The Deltona Club–Resurrection

The short par-4 8th, reachable from the correct tees, gives a sense of the character of The Deltona Club's property.

The short par-4 8th, reachable from the correct tees, gives a sense of the character of The Deltona Club’s property.

Insiders always spoke highly of the former Deltona Golf & Country Club for its nostalgic simplicity, sandy soil and beautiful elevation changes that qualify as exotic for this flyover region between Orlando and Daytona Beach.

Unfortunately the holes themselves had less appeal. Like most unmodified courses of the era, the 1964 design by regional architect David Wallace was exhausted, its gravity faded away.

No more after a sleight of hand revamp in 2007 by Bobby Weed and associate Chris Monti.

What Weed and Monti did to the property was more a conjuring than a renovation. By gouging away elongated sections of earth in the rough areas lining holes and near greens they summoned into existence the site’s underutilized natural attributes: deep wells of sand and topography. A fresh and fascinating course was resurrected.

Grass and rough areas that were largely out of play were trenched out and turned into sand barriers that require no irrigation and little maintenance.

Grass and rough areas that were largely out of play were trenched out and turned into sand barriers that require no irrigation and little maintenance.

The sandscape buffers create a dramatic and heightened sense of definition that was always available but never used. It makes The Deltona Club one of the most visually distinctive golf courses in Central Florida.

The routing is two out-and-back nines with holes coupled together between residential corridors, but their breadth and arrangement across a smart land plan gives the course the feel of core golf.

The original green locations were almost all excellent, sited on crests and ridges, but they were small and dull. They’re now enlarged to better match the rolling scale of the landscape, although that means the lack of significant contour is even more of a letdown, especially given how right everything else is. After adding acres of bunkering Weed might have been wary of overwhelming the local clientele, but I think that doesn’t give them enough credit. Nuance is squandered on a setting like this.

The gorgeous par-5 13th weaves through the sandscape toward a deep, notched green at the property's highest point.

The gorgeous par-5 13th weaves through the sandscape toward a deep, notched green at the property’s highest point.

In fact, Weed’s cut work increased width and movement in the old, linear fairways. There’s an enormous amount of latitude off the tee–even for high handicap players–while protruding fingers of sand on holes like 5, 7, 12 and 15 are game for hitters who want to fly corners and work their drives off the slopes.

The club’s best holes–13 through 16–climb almost 50 feet up and down a high point of the large sand ridge that runs through town and include a rising par-5 with a deep and deceptive green, a long downhill par-3 across a cascade of bunkers and a short par-4 with an uphill tee shot and blind approach.

Players can try to work the drive right-to-left around the bunker at the 7th to reach the green in two at this short par-5.

The bunkers and a gentle flow of land encourage a right-to-left drive to get into position to hit the fallaway green at the long par-4 6th.

It’s an absolute page turner tee-to-green with great sequencing plus elevations and ground movement that place it in a microscopic class of Florida courses.

Holding it back from a slightly higher score are greens that aren’t as ambitious as the surrounding aesthetic promises and two new holes, the 9th and 18th (a short par-3 and a 300-yard par-4 with a tree 75 yards in front of the green), that are weak finishers. Weed had to re-jigger a few things in this section of the design to make space for a future condominium development should the owner ever want to maximize the land’s value. Real estate overriding golf is nothing new in these parts–thankfully its impact is so minimal here (91).

The Deltona Club

Deltona/Orlando

Artchitect: David Wallace/Bobby Weed (2007)

Year: 1964

There are very few places in Florida that can offer sweeping uphill tee shots like this one at the short par-4 15th.

There are very few places in Florida that can offer sweeping uphill tee shots like this one at the short par-4 15th.

 

 

 

 

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