The 18th on Jones Course at LPGA

When you say Daytona Beach, most people think of NASCAR racing. Maybe another thought should be excellent golf. A group of writers had a chance to visit Daytona before this year’s PGA Merchandise Show, and it was a real treat.
Located less than an hour from the World Golf Village and Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Daytona Beach is home to 15 golf courses, nice hotels, many right on the ocean, and 36 miles of beach. Actually, the beach is where the first Daytona races were held.
As you drive south on Route 95, you see the large LPGA markings below a bridge a few miles north of the Daytona Speedway. It would behoove you to get off at that exit and play two of the nicer golf courses in Florida.
The LPGA headquarters are located just off of the interstate and they have two excellent courses on their property, as well as a wonderful restaurant and pro shop. The LPGA holds their annual Qualifying Tournament for new members at both courses.
Rees Jones designed the Champions Course. It is a wide-open links-style course that traverses marshes, nature preserves, large lakes and numerous huge bunkers. The 18 th hole, played along a lake, will often decide if your round will be a success or failure.
Arthur Hills designed the Legends Course. It is a shorter course than the Champions, but it is much narrower with many hazards that come into play including swamps and streams. There is a huge practice area that also has putting and chipping greens. The service at both courses and in the restaurant and pro shop make this a must stop if playing golf in the area.
We had the opportunity to play a classic course, Riviera Country Club in Ormond Beach. Opened in 1953, the course brings back memories of old time courses. It is perfectly flat and measures only 6,250 yards, but you will have fun. Strategically placed bunkers, sloping greens and huge trees provide plenty of thought-provoking shots.
The Riviera Open used to be a regular professional stop on the southern circuit, and plaques list the names of Jim Dent, Bert Yancy, and New England pro John Elliott. The conditioning is excellent, and the old pro shop has a great deal of memorabilia. They do not take tee times. It reminded me of the old courses where you put your ball in a circular slot to determine when you are on the tee.
Municipal courses, especially ones designed by Donald Ross, are great. It is wonderful seeing people walking and/or pulling carts and paying inexpensive greens fees. Daytona Beach Golf Club is one these gems that exist around the country. Founded in 1921, the
Ross 18 traverses along a railroad line with many risk/reward holes that the great course architect is noted for. A train chugged by while we were playing that created an unusual hazard. The north course was designed by Lloyd Clifton and was reopened in 1997. There are many nice holes on each course and many snowbirds play the two courses all winter.
Noted Florida architect Ron Garl, who did a great job with Eagle Creek near the airport in Orlando, designed Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, Fla. that is minutes from Daytona Beach. It was voted the No. 8 public access course in Florida by Golfweek.
Many of the hotels offer golf packages. We stayed at the Homewood Suites right across the street from the racetrack. The general manager, Pat Sullivan, who grew up in the area playing golf, is the resident historian. He knows about all the courses and offered much
insight.
There is much to do in Daytona Beach besides golf. It is one of the few places where you can drive your car on the beach, so be careful when sunbathing. My wife and I visited Daytona on our way back north and visited museums, the racetrack and enjoyed a
day on the beach. You have to visit the Daytona 500 Experience while in the area. You couldn’t come home from Daytona and say you didn’t see the racetrack, even if you have great golfing memories.
Kate Holcomb, director of communications for the Daytona Beach CVB was our hostess and was very helpful. You can reach the CVB at 1-800-544-1234 for information and ideas.

Bruce Vittner is a member of the Golf Writers of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America and can be reached at bruce@snegolfer.flywheelsites.com.