Daytona Beach is the land of a thousand summers, a warm, laid-back destination whose fame far outpaces its size. There are bigger destinations in Florida if you go by geography and census numbers, but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the world who dreams of a Florida vacation who does not also dream of Daytona Beach.
Increasingly, those people who have Daytona Beach ingrained in their consciousness are golfers, because of the sheer physical charms of the golf courses as well as their affordability.
The area has lured some of the biggest names in golf architecture to its sun-lit, ocean-cooled shores, from legendary names such as Donald Ross, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player to the more modern artists like Rees Jones, Arthur Hills and Ron Garl.
They say if you build it, they will come. Well, they did build, and they are coming. From the superb LPGA International complex, the home course of the LPGA Tour, to the western inlands of the rolling Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, more people are discovering Daytona Beach as an excellent golf destination.
Here's what awaits you on a Daytona Beach golf vacation.
LPGA International has two lovely courses as different in character as they are alike in playability. The Legends course is a shot-maker’s layout, an elegant design by Arthur Hills with rolling, fairly narrow fairways lined with oak and pine as well as a variety of wetlands that are, thankfully, mostly lateral. The Champions is an open, links-style layout, the first course ever designed for professional female golfers. Golf for Women magazine has rated it the most woman-friendly course in the country.
Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand is a relatively short drive away and a must-play. With elevation changes up to 80 feet and large, sandy waste areas, you will enjoy this course as much for the challenge as the beauty. The holes flow into one another effortlessly while simultaneously giving you a different look and feel.
Halifax Plantation Golf Club in Ormond Beach is another layout that features rolling terrain. Surrounded by parks, the course is a scenic and very playable layout, shaded by hundred-year-old oak trees near the ruins of the historic Bulow Plantation.
The Golf Club at Cypress Head in Port Orange, just south of Daytona, is another intriguing layout. It plays through a cypress forest and preserved wetlands, and most of the pristine greens are nicely framed by the native vegetation.
Daytona Beach Golf Club is a historic landmark. It's been around since 1921, and the original South course was designed by Ross, the dean of golf architecture. The low green fees make these courses bargains, and the city is actively committed to keeping the courses well-conditioned throughout.
The Grand Club's Cypress and Pine courses in Palm Coast are both treats. The Cypress Course 18 has elevated tees that set you up nicely above the striking wetlands, and the routing takes you through tight, tree-lined fairways with love grass and pot bunkers thrown in to please Scottish enthusiasts.The Pine Course was designed by Palmer, who returned in 2006 to oversee a $2.5-million renovation, which included both course and clubhouse. The Pine has an open layout with generous landing areas in the fairways, and strategic bunkers guarding the large, undulating greens, a Palmer trait.
The Club at Pelican Bay also has two courses. The North Course used to be a private club, now open to the public. It's a classy layout, having hosted two Senior PGA Tour events. The South Course is a Lloyd Clifton design that features five water carries and an island green, No. 15.
Indigo Lakes Golf Club has been a perennial favorite of both locals and visitors for years. The course shows up frequently on a variety of publications’ top 10 lists.
Other nearby courses well worth your time include Crane Lakes Golf and Country Club and Spruce Creek Country Club, both in Port Orange; Hidden Lakes Golf Club and New Smyrna Beach Golf Course, both in New Smyrna Beach; River Bend Golf Club in Ormond Beach; and DeBary Golf & Country Club in DeBary.