The Country Club of Lake City is probably the best golf course between Jacksonville and Tallahassee, and one I try to play whenever I get a chance.
(Still, I can't stop calling it Southern Oaks, which was the name for years before the owner died and the current ownership group took over.)
You almost always see some sort of wildlife lurking on or near the course, whether it's an alligator, deer or turkey, even though part of the course plays alongside the roaring traffic of Interstate 75.
But, most of the course plays back in the deep, north Florida woods, and has some excellent elevation changes. It was designed by one of my favorite architects, Willard Byrd, who just let the design flow on, around and through the natural contours of the landscape.
The course has been around for what seems to be forever, but was actually built in 1970. It's hosted PGA Tour and Champions Tour qualifying, and the Ben Hogan Tour – now the Nationwide Tour – was played here years ago.
The layout is consistently interesting and shows you a variety of different looks. The greens can be challenging. They're the old-style "push-up" greens, where the builders take the dirt out of the fairways and build the greens. Donald Ross, the master, perfected this style of green at Pinehurst No. 2.
The Country Club of Lake City is no Pinehurst No. 2, but it is a fun play with reasonable green fees. Pull off I-75 the next time you're over that way and give it a try. My only gripe is the current owners charge you the same whether you walk or ride in a cart.
Call 386-755-5000 for more information.