Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club in Crystal River: A traditional central Florida design that's playable and challenging for all skill levels

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. -- Long-time members at Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club in the fishing-happy town of Crystal River like to quip that the course has "golf with benefits." Those benefits include abundant wildlife such as egrets, turtles, eagles, coyote and alligators, and picturesque water features and trees on every hole.

Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club
Nature is the star at Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club in Crystal River, Fla.
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"The benefit for visitors is we pride ourselves on our friendliness where everyone feels welcome," Head Professional Troy Suarez said. "We have lots of golfers who play here and return because they feel comfortable and like the playability of the course."

Seven Rivers: setting and design

Opened in 1968, Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club was designed by Daytona Beach course architect Bill Amick, whose other notable Florida golf courses include Halifax Plantation in Ormond Beach, Seminole Golf Course in Tallahassee and Hidden Lakes in New Smyrna Beach.

Seven Rivers is a classic, flat, traditional Florida design with fairways framed by large mature oaks draped with Spanish moss, tall palms, pine and magnolia trees and water incorporated on 17 of the 18 holes.

Greens and tees at Seven Rivers are situated close together, and the lack of hilly terrain makes it an excellent course for walking enthusiasts.

"The design allows for a great pace of play," Suarez said.

Stretching 6,683 yards from the black tees, the golf course has six sets of tees: blue-6,147 yards, white-5,487 yards, yellow- 5,390, red-4,492 and green-4,492, which is specifically designed for older senior golfers.
Seven Rivers is known in the area as a lady-friendly golf course.

Seven Rivers Golf & C.C.: Course strategy

The antithesis of the sprawling, modern residential community golf course where muscle is more important than finesse, Seven Rivers Golf & C.C. demands a well thought-out approach to navigate encroaching foliage on fairways and numerous water hazards.

The fairways at Seven Rivers are fair but certainly not wide on most holes. Fortunately, the rough is cut very short, so a slightly missed tee shot is not heavily penalized unless it drifts into a heavily wooded area or finds the water.

Suarez said the key to scoring well is hitting fairways consistently and staying short of the pin on approach shots.

"Our greens roll pretty well, and if you hit long it might take you a few putts to get down," he said.

The greens at Seven Rivers are Champion Dwarf Bermudagrass, which allow for lower mowing heights.

Some of Suarez's favorite holes are the fifth -- a tricky par 3 measuring 167 yards from the back tees -- the eighth -- the no. 1-handicap hole, a 505-yard (back tees), double, dogleg par 5 -- and the 13th, a 511-yard (back tees) par 5.

"For tournaments and friendly wagers, our finishing holes, the ninth and 18th, are great because they have trouble on both sides of the fairway and really put the pressure on for a good drive," Suarez said.

The ninth is a 359-yard par 4 (back tees), and the 18th is a 377-yard par 4 (back tees).

Amenities at Seven Rivers

Overlooking the 18th green, the clubhouse features a fully stocked pro shop and restaurant with indoor and outdoor patio dining.

If you like to celebrate a round with a Reuben sandwich, you're in luck at the Seven Rivers restaurant, which features the Classic Reuben, a Turkey Reuben with grilled turkey and coleslaw and Russian Reuben with lean corned beef, marbled rye and French dressing. For a great golf clubhouse burger, the Presidential Burger, an 8 oz. char-grilled patty, is a popular choice.

Suarez said the pro shop "is all about deals," and it's a great place to get value prices on gloves, balls and accessories.

Seven Rivers has chipping and putting areas and instruction by Mary Slinkard, a PGA/LPGA teaching professional.

Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club: The verdict

With its flat terrain and multiple tee placements, Seven Rivers Golf & Country Club is a superb choice for all skill levels.

If you enjoy golf as a total experience with mature tree growth and wildlife sightings, Seven Rivers delivers those benefits as well as a straightforward, traditional, playable design.

Better still, the staff and members are amiable, and you'll feel welcomed, relaxed and in a great state of mind of play on this quintessential north central Florida golf course.

Ed SchmidtEd Schmidt, Contributor

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

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