By Scott Wyckoff, PGA Head Professional - World Woods Golf Club
Beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder, but when the beholders are thePGA.com Advisory Board*, beauty is pretty definitive. We've asked officials at each course selected to tell us in their words why their course is an appropriate representative for The World's Most Beautiful Courses.
There are so many beautiful golf courses in the world and it's certainly exciting to be cited as one of the Most Beautiful by such an esteemed panel. And while we might not enjoy the visibility of some of the other courses on the list, it doesn't surprise me in the least to know that our name is brought up when the conversation is about the 'best of the best.'
World Woods Golf Club is actually two 18-hole layouts (Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks), both of which you will see on many similar listings of the world's best courses. Pine Barrens enjoys a little higher profile, and for the purposes of this feature, is the one cited as a "Most Beautiful", but that should not diminish at all what a spectacular course we have in Rolling Oaks. And the fact that we have both here on one property is what makes us a rare commodity and unique draw in the golf world. Also unique, our 22 acre circular driving range, our 50,000 square foot practice putting green, and our three practice holes (a par 5, a par 4 and par 3) that many players use to prepare for their round rather than hitting a bucket of balls. Separately, these amenities are different and very appealing, but together -- as part of one golf resort -- they are truly beautiful.
As for Pine Barrens, I will do my best to describe why it is a 'Most Beautiful' course, but words don't really do it justice. Descriptions will give you a taste and some pictures might add some flavor, but you really have to experience this Tom Fazio masterpiece in person to get the complete meal.
For starters, though we're located in Central Florida, about an hour from Tampa and two hours from Orlando, Pine Barrens is atypical of Florida courses. With our rolling terrain, pine tree-lined fairways, dramatic elevation changes, and 44 acres of waste area strewn throughout the course, it would certainly be understandable to think you've somehow transported a few area codes north. But being where we are also adds another element of beauty, the incredible Central Florida climate. It's always golf season here and nothing beats teeing it up beneath the Florida sunshine.
Tom Fazio's use of the waste areas throughout the course provides a stunning visual as well as incorporating a great test for golfers. While simultaneously bringing out the uniqueness and definition of the course, it creates some forced carries and penal areas on misses that bring out a different type of challenge than many golfers are used to playing.
I think that's critical to why World Woods, and Pine Barrens in particular, is held in such high esteem. We offer a different type of experience for the golfer. From the level of service you receive to the always pristine conditions of the course, we strive to make your time at World Woods Golf Club unique and memorable. Consider this: how many of the other courses on this list are located by the ocean? I'd venture to say most courses that are considered 'Most Beautiful' incorporate a lot of water into their environment. For all the accolades we've received, water definitely does not play a part. In fact, you can only find water on two holes on the Pine Barrens course. So when we talk about the beauty of the course, we are emphasizing the course. And there are other things you will not find on Pine Barrens: signage for one, houses for another. We offer one of the most natural, serene and pure golf experiences you could find anywhere.
I often hear and read how we are Florida's answer to Pine Valley. Certainly there are some similarities, but we feel very good about how we measure up on our own merit. Of course, it's not a bad bar to be measured against, but our goal is for World Woods Golf Club to be the bar that other facilities are measured against. And we work very hard to establish ourselves at the top. Our guests are the beneficiaries of this effort and they have let us know that we're well on our way. And more than any list or survey, that's our greatest reward. That is why World Woods Golf Club is beautiful.
* The World's Most Beautiful Courses is a list of courses selected by the PGA.com Editorial Advisory Board. The only prerequisites asked of the Board were 1.) they select courses open for public play and 2.) they not vote for their own course. The top 10 courses will be featured, in no particular order, other than the top vote getter which was selected by a unanimous vote.