Florida Space Coast golf: There's plenty to talk about at Indian River Preserve Golf Club in Mims

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

MIMS, Fla. -- Located just minutes from the beach on the Space Coast of Florida, the Perry Dye-designed Indian River Preserve Golf Club meanders through sand dunes and wetlands, setting up a golf experience that's unlike anything else in the region.

Indian River Preserve Golf Club - hole 18
Holes like the 18th at Indian River Preserve Golf Club are interesting and challenging.
Indian River Preserve Golf Club - hole 18Indian River Preserve Golf Club - hole 1Indian River Preserve Golf Club - hole 15Indian River Preserve Golf Club - hole 6
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Indian River Preserve Golf Club

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Indian River Preserve Golf Club was a collaboration between LPGA Tour champion Jan Stephenson and Perry Dye. The course is an homage to Stephenson's Australian heritage. It gets its name from a term signifying a rite-of-passage ritual of the Australian Aborigines. The layout wanders across a verdant, rolling landscape, abundant with native vegetation and wildlife.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 7146 yards | Book online | ... details »

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. "And it's getting a lot better."

No bad holes at Indian River Preserve 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 Indian River Preserve 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.

Indian River Preserve Golf Club: The verdict

Located just minutes from the Kennedy Space Center and easy driving distance from Melbourne, Orlando and Daytona, Indian River Preserve 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.

The facility boasts excellent practice facilities, and lessons are available.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Indian River Preserve Golf Club was formerly named Walkabout Golf Club.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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