In Tallahassee, Southwood is a Must-Play

    By Tim McDonald

    I'm not sure why, but for some reason every time I play Southwood in Tallahassee, I get a little surprised.

    Surprised because I somehow tend to forget how good this course really is. It comes back to you fast, though, as soon as you step up to No. 1, a teasing, dogleg left par-5 that's very birdie-able with a decent drive.

    First of all, the course makes good use of the hilly, rolling terrain found in this part of the state. You have your uphill holes and your downhill holes. Some of the fairways are pretty severely sloped and the course is always visually arresting, with mounds, swales, dips and valleys.

    Fred Couples and Gene Bates designed a layout that rarely gives you the same look twice, with challenges off the tee, into the greens and on the greens themselves, which are good-sized with gentle slope and undulation.

    There are long holes, like the 628-yard fourth hole, along with short, though nasty, par-4s. The rough, at least on the recent day I played, was high and grabby.

    Don't let all this scare you. Pick your tees wisely and you'll have a great day. Women also love this course; it was named one of the top 50 courses for women by Women in Golf magazine.

    Off the tee, there are some tough carries over bunker complexes and some blind shots. Spreading oak trees in the fairways. Many of the approaches are tricky because of the formidable bunkers guarding the greens; if you're out of position it seems like you're always having to feather a delicate shot over a deep bunker.

    The green complexes themselves are beautifully contoured and force you to try different aspects of your short game.

    There's all that. And then there are the other little touches golfers look for when they play a good course: the driving range and practice putting green by No. 1, as well as the clubhouse and pro shop.

    Right now, Southwood is in excellent shape, and having some good summer specials. Click here for those.