Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club south of Jacksonville: Every hole presents a different challenge
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- There is no doubt that Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club is a tough course. Designed by Mark McCumber in the mid 1980s, it is a sophisticated track that requires a lot of calculations to have your ball end up where you intended.
It's presently down to 18 holes from 27 because "the No. 7 green on the Blue Course was eaten by something," as Assistant Professional Randy Harrington describes it. So, the club closed the more remote nine holes on the Red Course until early July, with the exception of its ninth hole that pinch-hits for Blue No. 7. They also renumbered the remaining holes 1-18 to help golfers navigate.
"We're just rebuilding one green," said Josh Anderson, head professional at Magnolia Point, which is located south of Jacksonville. "We're still maintaining that nine, but we didn't want to go with a temporary green or an eight-hole track. That's why we closed that nine."
The course is well marked to get you around the White Course, then the Blue Course, but you might not want to walk it. There are a few treks between holes that aren't very pedestrian friendly.
Each hole presents a different challenge, be it steep drop-offs next to fairways or grassy pits paired with bunkers at greens, so you have to pick your poison. There isn't an easy putt on the course farther than three feet because of San Francisco-like sloping. If you parked your cart on those greens, you would point your tires toward the curb.
Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club opens in dramatic fashion, especially the second hole, a descending par 3 surrounded by deep trouble. In front of the green are enormous mounds that will send your ball careening anywhere but toward the green. To the left and rear is a drop-off to a forest carpeted with think underbrush, and to the right is a raised bunker. It's no cakewalk on the green, either, given its sharp slope from back to front. Just tap that ball and watch it fly.
One of the most memorable holes on the golf course is the third, a par 4 with elevated tees to a thin drop-away fairway just past the 150-yard marker, then a swoop left down to an offset green guarded with a bevy of bunkers. It's tough judging distance. Hit the far side of the fairway on your drive and you'll gain distance and rough.
For the rest of the course, you'll encounter fairways that flare, contract, rise, fall or tilt and trees that butt into your path. Water may appear across a fairway (like on White No. 9) or more commonly, lurk to the side of a green. Greens sometimes rise above your head (No. 14) or descend into an abyss (the par-3 15th). A given, though, is that greens will slope.
The hole now marked 10, which really is No. 9 on the Red Course, requires a water carry that must avoid any slice, or else your shot will reside in a string of bunkers on the right side of the fairway or water past that. The best approach to the kidney-shaped (sloped, of course) green is from the left. It's an interesting hole.
The closing hole insists that you stay right, or else fall off the side of the fairway that slopes left, or into a bunker short of the green. There isn't a lot of room to work with, given the wall of earth and woods on the right.
"The course is never boring," said member Bart Wood. "It's very tight. It has wonderful golf architecture. The greens are old, but there are still good."
"It's not a typical Florida course with open fairways and palm trees. There are some elevation changes," said Anderson. "The course is on the tight side. It demands some accurate tee shots. There are no parallel fairways, so all you're looking at is the hole you're on. There's some water, but not a lot of carries. It's fair for any skill level."
Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club has five tee sets, ranging under the current configuration from 4,869 to 6,793 yards.
Anderson singled out No. 9 on the White Course -- the "marsh hole" with a carry to the green -- as a signature hole.
Cary Hanley said as a woman, the course is long, especially if playing off the red tees, which top 5,534 yards. Three tees are rated for women.
"It's a challenging course," she said. "It rewards good shots and punishes bad shots. You can't get away with anything on this course."
Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club: The verdict
Magnolia Point is a sophisticated, complex course that requires a lot of thought to get around. Each hole presents different challenges that will dictate where your ball will roll -- or abruptly stop. Bring some extra balls and your thinking cap -- you'll need them.
March 8, 2011