Daytona Beach: Driving Great Golf
By Chris King
When people think of Daytona Beach, their minds naturally turn to the DAYTONA 500 and the World’s Most Famous Beach, iconic attractions that have made the area an international travel destination.
While speed and surf will continue to be headliners, savvy golfers have come to see Daytona Beach as a destination that offers everything a discerning group is looking for.
The most important factors in a successful golf trip are quality courses, varied accommodations, and the ability to have a good time after the final putt drops, and Daytona Beach delivers all.
The area is also home to a climate that is as golf trip-friendly as any in America from October through May. The summer heat recedes and the average high temperatures from fall through spring are: 82 degrees in October, 76 in November, 70 in December, 68 in January, 71 in February, 74 in March, 70 in April, and 85 in May.
Those are temperatures golfers, particularly those above the Mason-Dixon line, dream of after the harsh reality of winter sets in.
A trip to the area is easy as Daytona Beach International Airport offers nonstop flights from New York City (JetBlue), Atlanta (Delta) and Charlotte (American Airlines).
Combine the flight service with easy access off Interstate 95 and Interstate 4, and the area is as accessible as it is enjoyable.
"The courses were some of the best I have played in a very long time"
Golf course options are a driving force behind every trip and the Daytona Beach area, home to more than 20 layouts, has a thriving golf scene. LPGA International, home of the acclaimed Jones and Hills courses, is the area’s most high-profile facility.
LPGA International has challenged the world’s best women’s golfers - World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb has celebrated a pair of victories on the Jones Course - and annually hosts collegiate national championships and the finals of the Symetra Tour Qualifying School.
After the installation of new greens on the Jones Course, the layout is in pristine condition, providing golfers near-perfect putting surfaces to accompany a design that has been ranked among the best in the state.
The Hills Course is every bit as good as the Jones, challenging players with fairways lined by beautiful magnolia trees and native pines, an experience that occasionally stirs echoes of Pinehurst.
Both courses are 4-star layouts, according to Golf Digest, but they are hardly alone in delivering an outstanding experience.
Halifax Plantation, which plays through centuries-old live oak trees and is one of the area’s prettiest courses, is another 4-star caliber design that has earned rave reviews.
Spruce Creek Country Club is built around one of the world’s largest private airports, giving new meaning to the term “flyer” on a layout that places a premium on playability and quality conditioning.
Venetian Bay Golf Club is yet another 4-star facility that offers a diversity of challenges. Golfers play through tree-lined fairways on the opening nine before facing an open, links-style design after the turn.
Victoria Hills, a semi-private Ron Garl design, is one of Central Florida’s best kept secrets, rewarding golfers that make the trip to nearby DeLand with a creative layout that plays through expansive oak trees and Augusta pines.
"The courses were some of the best I have played in a very long time," said Aaron Boyd of Tourico Holidays, a company that organizes international golf trips. "[They were] very beautiful courses with unique designs. I couldn’t have asked for a better golfing trip and I will be out soon to play again."
Daytona Beach’s quality is complemented by its proximity to the rest of Central Florida’s golf offerings, including several PGA Tour stops, expanding the universe of courses visitors have access to.
Aside from golf, where a group stays matters, too. Daytona Beach hosts millions of visitors each year and the rooms – ranging from oceanfront to riverfront – that host family vacations during the summer months are perfect for golfers throughout the rest of the year.
Multiple bedroom units with modern kitchens and living rooms, many of them overlooking Daytona Beach’s famed beach, provide luxe housing. Golfers can gather and continue the banter and camaraderie that lies at the heart of so many trips long into the night.
Daytona Beach provides numerous golf and accommodations packages, which maximize value and convenience, allowing players to customize trips to fit their budget and preferences.
After the round
Daytona Beach can also guarantee that the good times continue long after the scorecards are signed.
Have a need for speed? The Richard Petty Driving Experience puts you behind the wheel of a stock car to drive around the famed 2.5-mile track. Participants receive training and instruction and meet with their crew chief before heading out for a racing session that gets the adrenaline pumping like few other activities.
To answer the most frequently asked question, yes, passing is allowed during the eight-lap race.
If driving into turns with a 31-degree banking at 150 miles per hour isn’t for you, a trip to Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, a leisurely drive on the beach, or the chance to watch future baseball stars at historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark might be.
From the Golf Trail to the Ale Trail
The Daytona Beach area is also home to a thriving craft beer scene, meaning golfers are never more than a short chip shot from a quality, local brew. Any group in search of a cold drink will enjoy the Daytona Beach Ale Trail, a collection of 17 breweries and taprooms that offer a broad selection of craft beer, including outstanding local offerings.
Any group that wants to pair a stop along on the Daytona Beach Ale Trail with an outstanding meal will appreciate the quality and diversity of Daytona Beach’s restaurant offerings, which feature everything from ocean views and fresh seafood to premium steakhouses.
Daytona Beach provides quality courses, a range of accommodations offerings, beautiful weather, a good time and value. These factors, when taken together, help bring golfers back year after year.
For more information, go to DaytonaBeach.Golf.