Gray Fox

Par 28

Level 4 playing from 956 – 1,842 yards

Gray Fox is one of the crown jewels of The Village Executive Golf Courses.  It's a gotta-play-it course!  4 holes are in one of my top lists, the most of any executive course.  One of the first things you notice when pulling up to the Starter Shack is the seclusion and the winding path through the trees that points you to the first hole – the setting and surroundings are superb.  It reminds me of north woods courses in Minnesota!  Keep an eye out for wildlife – I’ve seen raccoon and turtles and lots of egrets, especially on the opening and closing holes.  I’ve also heard wild boar and possibly some larger cats in the trees.  Seems likely there's a resident Gray Fox in there somewhere too!  The only drawback is the location, deep into the southwestern corner of The Villages, so likely a long cart ride for most.  You can drive and rent a cart though, so don’t let location lessen your pursuit to play one of my Top Five courses!  Plus, you can make a day of it by also playing its sister Red Fox course and eating dinner at the nearby Fenney Grill.  But first, golf>>>


The cart ride from the starter shack to the first tee box really sets the tone, transporting you well into the Fenney Springs Wetland (see skyview picture above). It’s an incredible way to open your round and the only par four, so your first drive will appropriately be with your driver.  This is where I first met my friend Paul.  He's got such a smooth and slow backswing I thought he was just practicing and nearly walked in front of his first drive - and that would have caused even more damage to my head!  Just like Paul, take an easy swing, aiming just to the right of the large fairway trap and you’ll have an approachable second shot to the green.  Another picturesque cart ride around bridges and bends brings you to the first of three Postcard holes.  #2 is the most secluded hole on the course, so the only on-lookers will be the wildlife!  Coming out of the wetlands to #3 and 4 shows off some of the newest homes in the Village of Hammock at Fenney – none of them were here the first times I played.  In fact, I think I have a hole-in-one at Gray Fox. But it wasn't conventional, nor countable on a scorecard.  During construction there were huge dump trucks working along the 3rd hole and one of my errant shots landed in the bed of a moving truck!  Or so we think!  Somewhere over there is a home with a Titleist 4 ball buried in its yard!  #3, the shorter of the two, has a tough green that drains back toward the tee.  #4 is a lot longer than it looks. #5 has an interesting phenomenon – it faces southeast into the prevailing wind – but because of the dense tree cover you may not feel it.  But a high lofted shot will, so consider clubbing up if you see the tops of the trees moving.  


Your next turn brings you to one of my Hardest Holes - Gray Fox 6.  It plays 179 from the gold.  It looks plain.  It causes pain.  The single right-side trap looks like the only issue, but on closer inspection the super narrow green has rolls galore – the combination of length and the narrow rolling green makes this the day’s most difficult hole.  #7 is again back toward the prevailing wind.  The scorecard says it’s 185 from the gold tees, but I’ve never played it that far back – usually more in the 150s.  There’s a distracting wetland to the right and a large trap near the green that tempts you to aim left.  But don’t do it.  Club up, keep your head down and swing easy aiming for the center on this incredibly cool hole!  #8 and 9 are back into the Fenney Springs and both on my Postcard List.  Two in a row!  #8 is longer at 151 yards with one trap on the left and a green that rolls toward the front right.  If the pin is behind the trap and you don’t feel comfortable dropping a shot over it, aiming to the right will still give you a good uphill putt.  #9 is short with two bunkers in play but you can drop a wedge or short iron straight down for a great chance to finish with a par.  When you reach for your ball in ninth cup, take a moment and look around at this magnificent golf hole - one of my favorite finishes. The whole course is easily one of the best!  

Toughest to Easiest:

6, 4, 7, 1, 5, 8, 2, 9, 3 – toughest greens 4 & 5

From the blacks!  

Gray Fox is one of the longest courses in The Villages from the black tees.  Only Bacall and Yankee Clipper play longer.  You’ll need to bring all your muscle and eat a good pre-game meal before deciding to play the blacks.  Honestly, I think Gray Fox is plenty difficult from the golds, so I don’t need to add more stress to make this course more challenging!  But if you do – I admire you! Many of my friends do, but I don't tell them I admire them - that would be too weird!  Here’s what you need to know:  5 of the 8 par threes play over 170 yards.  #6 from a whopping 212 yards.  And the 7th may be the hardest shot of the day to land from blacks.  But I’ve played from the blacks, earned my badge of honor and survived to brag about it!  So can you!   

Go Green!

The green tees of Gray Fox are nearly 50% shorter than the blacks.  This is the course you want to challenge those big hitters!  The first hole alone is 140 yards closer!  Five of the remaining shots play under 100, and you don’t lose any of the ambiance inside the Fenney Wetlands – this is my vote for the best level 4 from the greens!

What’s nearby?

The Fenney Grill is located on the same footprint as the Fenney Recreation Center. Request a table out in the screened porch with views to the pool and Fenney Springs backdrop.  Start the week out with Meatloaf Monday or try Thursday’s Seafood Lasagna.  And get there beforehand for live music under the trees playing Wednesday – Sunday.  Check out all the details here:  Fenney Grill

Gray Fox 1 is noteworthy in many ways. Besides being the best-looking cart path ride from the starter shack to tee box, it's one of only two courses that begin with a par four.  Can you name the other one? (Quiz #21)



My impressions are based on playing from the Gold tee boxes.  The Black and the Green tee boxes pose different challenges or benefits described as well.  The rankings of the toughest to easiest holes are just my opinions - yours will be far different, as will your favorite courses and most difficult and attractive holes.  I welcome your opinions or thoughts on any of this - click to leave a comment.  

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