What’s new in Florida golf for 2019? If golfing is your game, these four Florida golf courses and greens are new or improved for 2019. They include high-tech driving ranges and signature resorts and courses.
What’s New in Florida Golf? BigShots Golf, Vero Beach
Opened in September 2018, BigShots Golf in Vero Beach is a family-friendly, two-story, golf and entertainment complex. Sitting on 10-acres, golfers of all skill levels can play in one of 30 climate-controlled tee boxes. Digital radar and doppler-based technology is used to track each player’s distance and accuracy. Each box can accommodate up to six players who can play simulated courses such as Kileen Castle Golf Club in Ireland or Blackthorn Golf Club of Indiana.
On site is a full-service restaurant and sports bar boasting some of the best pizza and burgers around. Open daily and times vary. Depending on the day and time of week, hourly rate ranges from $15 to $40 per hour. Every guest needs a BigShots Golf Member Card to play and Lifetime Membership is $5 plus tax. Clubs are included in every tee box and included with membership. (3456 U.S. 1, Vero Beach, Fla. 32960; Tel: (772) 979-4653 www.verobigshots.com)
What’s New in Florida Golf? Drive Shack Orlando
Rain or shine, Central Florida visitors can tee it up at Drive Shack in Lake Nona’s Sports and Performance District. Opened in April 2018, the indoor/outdoor all-weather golf-entertainment complex features 90 hitting bays with 220-yard range, the Free Play Game Lounge with iconic games as shuffleboard and Pac-Man, full-service restaurant and bar, and function space to accommodate events up to 1,000.
Using signature technology, Drive Shack offers proprietary games like S-H-A-C-K, a golf version of basketball’s H-O-R-S-E where the goal is to hit a target, avoid a letter, and stay alive. The first to spells S-H-A-C-K. Or, through virtual technology, guests can play courses like Linfield National in Pennsylvania and Teton Pines in Wyoming. Each bay offers comfortable accommodations, unlimited balls and free use of TaylorMade golf clubs.
For those looking to improve their game, the golf pro offers instruction to players of all skill levels and ages including parent-child classes. Group clinics and individual lessons are offered. Hourly rates for the hitting bays range between $30 – $50, depending on the time of day. Open daily. Every guest needs a one-time Drive Shack membership which starts at $5 plus tax and valid at all Drive Shack locations. One is scheduled to open in West Palm Beach in Spring 2019 and others will open in several Southeastern U.S. cities over the next couple of years. (7285 Corner Dr., Orlando, Fla. 32827; Tel: (407) 553-8820; www.driveshack.com)
What’s New in Florida Golf? Renovations at Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort, Palm Harbor
Legendary golf architect Lawrence Packard originally designed Innisbrook Resort’s four courses decades ago including the famed Copperhead Course, home of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. The resort’s South Golf Course underwent a six-month renovation of the putting surface on all 18 greens and reopened in November.
A no-till method was utilized in the turf replacement of the par 71 course, resulting in a firmer, more consistent playing surface. TifEagle Bermuda Grass was planted which is the same putting surface PGA TOUR professionals rave about while playing Copperhead. The renovation also included addition of TifEagle Bermuda Grass to the collars and fringe areas, expansion of greens allowing more pin placements, trees were thinned and intrusive tree species were removed, and improvements were made to bunker edging.
Although play is limited to Innisbrook guests and members, the resort offers golf clinics open to anyone throughout the year. The multi-day Ladies Golf Institute is offered several times a year. Overnight accommodations are in spacious condo-style suites and the property has four restaurants and three bars to choose after a day on the links. (36750 U.S. Highway 19 North, Palm Harbor, Fla. 34684; Tel: (727) 942-2000; InnisbrookGolfResort.com)
What’s New in Florida Golf? Renovations at PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens
Nicklaus Design recently oversaw the $1 million renovation at PGA National Resort & Spa’s Champion Course which reopened this fall. Improvements to the par 70 course include recapture of a third-acre of putting surface and returning it to its native design implemented by Jack Nicklaus and his team 16 years ago.
Green complexes were rebuilt, shaped, and planted with TifEagle Bermuda grass; and Palmetto palms were removed on holes No. 1 and No. 9 which is anticipated to offer more options for PGA TOUR players and better spectator flow during the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic. Last year, the Champion Course’s driving range was upgraded and includes a secluded section for PGA TOUR pros to practice their short game. Overnight golf packages are available. (400 Ave of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 33418; 800-863-2819; pgaresort.com)
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