There is a temptation to call New Smyrna Golf Club, a municipal course, a hidden gem, but such a characterization glosses over the fact people seek out the Donald Ross layout tucked away in a community known for its surf town beach vibe and just a short drive south of Daytona Beach.
“We get it all the time (people traveling from around the country to play the Ross course),” said Gary Wintz, the long-time head pro at New Smyrna Golf Club. “We get a lot of people from up North (in particular) because Ross courses are all around up there.”
Ross is the godfather of American golf course architecture and more than 60 years after the opening of New Smyrna Golf Club, his influence continues to be felt. That being said, it takes more than the architect’s name to allow a course to maintain its place in a golf market as strong as Daytona Beach’s.
Here are five reasons a tee time at New Smyrna Golf Club remains a coveted one:
● Ross provided the design plans for the course in 1948 and it opened in 1955, but just as importantly, there has been a commitment to maintaining the quality of New Smyrna GC, including a 2016 greens renovation project that included the installation of paspalum grass. “They are like a pool table,” Wintz said of the greens. “They are fast and smooth.”
● Not only are the putting surfaces in pristine condition, they allow players to enjoy the full Donald Ross experience. Ross is renowned for building challenging greens complexes, and he didn’t disappoint at New Smyrna Golf Club, where the putting surfaces are small and undulating. The flat-stick will be the most important club in your bag.
● The course is easy to walk - greens and tees are located in close proximity - and it provides an equitable challenge for players of all skill levels. The white tees, the course’s most commonly played, are 6,135 yards, a manageable length for mid to high handicappers. The layout tips out at 6,543 yards, but tightened landing areas combined with a little wind off the nearby Atlantic Ocean will provide even the best of players with a significant challenge.
● Speaking of challenges, the layout’s most difficult hole is the 392-yard fourth, which features a creek that crosses in front of the green. Anything that comes up short is wet and with a bunker on the right, there isn’t much room to miss laterally. Avoid a big number on No. 4 and you’ve set the stage for a strong front nine. Conversely, the 303-yard, par 4 16th offers the day's best opportunity for birdie. Long hitters have a chance to drive the green and everyone should be inside of 100 yards, playing to a green that runs back to front. Make birdie or, at worst, par and finish the day with a flourish.
● New Smyrna Golf Club, obviously, isn’t among Ross’ most famous designs but the course gives you a taste of his genius. Players are required to play a variety of shots and those greens have the ability to vex the best of golfers. New Smyrna Golf Club is a character-filled design that players with an appreciation for architecture and Ross’ role in the game’s history want to play.
For more information on planning your next golf getaway, visit DaytonaBeach.Golf today.