While golf may not be the main focus during a trip to the Florida Keys, die hard golfers will still want to play the southernmost and only ‘Caribbean’ golf club in the U.S.
Just shy of the bridge into Conch Republic, the Key West Golf Club’s 200 acres sits along U.S. 1 and is partially surrounded by Keys-style homes. Designed by famed architect Rees Jones, this gentle 6500-yard layout is extremely playable and fun. Players will appreciate that Jones leaves most greens open in front with bunkers and water hazards catching stray sideways shots. Fairways are generous, with the exception of par-4 holes 6, 7, and 17, where a chute of fairway surrounded by mangroves and water might make for crowded tee shots. Otherwise, blast away.
Greens are not overly large, and because undulation is not severe, Jones leaves many pin positions available to spice up variety on the fast and true putting surfaces. Some greens have trouble long and the par-4 17th is extremely skimpy: a bunker, a huge, gnarly tree, and someone’s back yard are waiting, giving virtually no shot at recovery.
Most par-3’s are dramatic, beginning with the scenic 139-yard 5th, where waving seagrasses frame the water’s edge and bunkers are planted on either side of the green. Secret tip: after holing out, take time to whistle to the friendly parrot who resides in a house behind the green. He’s quite conversant and happy to provide wolf whistles worthy of any gallery you may lack. Upon stepping toward the elongated tee complex of the aptly-named signature 8th ‘Mangrove Hole’ mangroves are about all that is visible between you and the flag, save for the pinnacle of green protruding slightly above them. These are trimmed down semi-annually so that the green is not totally obscured. Fortunately, the hole isn’t long, 146-yards from the regular tee and 185-yards from the tips….but it is all carry except for the mercifully placed bunker in front providing respite for under-clubbing. Ladies and shorter hitters may still have trouble at 129 yards, but a drop area behind the green offers some relief. The 16th, at 140-yards, or 76-yards from the Forward Tee, is also totally over water with mangroves and trees guarding both sides of the fairway and bunkers in front and back. Houses and trees are also directly behind so don’t overclub and anger the homeowners. Best to hit the green and be done with it.
Florida wildlife is in abundance here with egrets, Ibis, pelicans, Muscovy ducks, migrating eagles and hawks, and iguanas galore no trouble to find. One alligator has been removed. One bird was enjoying a coconut on the 10th tee. No rum in it, as one might expect here.
The Forward tees offer a great opportunity to score well for both seniors and women. At barely over 5000 yards, the course is especially enjoyable for those who don’t hit it a mile. Also offered are the ‘Coconut Tees’ for juniors, or really, anyone else who would like to play them…..including adult beginners.
In season rates of $97 run from November to April, with Twilight play, generously beginning at 1:30pm, priced at $72.
Off season runs from May 1 through October 31 and 18-hole fees including cart, range from $42 for juniors under 18 to $72 for adults, plus 7.5% sales tax. Twilight rates, again beginning at 1:30pm are $52. But do realize, that at about 42 degrees latitude, when the sun sets…..it sets.
Yearly, ‘Snowbird’ and Summer Memberships are available and offer walking at no charge prior to 8:30am and after 2pm. Nike rental clubs are $40. There is no full driving range but instead you can warm up at an area totally covered by a net adjacent to the clubhouse A bucket of balls costs $8.
If you are a new golfer – or a non golfer – the Adult Golf Development Program might be for you: ‘Become a Golfer in Just Three Weeks’, which sounds mighty attractive for such a notoriously difficult game. But then, you’re in Key West, where there’s always something notorious going on all day….every day.
Key West Golf Club is located at 6450 E. College Road Key West, FL 33040. For more information call 305.294.5232 or visit www.keywestgolf.com.