Did you know people have been playing golf longer than they’ve been racing cars in Daytona Beach?
That fact comes as a surprise to most, but Daytona Beach’s first course - Oceanside Country Club - opened in 1907, and the area has earned a reputation as a destination steeped in the game’s rich history.
The Historic Florida Golf Trail, a collection of the Sunshine State’s premier public and semi-private courses that are at least 50 years old, includes three Daytona Beach area layouts.
Riviera Country Club, the South Course at Daytona Beach Golf Club and New Smyrna Golf Club earned spots on the Historic Florida Golf Trail and all three continue to charm players. (Oceanside was the area’s first course, but it’s not a member of the trail because it’s a private facility.)
It was the work of legendary architect Donald Ross at Daytona Beach Golf Club’s South Course that stamped the area as a burgeoning golf hotbed. The course opened in 1921 and continues to feature the turtle back greens that became Ross’ calling card.
Ross redesigned several holes in 1944, and Lloyd Clifton, who once worked as the greens keeper in 1950s, put his architectural touches on the layout in 1997. Despite the changes, the South Course still follows much of Ross’ original routing, and players love it.
On the heels of the South Course opening, John Van Kleek designed nine holes at Riviera Country Club in 1926, months before the Great Depression brought development to a halt. As the American economy rebounded post-World War II, the Meyers family purchased Riviera in 1953, eventually adding an additional nine that turned the property into one of Daytona Beach’s best.
The course remains under the care of the Meyers family, linking the layout’s rich history with a bright future.
Ross and his associates came back to the area to design New Smyrna Golf Club, which opened its first nine in 1949 and a full 18 holes in 1956. More than 60 years later, the par 72 layout retains its considerable allure for locals and visiting golfers alike.
Car racing and Daytona International Speedway may be top of mind today when it comes to sports in Daytona Beach, but golf is something you don’t want to miss and, it was actually here first.
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