, have a good time.
The cheap green fees and lax member policy are only a couple of good things about the course. Being in a rare, relatively hilly part of Florida, the course has some elevation changes most people wouldn't associate with the flat state.
Now, this isn't exactly Rocky Mountain golf here, but you will see some moderately uphill approach shots and a few downhill tee shots. You'll also get some decent views of the countryside, uncluttered with condos or pretty much any other buildings, this being in a backwoods part of a rural county.
The course itself isn't bad, especially for the rates. It's a design by William Amick, who's been building golf courses since the 1950s, making his golf architectural office the oldest in Florida.
Amick has, for years, been an advocate of smaller and more affordable courses, like nine-holers.
"Lots of these exist in rural areas and small towns," Amick says on his Web site. "... Properly positioned pairs of tee markers and two cups per green with separately colored flags for each nine adds interest to a second round at these courses."
The Jefferson golf course doesn't have the separate flags, but it does have different tees for each round. In some cases, unlike many other nine-hole courses I've played, there are entirely separate tee boxes, giving a completely different feel to the hole, at least in terms of the tee shot.
No. 3, for example, is a 174-yard par-3. At 151 yards, No. 12 is the same hole, but it has a more difficult tee shot because the angle is more awkward, and you have to thread a chute of trees.
The first hole is a 385-yard, sharp dogleg left. If you can carry the trees guarding the dogleg, you're looking at a wedge in. But, when it becomes No. 10, the blue tees are 20-30 yards back, making the risk-reward option more debatable.
The course opened in 1965, and like most courses that old, has seen its share of ups and downs. But, regulars say the conditions are good most of the time and have improved over the last year or so.
"That's a course I usually try to play when I'm over that way," said Jason Brennard, a salesman from Georgia. "I'll pass by several other courses to get to Monticello. I don't think you can really beat it for the price. I don't think many people know about it."
Jefferson Country Club: The verdict
Jefferson Country Club is one of the better nine-hole courses in this part of the north-central, non-Panhandle, non-Tallahassee, non-Lake City or non-Gainesville area. This mainly rural part of Florida has several of these small courses, and they can be a decent day of golf if you're not expecting a long, championship-caliber layout or resort-style conditioning.
It's a parkland course, on mildly rolling terrain, hemmed in by tall pines and oak trees. The greens are small with gentle slope and moderate undulation, and stopping your approach shots on some of them, particularly from a higher elevation, can be tough.
There are several holes that will get your attention, like the first, with its enticing dogleg, or the medium-length par-4 sixth. There's more room to the water than you think, though long hitters should consider a 3-wood here. Your approach to the green, off to the left, is over water and the closer you flirt with the lake, the more apt you are to have a short stick in your hand.
Both fairway and green tilt right to left on No. 2/11, and No. 7/16 is a par 5 with an uphill tee shot over a pond; the hole is heavily-treed on both sides.
February 13, 2008