Looking for trouble? Try LPGA Legends course

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — You have to be a man, or at least a helluva lady, to play the two courses here at LPGA International, the home of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

LPGA Legends course
The LPGA Legends course is an Arthur Hills design.
LPGA Legends courseAn Arthur Hills designLPGA Legends course
If you go

The Legends course is not overly long at 6,984 yards from the back tees, but carries a difficult slope rating of 142. Even from the blues, it's 136 and from the whites 132. The reason: trouble.

"This is a golf course that can gobble up golf balls," said resident pro Joe Giomariso. "You can lose it every hole, every shot.".

That's where it differs from the Champions course, which has a more open, links-style layout. The Legends is a shot-makers course, with danger lurking pretty much everywhere you look. Even seemingly innocent-looking holes can land you in stir.

Like the relatively benign third hole, a 165-yard par 3 that features a table-top green. If you miss, it's a hard up-and-down, with deep drop-offs and swales.

Another par 3, the 207-yard seventh, has a bunker left and if you miss right, chances are your ball will bounce off the steep drop and roll across the cart path, where trees will block your shot back to the green.

This is target golf and if you miss the target, forget about it. If you're accurate, Legends can be an easy course.

It's certainly a beautiful course, and big, though dwarfed in sheer acreage by the Champions. The Legends was designed by Arthur Hills, who may be second only to Pete Dye as far as looking to get you in a mess.

No. 18 is a good example. Rated as the No. 1 handicap hole, it can be a bear if you hit left behind the huge oak tree guarding the dogleg left. Too far right, and you're facing a long-iron through a narrow chute of trees to the green. But, if your drive is long and precise, you're looking at a mid or even wedge in, over the marsh.

"You have to ignore what you see around you," Giomariso said. "If you drive it well, it's an easy hole. If you don't, you lay up and take your four or five."

It's a beautifully-designed course, if you like target golf, with rolling, fairly narrow fairways lined with thick trees, oak and pine, and nasty stands of palmetto, as well as a variety of wetlands that are mostly lateral. Rarely does a hole look like the last. Some of the par 5s have greens that sit at angles to the fairways, making them tricky to reach in two.

The greens roll true, and are fast — about a nine on the stimpmeter — with good slope and undulation, though not as undulating as, say, the Halifax Plantation course.

"We tend to try and keep them tournament-style," Giomariso said. "They're a little faster than your average public course."

Opened in 1998, the course sits way out in the west Volusia County woodlands, with nary a home in sight, though that will change soon with all the home construction planned.

The Verdict

Green fees range from $75 to $100 with twilight rates at $50-$60, and that appears to be about right; this is a big-league course, with impeccable conditioning and a great deal of challenge.

"To me, it's one of the nicest public courses going," said golfer Jerry Michaelson. "These are the only two courses I play."

The multi-million-dollar clubhouse has an excellent restaurant — try the seafood marinara — and there's also a snack bar, as well as a full practice facility and golf academy.

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, 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.

The resort caters to families and has a children's activities program. They also offer volleyball, bocce ball, basketball, shuffleboard and horseshoes. There are about 20 golf courses within a 30-minute drive.

Dining Out

There's a small, casual restaurant adjacent to Perry's that serves breakfast and lunch. For fine dining, try Rains Supper Club on Seabreeze — oh, you absolutely must try the Chilean sea bass — which opens up a night club upstairs after 9 p.m.

Daytona Beach has a number of excellent restaurants, among them: the Bonefish Grill, Chops, and the Inlet Harbor Marina and Restaurant.

Fast Fact

The LPGA facility hosted its last major tournament in 2000.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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