Underrated Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand shouldn't be forgotten
DELAND, Fla. - Located a little off the beaten path, Victoria Hills Golf Club is one of central Florida's most underrated golf courses.
Built in 2000, the goal of this Ron Garl-designed course was to artfully employ the unique characteristics of the natural terrain while adhering to sensitive land management where both the environment and man can not only coexist but also thrive. Staying true to the designer's intent, playing a round of golf at Victoria Hills Golf Club is reminiscent of a walk through the woods where you'll come in contact with the sights, sounds and smells of Mother Nature.
Once you leave the starter and head to the first tee, there's a distinct lack of - it's difficult to describe. It's like a lack of commerce, lack of modernization, a lack of man's footprint on the land.
Alright, imagine what it feels like to play a resort course; many times, they have that artificial sense of clean, well kept perfection. While not the complete opposite of this, Victoria Hills conveys a sense of real, balanced with the surrounding natural habitat.
It's also a very quiet course due to the buffers of historic oak, Augusta Pines and other tree stands between holes.
Victoria Hills Golf Club: A punishing course
While the "walk through the forest" design is great for personal reflection, it can be a real pain for a round of golf. Many of the holes are narrow and are quite punishing of an errant tee shot. Similar to the Crooked Cat course at Orange County National in Orlando, there's an over abundance of sand bunkers on the course that are very inconveniently located and that can quickly ruin your leisurely stroll.
Regarding the sand bunkers, I can say with complete confidence that you would be hard pressed to find better kept sand in the Central Florida area. It's that really nice, soft sand that you see the pros play out of that you wish you could play out of, until you're actually in it and then those local municipal bunkers don't seem so bad anymore.
After the round, I was discussing the putting surfaces with the group I played with. The best term we could come up with to describe them was to call them "sneaky, tricky" greens. As the name implies, you should take extra special care when reading your putts; there's many subtle shifts and breaks in your line that can easily cost you some strokes. Also, regarding the greens, it was quite disappointing to see many un-repaired ball marks, quite a few which were more than a day old.
Also in the course layout, you'll encounter the areas natural rolling hills, boasting more than 50 feet of elevation changes, saw grass, foliage and wetlands.
All the golf carts come equipped with GPS, and due to the changes in elevation, it may seem like the distances are off. This is due to the fact that GPS units do not account for elevation changes. It would be a good idea to keep this in mind when planning your shots. Some of the elevation changes are pretty subtle, and you'll not realize it was there until a perfectly struck 7-iron lands 10 feet short of where it should have.
Victoria Hills Golf Club is enrolled in Audubon International's Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses to ensure that the course helps to protect the local environment, conserve natural resources, and provide wildlife habitats.
Rated by Golf magazine as one of the top 10 "Best Courses You Can Play" in Florida in 2008, this 7,149-yard, par-72 course is well maintained, quite picturesque and will be a solid test of golf.
Victoria Hills Golf Club: The verdict
Victoria Hills Golf Club is truly an underrated course, probably because it's about 25 miles north of central Orlando; it doesn't receive the attention it deserves.
Other than the un-repaired ball marks, the course is immaculate. We played a round on Sunday morning and didn't see another group the entire round, the pace of play was excellent.
This golf course has the potential to be quite brutal to higher handicap players. There are many factors that must be considered that newer or higher handicap players probably wouldn't notice that can greatly affect one's score. Like I mentioned above, narrow holes with surrounding trees, elevation changes that require the player to club up/down, "sneaky tricky" greens and inconveniently located sand bunkers require extra care and skill to successfully master this course.
After your round, don't forget to stop in to Mulligan's Tavern & Grill; it has a Meat Loaf Panini that is out of this world.
August 26, 2009