Scrambling for Golf
“Aim for the tall palm to the left of the green,” my cart partner says.
I say confidentially (as though I can actually predict where my ball will go), “Feels like a one-club wind. 155 yards. Maybe my 6 iron.”
“Incoming!” Grunts the wild boar in the deep woods to the left. And my ball is gone.
When I was five my late, avid, greatest generation dad took me for the first time to his favorite Peoria, Illinois golf course in the late 50’s to play golf. Armed with shortened 5 iron and blade putter, I would hit my next ball wherever his ball landed. I was introduced to the ‘scramble’ before I could read Jack and Jill (wagering came later). I played daily in high school and then regularly on weekends throughout my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I can’t decide if I hate the game now or not.
As you can clearly see, I have modest, but enthusiastic, golf credentials. I can’t explain why in high school I shot a decent bogey 90, and at 67 I shoot a never-seems-to-improve bogey 90. I take lessons (and yes, I’ve indulged myself with a swing coach). I go to the driving range. My drives are shorter, but I’m better around the green. I can’t bring myself to hit off the senior tees. I bring my clubs when we travel, thinking I might find a game. These days I stand at the first tee, pointing the head of my driver at the tiny flag on the distant green, thinking this may possibly, hopefully, be my special golf day. Or more likely, not. There are probably wild boars in the woods to torment.
On the Savannahs Golf Course recently and ankle deep in a bunker, I saw a SpaceX launch. A few holes later I saw a 5 foot alligator only one foot from my ball. Where else in the world can see this!?
There are over 20 courses to play on the Space Coast. I’ve played all of them and they’re all interesting to play and well maintained. Conditions change in the rainy summer season. Compared to northern courses, Space Coast green fees are a bargain. Here are a few from north to south, but don’t overlook the other courses.
Golf Courses on the Space Coast
Indian River Preserve [formerly Walkabout]
Titusville, just east of I-95
$39 in the morning; $34 after 2 PM; $25 after 3 PM
This is a long, tough course. Plenty of water and deep rough. Not for the faint hearted, but fun if you enjoy torturing yourself occasionally. Clubhouse for lunch.
South of the space center, east of Courtenay Parkway.
$44 in the morning; $39 after 12 PM
Not terribly long, but a fair number of holes that make you wonder if someone didn’t switch out your clubs. Clubhouse for lunch.
Just west of I-95 in Viera.
$62-72 in the morning before noon; $52-59 from noon ‘til 2 PM; $39 after 2:00 PM
My Senior PGA tour golfer neighbor says this is the only course that is long enough for him in Brevard. He hits from the tips and we hit from the whites. His drive drops 100 yards beyond ours. “You could build a Walmart between our drives,” he says. This must be professional golfer humor.
Duran is a long, tough course, and as serious a golf course as you’ll find on the Space Coast. Special occasion course for me. Clubhouse for lunch.
BTW, nice little par-3 course on the property to work on your short game..
Melbourne Beach on A1A
$48 until 11 PM; $42 until 1 PM; $34 until closing
This is a par 67 executive course, but plays like a regular course. It’s not long, but it’s sandy, wet, and quirky. It’s not hard, but it seems that every hole has a weird feature or two that makes you wonder (outloud) if you should hang up your clubs and take a hiatus (I’m thinking pickleball or shuffleboard). 19th Hole for a sandwich and beer.
Palm Bay, west of I-95
$45 ‘til 11; $37 from 11-2 PM; $28 to closing.
Arnold Palmer designed this course. The Majors website insists that the course is “full of challenges for the more experienced golfer”, which is a gross understatement. Greens are small and mimic 12 other PGA tour surfaces. This is the most frustrating course I’ve ever played, which makes it perfect for wagering, a cigar, and a beer during the round. Clubhouse for lunch (and another beer).
Bring your sticks on your next trip. Give Space Coast golf a try. Leave the wild boars and alligators alone if you find yourself chasing a ball into the woods or at the water’s edge. But look up if you hear a low rumble. It may be a launch.