Course Spotlight

Incredible Golf Trip Destinations: Plantation on Crystal River Golf Club

By Chris Lewis
Published on

Located roughly one hour north of Tampa Bay, Crystal River is especially renowned for its manatee habitat. After all, the city is known as the “Home of the Manatee," as it draws thousands of visitors every year to snorkel and see the mammals up close in their natural environments.
However, Crystal River is becoming more and more popular for another key reason: the Plantation on Crystal River Golf Club. Within walking distance of an adventure center that offers manatee tours, the club has been attracting golfers since 1958, when it was designed by Mark Mahannah, an architect that created several courses in Florida.
Providing golfers a challenging layout that’s also very picturesque, the club is currently recovering from Hurricane Idalia, a Category 3 hurricane that struck Crystal River in August 2023. Shortly afterwards (roughly six weeks), the club had to recover from considerable tornado damage, too.
Yet, despite all of the recent challenges that it has encountered the last few months, the club’s staff members are focused on the future, as they’re showcasing the significance of patience, persistence and hard work. Determined to ensure the club continues to offer championship golf, immaculate conditions and gorgeous, natural views, its staff members are preparing for a steady recovery.
“The course lost 263 trees overall,” says PGA of America Golf Professional Sean McCabe, the course's Director of Golf. “Thankfully, nothing much else was destroyed on the course—just a few fences and tee signs, mainly.”
In fact, while golfing at the course, you’ll be as enamored by its beauty as ever before. Whether you’re taking a moment to relish the course’s lush, green landscape or its wide array of wildlife, including more than 12 species of birds, you’ll treasure every second you have on the pristine championship course.
Even though the course’s challenges have diminished, due to the extensive tree loss, you’ll still be tested in several ways. Regardless of your skill levels and experiences, the challenges are quickly apparent. First, you’ll have to encounter some narrow fairways that demand driving accuracy. Second, you’ll face numerous bunkers (53 in all) and water hazards, which have collected thousands of balls over the years.
Consequently, you won’t be able to focus solely on the course’s views every moment of your round. Instead, you’ll have to concentrate on its various challenges as well, including its signature holes.
“Hole 1 definitely stands out, as it’s scoreable, due to its short length (279 yards from the back tees),” McCabe says. “Don’t underestimate it though, as its undulated green is surrounded by bunkers.”
Hole 9 is also relatively short. Measuring 381 yards from the back tees, the par-4 offers accurate golfers an opportunity to make one final birdie on their first nine holes.
“Hole 18 provides a birdie opportunity too, as it’s only 374 yards from the back tees,” he stresses. “Golfers must hit their drives between the trees on the hole’s righthand side though, and then they should avoid hitting their approach shots in the water hazard that’s located on the green’s lefthand side.”
Measuring 6,496 yards from the back tees, the course was designed to challenge every golfer that plays it, yet still offer them an enjoyable and memorable experience, complete with some birdie opportunities. Not to mention, it has five sets of tees to choose from, thereby ensuring anyone can play—and thoroughly treasure—the course.
To further increase the likelihood of good scores, the club has a driving range and a short game area (for 50-yard shots or less) as well. Additionally, the club’s three-hole course, known as The Loop Course, helps golfers further sharpen their games, as it has two par-4s and one par-3. And, finally, McCabe provides personalized instruction, enabling golfers to focus on any aspects of their games they’d especially like to improve.

"Simply put, there’s something for everyone in Crystal River."

Sean McCabe, PGA
When golfers aren’t practicing, playing or receiving instruction, they’re invited to enjoy many nearby popular attractions. For instance, they can eat and socialize at the Plantation Resort on Crystal River’s West 82° Bar & Grill. Or they may participate in various outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding and the aforementioned manatee tours. Finally, they can stay at the Plantation Resort on Crystal River too, which has rooms, suites and villas, along with a pool, hot tub and tiki bar.
“Simply put, there’s something for everyone in Crystal River, in addition to golf,” McCabe emphasizes. “We welcome you to stay at the resort and experience its various amenities firsthand. You’ll definitely be glad you did!”
Other Fun Courses Near Plantation on Crystal River Golf Club:
Citrus Springs Golf and Country Club: Featuring five sets of tees, everyone can relish this 18-hole course, regardless of their skill levels.
Twisted Oaks Golf Club: Roughly 20 minutes from Crystal River, this links-style, 18-hole course offers challenging golf and gorgeous views.