In this fourth installment of a series, we're going to look at two more Tampa Bay area courses, each of which was a personal favorite during the years I lived in the area.
First, a course designed in the Scottish links tradition by Ron Garl, an excellent Florida architect, with many fine venues to his credit. Summerfield Golf Club is located in Riverview, Florida, just a few miles south of Tampa off Interstate 75. Aside from supplying golfers with nice amenities off the course, players will find Summerfield an outstanding challenge, particularly from the back tees, which stretch the course out to 6,903 yards playing to a par of 71.
Summerfield is built on rolling terrain, with some elevation changes not routinely found in this area of Florida. On the front nine, you'll find a terrific mix of par fours, beginning with the first hole measuring 417 from the tips. It plays slightly uphill to an undulating green. The second is a 432 yard affair that plays downhill and slightly left to a big, elevated green.
For the third hole, extreme accuracy is needed. It's a par 3 of 180 yards over water to a tricky green that is angled from right to left. Holes 4 and 5 are wonderful par fours, 4 playing uphill and bending left and 5 playing down through a valley then up to an elevated green.
At the sixth hole, you'll find Summerfield's signature entry, a 171 yard par 3 that plays slightly downhill to a green that is nearly an island, surrounded by water on three sides. When the wind blows, it's a daunting shot. Holes 7 and 8 are nicely contrasted par fours, with the 7th playing 381 yards and requiring an accurate tee shot to a narrow fairway. Number 8 is a brute of a par 4 at 463 yards.
The ninth, the first par 5 on the course is an excellent rambling affair the plays uphill on the second shot and bends right to an elevated green.
The back nine begins with a par 4 of just 345 yards. Before you think, ah, an easy birdie, check out the green. It is angled left to right and has three tiers. Placing your tee shot is imperative for the best approach to this difficult green. The 11th plays 168 yards through a shoot of trees to a narrow, well-bunkered green.
Number 12, a 570 yard par 5, requires an excellent tee shot, avoiding disaster on the right and left. The second shot is played over a marsh area and is a blind shot - so you'd better check the layout before hitting. The 13th hole is a straightaway par 4 of 400 yards. It really gets interesting on the 14th hole, a monster of 457 yards with the second shot playing over a chasm to a tricky green. You'll happily take a 4 here.
Number 15 presents a birdie opportunity at 352 yards, but placing your tee shot well is a necessity in order to cash in. Number 16 is a 429 yard par 4 that is a demanding driving hole, with water lining the right side, and deep, impenetrable marsh on the left. The 17th is a par 3 of 154 yards that plays slightly downhill to a very tricky green.
The finishing hole is another par 5 of 560 yards that plays uphill for your second shot to an elevated green.
Summerfield is a definite must play that is well designed and enjoyable.
Just a short distance away from Summerfield, off Route 41, is Apollo Beach Golf Club, a big time favorite of mine. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. , and he used the watery terrain to full advantage. Water is present on every hole on this lovely course that winds beautifully through scenic surroundings.
Your round begins with a par 4 of 410 yards that plays straightaway. Things tighten up considerably at number 2, a memorable par 5 of 573 yards. Big hitters can shorten that distance by quite a bit by cutting the corner of the dogleg left. The green is protected by water in front.
The 3rd is a par 4 of 373 yards, presenting a birdie opportunity. The 4th is a terrific par 3 that stretches 206 from the tips and plays over water. Number 5 and 6 are both stout par fours of 436 and 419 yards respectively, both requiring excellent tee shots to negotiate. Number 7 plays 556 yards. The par 5 presents difficulty for big hitters with thoughts of hitting the green in two. The hole bends slightly left and the elevated, small green is guarded by a stream in front.
The 8th is a good par 3 of 192 yards. Nine plays 414 straightaway to an undulating green.
The 10th hole is one of the toughest on the course, usually playing into the prevailing wind at 440 yards. The tee shot is demanding, with trouble on both sides and the second shot is struck to a big green that is difficult to read.
Number 11 is a 528 yard par 5 guarded on the right by a large mound that runs nearly the length of the hole. The 12th is a 170 yard par 3 that has a generous green that could yield a birdie with a well placed tee shot. Number 13 is a terrific par 4 of 430 yards from the tips. The second shot plays over a river to a green set in the side of a small hill.
The 14th is a par 4 of 422 yards, with the tee shot hit over that same river. Trouble is down the left and the approach shot is demanding. Number 15 is a relatively benign par 4 of 375 yards with a small green. But it does present a good birdie chance.
Number 16 is an outstanding par 5 of 572 with water lining the left side and mounds on the right. Your third shot, and even big hitters probably won't go for this green in two, must be accurate. The green is guarded by water in front and on the right.
The 17th hole is a par 3 of 201 yards that possesses a very tricky putting surface. The round wraps up with a 400 yard par 4 that bends slightly left. Out of bounds beckons on the left side.
Apollo Beach is a fine test, especially when the Florida breezes circulate. Enjoy it on your next trip to the Sunshine State.
About the Author
Jim Nettleton is a radio and television professional who is a lifelong golf addict. Visit his golf blog at http://golf-golf-andmoregolf.blogspot.com/
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