During a recent visit to Plantation on Crystal River, I posted a photo from the course on my Facebook page and a commenter noted how he had many happy memories from playing the course in his junior golf days.
That’s a good summary of how the venerable resort has tied together generations of visitors.
Now 61 years old, Plantation on Crystal River has expanded over the years and changed its name a few times (most visitors probably remember it as the Plantation Inn) but the southern charm and stately white buildings have remained constant.
At Plantation, water and golf are the calling cards. There may not be a better spot in the world to watch and frolic with manatees than Kings Bay, which is right outside Plantation’s back door. The resort’s marina and dive shop put thousands of visitors in touch with nature every year.
The on-site restaurant, West 82 Degrees Bar & Grill, is open all day with a dining room overlooking the bay. Come hungry in the morning for the giant pancakes.
As for the golf, I first played Plantation a dozen years ago when my wife and I called Citrus County home. Then and now, it’s a well-conditioned course that’s challenging without being a grind. From the back tees of the championship course, the Mark Mahannah design is only 6,472 yards, but water comes into play often and mature oaks and pines are more than capable of swallowing drives, especially on the back nine.
Between the main course and the nine-hole Lagoons course, water is on 21 of 27 holes. The Lagoons is a hoot, a short course where you can pull driver a couple times while hopefully stockpiling a few birdies.
Three cool holes
- No. 5, 423-yard par 4: The prior hole is a relatively benign par 5 that’s just 65 yards longer than the No. 2 handicap par 4. Here, a long drive that’s just a bit left can end up stymied in native oaks.
- No. 11, 565-yard par 5: The longest hole on the course is a three-shotter that demands concentration on the second shot – just whaling away with a longer club can bring in water and woods.
- No. 17, 176-yard par 3: Great look from the back tees, which bring the entire length of a lake into play to the green. Can’t think about relaxing on Kings Bay until you find the green here.