Central Florida is a buffet when it comes to golf courses. There are golf courses in the region that can accommodate a variety of budgets. If you were to zoom in even more into the Lakeland, Florida area and it’s periphery you might be surprised at the golf courses available. Seeing that you’re away from the hustle and bustle of Orlando and its attractions you can find even better deals for your golfer dollar.
In East Lakeland, Florida is where you’ll find Schalamar Creek Golf Course. Schalamar Creek is home to an 18-hole championship golf course by noted golf course architect Ron Garl. Mr. Garl has designed golf courses all over the world however most of his design can be seen right in the “Sunshine State”. Schalamar Creek Golf Course features a yardage of 6,399 yards from the tips (Gold Tees) while boasting a course and slope rating of 71.5/129.
Admittedly, I made my tee time reservation through GolfNow and it was just a little later in the afternoon. To play this round it cost me $15 USD including the cart. I should note that the peak rate is $37 USD which for Florida in mid-winter is a very fair price for a round of golf with a cart. The drive to Schalamar Creek is pretty simple and is conveniently located off of U.S. Highway 92 East. As you pull up to its entrance the property is easily identifiable as there is a huge sign letting you know that you arrived. The golf course is set back amongst a “retirement community” and the drive down the lane is quite pretty. Wildlife was abundant and the Spanish Moss was hanging from the trees. The clubhouse is set in what I would dub “the hub of the community” where there are amenities such as a pool and shuffleboard. this is the building where the Pro Shop is. I was greeted by a friendly staff that made me feel welcome and at no time did I feel rushed. Prior to my round I used the practice facilities. These facilities include a very nice putting green, chipping green and last but not least an aqua range (range balls extra cost). The putting green was very consistent to the greens on the rest of the golf course.
As mentioned earlier the course isn’t horribly long but it’s a golf course where you have to hit golf shots. This is indicative right from the first tee. The first hole is a gradual dogleg right with a fairway that is fairly tight. That first green is guarded by bunkers and the green itself is a fairly good size. The second hole is a Par 5 that’s pretty straight away with water left. As you get closer to the green a rather large bunker awaits and the landing area is pretty tight. Play it right and you’re putting for a birdie. The Third hole features a tight tee shot through a chute and then the fairway opens up quite nicely. I’m going to do my best to refrain from giving a hole by hole rundown of the golf course but what you need to know is that the front nine makes you feel like you aren’t in a community. There wasn’t one hole on the front where you were looking at homes. My favorite hole on the golf course I would say had to be Hole 8. A short par 4 dogleg left with transition bunkers left. There’s a small berm that runs through (when there’s rain) and there was just something about this golf hole that my eye thought was very pleasing. Finishing the 9th hole you cross where the starter is and pass by a large pond on the backside of the clubhouse. It was here where I saw my first alligator of the trip… a tiny 2 footer that I wanted to bring home for my daughter (she loves gators… so do I for that matter)
The back nine plays a little bit different and offers a different feel as the back nine gives you a gentle nudge reminding you that you are in a community. The 10th hole is a hole where I opted to tee off with a 5 iron because there is water left and the hole wraps around a large pond. The green complex here like the rest of the course is a decent size. Holes 10 thru 14 do wind its way through the homes there and then when you hit hole 15 it’s like the homes vanish into thin air. As you depart the 14th green you drive through a forest over a very well-kept wooden bridge. It’s scenic and pretty. The 15th hole could be a temperamental little hole. It was 210 yards that day and was playing closer to 230 yards. Water guards the entire left side so if you overcook a draw you’re hitting three from the tee. This is where I saw a pretty good-sized gator (12 foot maybe?). I hit my hybrid to 3 feet and consequently made my putt for a birdie. That was the “shot of the day”.
In conclusion, I would have to recommend playing Schalamar Creek. Even though it was February 1st when I played and everything is dormant the course was green. The greens rolled excellently from beginning to end the tees were in great shape as well. There are plenty of pretty golf holes on this Garl design. You can score on this course and unlike so many courses where you can just put your head down and swing on this course you have to hit “golf shots”. It’s a golf course that can cater to all skill levels, is well-appointed with facilities and a friendly staff.
Until The Next Tee!!