When my youngest daughter turned five she held up her hand and said she was a “full hand”.  Minutes later she thought of a funnier line and said “I’m a handful!”  She was right.  She’s our families writer/comedian/pot-stirrer.  That makes her an appropriate advisor on anything I write, so her fingerprints (or would it be handprints for this analogy?) are all over this website. 

Fittingly, I’ve titled this list of my favorites as High Fives! 

Here are the topics>>>>>>>>>

High Fives:

  1. Five Best Courses
  2. Five best stretches of holes
  3. Five best courses for Beginniners
  4. Five best opening and closing holes
  5. Five Tallest Tee Boxes


Five Best Courses

The Villages has 41 executive courses.  It's tough to pick a favorite five.  Everyone will have their opinion.  My criteria doesn't revolve around their level of difficulty, aesthetic appeal or how well I score. Instead, the five are courses I'd choose to play if guests were coming for a visit.  Playing all five on consecutive days with my friends would be the absolute best - showing off the diversity and quality and providing a resounding answer to "why do I live here".  My five include established and newcomer courses, some on the outskirts of town, each boasting unique characteristics.  Some feature tree-lined fairways and canopied greens.  Others have dramatic elevation changes and wicked wetlands to navigate.  All are simply captivating!  And fun!  Here are my top five in alpha order>>>

    1. Amberwood – The classiest track with spectacular greens and oak lined holes.
    2. Gray Fox – (Holes #1,8 & 9 pictured in the aerial photo) Cut out of the Fenney Springs Wetland - the opening and closing holes feel like I'm back home in northern Minnesota.
    3. Longleaf - a great track with the most famous tree in town!  It's hard and gorgeous and always fun to play.
    4. Mira Mesa – Vintage course with narrow fairways, small greens and some of the best trees in the area.
    5. Roosevelt – Who says Florida is flat?  Every hole has elevation change and challenge.

    See pictures of them all by clicking here

    2024 Update - Pelican has been in the top five in previous years, but the repairs underway on the greens make it almost unplayable now.  Hope they can get it fixed.  Longleaf has been added in its place for now.

    Five Best Stretches 

    Sometimes you come across a stretch of holes that are so good you want to immediately go back and replay them again.  What makes a perfect stretch?  For me they've got to be interesting, uniquely designed and attractive with just a touch of toughness.  And when you've finished, you simply want to shoot them all again! 

    Here are my favorite five>>>

      • Bacall 5-8 Two of the four are in my Hardest Holes list and the other two could be on the Postcard List - that's like a movie star stretch-limo!
      • Bogart 3-8 Not to be outdone by its sister Bacall, these 6 holes strung together are Key Largo perfect in difficulty and appearance. 
      • Churchill Greens 4-9 A remote setting with evergreens, horses, ravines, fences and fours (pars that is - two of them!) That's the 6th hole pictured.
      • Pelican 1-7 Two beginning blind shots, two fours with hazards galore, postcard perfection, surprise sand and a shot at Old Glory!  Now that's a stretch!
      • Sweetgum 5-8 One long, one marshy, one beautiful, one impossible.  That's diversity at its finest!

      Honorable Mention:

      • Amberwood 5-7 (the most difficult stretch in town)
      • Belmont 5-9
      • Heron 5-9
      • Briarwood 2-5
      • Mangrove 4-7
      • Pimlico 4-9
      • Saddlebrook 6-9

      What stretches are your favorites?

      Five Best Courses for Beginners

      There is no place better to be a beginner golfer than in The Villages.  There are three golf academies that offer beginner lessons. Three brand new putting courses have been built where you can start your love affair with golf on the shortest shots!  My favorite is the Clifton Cove Course in the Sawgrass area.  Then you can branch out to using a few more clubs by playing one of the Pitch and Putt courses.  The newest are Richmond and Mickeylee.  When you feel more comfortable, try one of my Top Five executive courses for beginners >>>>>>>>>>>

      Hope to see you out there!

      • Sarasota and El Santiago were designed just for beginner golfers - shorter holes with huge flat greens with oversized 8-inch cups to make putting easier.  And there's fewer sand and water hazards to navigate.
      • Chula Vista is a Level 1 course near Spanish Springs that's advertised as a "walk in the park".  I agree.  It's only missing the park bench and dogs running free!  When I've played it there's never "big-hitters" playing, so you won't feel pressure to play fast, or even good - just have fun! 
      • Turtle Mound is another Level 1, more in the center of town. It's perfect for new golfers or those who just want to enjoy the game without pressure.  Plus, it has the best-looking sand traps in town! 
      • Lowlands is a Level 2 course, and it does have two par fours for you to stretch out.  You may want to experiment with teeing up your shots on the fairway, not just on the tee box. It has some water but none where you have to hit directly over.   It's where I played my first game as a Villager! 

      Five Best Opening and Closing Holes

      When you're standing on the first tee box of the day, or pulling your ball up from the last cup, there are a select few places that feel better than the rest.  We all like stories, like a good book or movie.  The best get your attention early and finish fun.  The attributes that make a "best" opening or closing hole will differs for everyone. For me it's more how it looks than how difficult it plays.  Is it unique and does it show off the designer's creativity?  Do its surroundings entice you to soak it all in?  Amberwood 1 is a good example.  There's just something about it that feels good and makes me happy.  So much so that it's featured on the banner portion of every page on this website.  What are your favorite places to start and finish?  I've got ten.  Five on the first drive.  Five on the final.  And each drives home a smile, gratitude and appreciation!


      Opening Holes:

      1. Amberwood 1 (pictured)
      2. Gray Fox 1
      3. Loblolly 1
      4. Mira Mesa 1
      5. Tarpon Boil 1

      Closing Holes:

      1. Gray Fox 9
      2. Heron 9
      3. Saddlebrook 9
      4. Sandhill 9
      5. Walnut Grove 9

      Gray Fox is the only course with a best opening AND closing hole! No wonder it's one of my top five courses!

      Five Tallest Tee Boxes

      I love views from highpoints looking across a sweeping vista of sights!  Why am I living in Florida then?  The tallest point in the state is 345 feet - that's just a little taller than a football field is long!  The Expedition Everest in Disneyworld is 199 feet tall and it takes just a minute to be pulled up to the top of the ride.  Hardley the Andes.  Guess the Florida weather is a pretty good draw for me too.  It's no wonder then that once in a while I come across a view worth an extra inhale.  Sometimes that happens on a tall tee box.  Here are my favorite five>>>>>>

      1. Hill Top 3 (pictured across)
      2. Volusia 3 (pictured below)
      3. Truman 2 (It's 2 with a view - and on the Postcard List)
      4. Roosevelt 3 (although the scene from the 2nd green is even better and taller!)
      5. Escambia 4 (from that height it's no wonder this hole is on the Hardest List)

      Honorable Mentions for great tee box views are El Diablo 9 and Sandhill 9