Florida Space Coast golf: There's plenty to talk about at Walkabout Golf Club in Mims
MIMS, Fla. -- The name of the course and the shape of the green on the 19th hole tell you that Walkabout Golf Club is a little out of the ordinary.
Those two things certainly reflect the fact that former LPGA Tour player and Aussie Jan Stephenson was the design consultant on this championship level golf course.
The course pays homage to Stephenson's heritage, particularly on the 19th green (an extra hole, perfect for playoffs), which is shaped like Australia. And the club gets its name from a term signifying a rite-of-passage ritual of the Australian Aborigines.
But really, that's nothing compared to the real attraction of Walkabout Golf Club.
Located just minutes from the beach on the Space Coast of Florida, the Perry Dye-designed golf course meanders through sand dunes and wetlands, setting up a golf experience that's unlike anything else in the region. No two holes are alike on this course, which can be stretched to 7,146 yards.
"It's got a lot of character," said John Crocker, director of operations at Walkabout Golf Club. "And it's getting a lot better."
No bad holes at Walkabout Golf Club
Opened in 2003, Dye created a course that really doesn't have a bad hole on it. Perhaps that's why Champions Tour player Mike Smith plays it three to four times a week and other pros love to come out to the course when they are in the area. (Chris DiMarco, by the way, holds the course record at 64.)
The only drawback, perhaps, is that in its original configuration, the front nine played directly into the rising sun, making it difficult to follow golf balls off the tee. So the nines were reversed to make that easier.
As a result, however, golfers now play the more difficult nine first. That may seem anticlimactic, or perhaps too tough a start. But really, you can look at it another way: Survive the front nine and you've got a chance to post a really good score.
Even such, it's not like the back nine ends with a whimper. The 18th, in its current configuration, is the No. 2 handicap hole on the course and with good reason. The tee shot on this 445-yard par 4 is anything but easy. And the approach is even harder, especially with a less-than-perfect tee shot. Throw in some wind, and it really becomes a bear. The approach calls for a shot over a hazard to a green that's bordered by wetlands and bunkers left.
The toughest hole at Walkabout Golf Club, however, is probably the fourth. Hazards off the tee, woodlands right and a lake that envelopes much of the green make this 455-yard par 4 the No. 1 handicap hole on the course.
"The tee shot is intimidating, to say the least," Crocker said. "Then you have to commit to the approach."
The par 3s at Walkabout are particularly interesting and different. They range from 168 yards to 214 from the tips.
Walkabout Golf Club: The verdict
Located just minutes from the Kennedy Space Center and easy driving distance from Melbourne, Orlando and Daytona, the Walkabout Golf Club provides a nice escape from hectic everyday life.
With no homes on the course, all you see, pretty much, is nature and one terrific golf hole after another. The Tif-Dwarf greens roll well and conditioning is well above average on this delightful play.
While the facility currently has a temporary clubhouse, plans that call for a new clubhouse to be completed by early 2013 should really add to the appeal.
As it is, the facility boasts excellent practice facilities, and lessons are available.