Country Club at Lake City worth a detour off the interstate

    By John Schwarb

    If I-75 is part of your travels in Florida, you have driven right past The Country Club at Lake City.

    Between a childhood full of Florida vacations (coming from Atlanta), then trips from my old Tampa Bay-area home to points north, it's entirely possible I've passed the previously named Southern Oaks Golf Club 50 times, if not more.

    I always noticed the course (off the east side of the road) and how it offered some nice elevation for Florida. This week it was good to finally see it up close.

    Lake City’s hometown club, designed by the late, great Willard Byrd, offers tree-lined fairways, well-kept and receptive greens and that aforementioned elevation. It's worth the stop if you’re en route almost anywhere in the state, located about five miles south of the busy I-75/I-10 interchange.

    Summer rains took a toll on a few holes on the front side, but the back nine remains intact including the highway-visible holes. From the tee on the par-5 16th, you can enjoy some serious hang time with the driver, then two holes later you climb the same hill to finish the round.

    Golf in Florida is a final stop for so many vacationers, the destination rather than the journey. But if you’ve ever passed The Country Club at Lake City and have wondered about the course, pull off and check it out. It’s worth a few hours’ detour.

    Three cool holes

    • No. 7, 175-yard par 3: An uphill one-shotter, take an extra club and aim for the center of the green.
    • No. 16, 581-yard par 5: Tee it up, aim at I-75 and let it fly. Most enjoyable tee shot on the course.
    • No. 18, 396-yard par 4: Try to reach the corner of the dogleg off the tee, then fire uphill to the final green.