Enjoy the unpretentious golf of Florida's Space Coast
VIERA, Fla. – It always amazes me how many golf courses there are in Florida. I’ve been on more golf trips to Florida than anywhere else, and I’ve still seen just a small fraction of the state’s 1,000-plus courses.
By my count, I’ve teed it up at nearly 60 of the best courses in the state, such as Doral, Bay Hill, Streamsong, TPC Sawgrass and more. Too many of the rest of them are courses built to attract home owners, not PGA Tour events. It’s painfully obvious that the real estate community took precedent over the construction of the layout. Backyards and windows are too often in the way.
I didn’t have much faith that the courses I was scheduled to visit earlier this week along the Space Coast – a remote stretch of small beach towns along the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the Kennedy Space Center – would be any different. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. I felt like a man on the moon, exploring a region I’d never seen before.
While Viera East Golf Club (pictured above) turned out to be a community course surrounded by houses, never did the dwellings intrude on my experience. The course was wide and forgiving with a nice mix of water hazards and bunkering. It felt like the kind of place I could take my buddies for a match or my 10-year-old son for a relaxing round of beginner golf.
Heading north on I-95 toward Jacksonville, Venetian Bay Golf Club in New Smyrna Beach (pictured below) might someday be lined with houses, but right now, the development is an empty, expansive, windswept space. That makes the 7,072-yard course even more pleasant and quiet.
Both rounds were relaxing affairs all the way around. The weather lived up to the billing of the “Sunshine State.” My playing partners – yes, they were all retiree age, but who’s counting? – turned out to be great people. And I played well to boot.
The Space Coast might not be a true golf destination loaded with five-star resorts. But if you’re passing through, or staying in the area, there’s plenty of good golf to be had.
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