Duffer Dan – March 2009

It was a special treat for the Gang this month. We crossed the St. Johns River northeast into Volusia County to play a total redo of an old favorite… and were pleasantly surprised. Some of our magazine staff had been there earlier and were raving about the design changes and the outstanding greens. They weren’t kidding. The Deltona Club, previously the Deltona Hills Country Club, is an outstanding golf experience. Since 1964 the golf club had been the centerpiece of the Deltona community. In 2005, Wallace & son Bud Cahoon, owners of the Chesapeake, Virginia Cahoon Plantation, bought the club and in 2007 hired Bobby Weed to improve the dated and aged course. There is a wonderful mix of old and new, with new perfect tif-eagle greens, new tee boxes, which have been extended to accommodate the low handicapper (7016 yards) or the weekend hacker (4770 yards), a new irrigation system and an extraordinary new look.

From exit 111 A off of Interstate 4, left on Normandy Blvd, and then right on Elkcam Blvd, your first impression is the brand new parking lot with the new palm trees and vegetation. The temporary clubhouse has a pro shop, a snack shop with plenty of cold beverages for thirsty duffers, and a sitting area with flat screen television and reading materials, such as Florida Golf Central magazine. There is outside seating to enjoy the antics off the first tee and on the ninth and eighteenth greens. Between the two par 4, 18th and 10th holes is the huge driving range with chipping and putting practice areas. Head Golf Professional, Nathan Wilson, a good friend who has been there before the new owners took over, is available for that special lesson for the newbie’s who are just learning the game, or those players who are having trouble staying out of trouble. Speaking of trouble, Weed and his band of designers found the sand hills of Deltona and integrated the existing natural terrain with deep, large and plenty of waste areas throughout the course.

After checking in and getting our Yamaha golf car, we headed to the first tee where the starter recommended what tees we should use and the location of the facilities. The tee boxes on the par 4 #1 have been elevated, and there are new practice putting surfaces on either side for those wanting to continue working on that perfect putt. The 445-yard uphill first hole has a large waste area, two pot bunkers about 100 yards out, and a deep bunker complex just left of the greens that could be used as a bomb shelter. We were happy with bogey and ready for the dogleg right 440 yard #2. Call it dumb luck or duffer luck, but I found myself in the waste area right, while the Gang was safely in the fairway. Keeping my head down (which is normally not the case), I hit my second just short of the plateaued green and par was looking good. The downhill par 3, 3rd has a sloping green but can be pared by even a duffer. Crossing over a little road to the next hole, we stopped to enjoy some fresh water from the new drinking fountain. These new fountains are available around the course. While we are on the subject, libations were plentiful from our young cart lady who visited with us many times both on the back and front.

The number one handicap hole is the 462-yard par 4, 4th which tees off from a high vantage point to a valley and then climbs back up a hill to the green, which is protected, on the right by a waste complex. If you hit a good drive and second shot, your third should be a duffer specialty, a wedge into the green, and putting for par. I wish I could have played the other holes as good as I did here. The par 5, 5th is another hole, which you drive from a high point to a valley, less severe than 4, but then you have to climb a mountain to get to the green on the top. Your second or third shot will have to contend with a major waste bunker that cuts across almost the entire fairway. It is good to have some previous knowledge of how the old course played, and know extra clubbing is the key to stay out of trouble, and coming in from the left to the green is a better play. Six is another par 4, where the same downhill-uphill is prevalent but this time the green runs from front to back on a down hill slope.

The first real change from the old design is # 7, which once was a par 3, and has been incorporated with the old par 4 # 8 and turned into a challenging par 5. Then the old # 9, which was a par 5, has been dissected into a short par 4, about 332 yards from the tips, that plays all downhill and can be reached with a run out drive. And # 9 is a downhill short par 3 with plenty of trouble for the guys who like to think they can watch their short shots before they hit them. I know who I am.

The back nine begins with a 410 yard par 4, but make sure you give the group in front plenty of space. Because of the rolling terrain, you cannot see them if their drives make it over the apex of the hill. The smallish green is accessible but accuracy is key. An uphill par 3 that is 244 yards from the tips is your next challenge, and then a par four that is easy enough till you make the left hand turn and see what confronts you in front of the green. More sand- how did you know? My favorite hole is the uphill par 5, 13th, which is just a spectacular hole in my opinion. I love the view from the tee box, and the new design has placed a large waste bunker that you have to contend with on your second shot. The downhill par 3, 14th is 232 yards from the tips and another “Wow” hole. Old knowledge helped here by landing short of the green on the left and letting the slope do the work. The par 4, 15th is all uphill and the par 5, 16th is all downhill, and the duffer was smoking the gang. My pockets were going to be full this day. A straightaway par 4, 17th with 469 yards distance was a good bogey hole. The 18th is an entirely new hole, at 318 from the tips. There is a waste area if you are hitting straight at the green from the tee box. There are also some trees to contend with, but if you lay up left you will have wedge into the green.

The Deltona Club has a variety of membership programs that you might want to look into if you love mountain golf right here in Florida. Let me be very clear- this is one of the best golf clubs I have played in Florida. The diversity of the holes is phenomenal; the condition of the fairways, greens and tee boxes are superb. To learn more go to www.The DELTONACLUB.com or call 386-789-4811. Tell them the Duffer said to come by.