Par 27

Level 3 playing from 694 – 1,393 yards

I'd like to introduce you to my little friend Manny.  He's a 10-foot gator that's staked claim to the ponds between the 4th and 8th greens on Mangrove.  Like many Gators, he looks like he's smiling - probably because of the understated statement on the sign - Caution Indeed!  This sign should be posted at the black tee box on 4!  Much of the course rides along the southerly side of Evan’s Prairie, so you always get some views, some marshland, some wind, and of course, Manny and his friends!  Oh, and it's got one of the Hardest Holes in The Villages, followed by four fun shots, making it one of the toughest groupings of consecutive holes.  So, let’s be like Manny and get Mangoing!


First, remember there’s a practice putting green across Hendry Drive from the Starter Shack.  The whole course plays that side of Hendry so after checking in at the Starter Shack, head across Hendry to putt a little.  #1 and 2 are the most pedestrian holes of the day – don’t worry – the course gets far more fun and challenging soon.  But pedestrian doesn’t mean easy.  #1’s green funnels everything to the right toward the water so your first shot of the day needs to be precisely left.  And #2 has a challenging skinny green with water to the right.  Ideally, you score well on the first two holes because pars become harder in the middle section of this course.  #3 has a great view of Evan’s Prairie – which sure looks like a lake to me.  I’m from the Midwest and the prairies we have back there have "little houses" on them and are certainly not blue and wet like this one!  It’s also your first shot of the day that’s fully over water.  Yes, there is water under all that marsh, so don’t plan on retrieving any short shots!  And the green is a multi-tiered roller rink slanting back to front.  It’s a real tester for each of your allotted three shots.  But the real test is #4.  It begins a trek of five holes that are one of the best runs in The Villages.  Mangrove 4 is on my Hardest Holes list for both the optics and the logistics.  It looks freakishly far thanks to the large marsh - you can barely see the fringe in front of the green.  Your landing zone is long and tight, with a severe slope guarded by traps on the left - it’s a full-grown Man-Groan! 


#5 is a beauty, and a welcome respite from marshland.  Just place your shot between the traps for your best chance at par during this treacherous stretch.   Cross the road to #6 to play a fun shot uphill - it's longer than it looks.  Around the bend is #7.  This hole plays downhill but the trap in front and water on the side scream out “don’t be short”!  Be safe and hit it long.  #8 has a pesky trap on the right and subtle rolling and dipping green that I think is Mangrove's toughest.  It's also your last chance to wave hello (or preferably, goodbye) to Manny in the pond to your right.  The 9th is your last look at Evan’s Prairie.  Don’t let its beauty lull you into complacency - be aggressive with a solid swing.  Then take your time as you putt, just like on #8, it's a very subtle challenging rolling green. 


Man, what a beauty!  Mangrove is the perfect balance of danger, looks and cautionary guidance.  And a celebrity Gator!   

Toughest to Easiest:  

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

From the blacks!   

The 3rd hole changes the most if you play Mangrove from the blacks.  That's if the tee box is set up to shoot over water (pictured below).  I've played the blacks from two different tee boxes on #3.  One is just straight back from the golds, but the other more challenging (and fun) set up is from a box very near the 2nd green, forcing you to hit over more marsh.  You can never get enough marsh!  And the dimensions of the elongated green make it harder to stick.  I hope that's the set up for you - it’s one of the best shots in all The Villages!

You'll also experience more stress on 3 other holes if you play from the tips: #2 will require more water to cover, #4 requires a driver from 190 yards, and #7 will require more precision as you attempt a drop shot over the front traps from 160.  Manny will be watching it all! 

Go Green!

With all par threes, Mangrove is the shortest course from the green tees.  This makes it an ideal course to play and still enjoy one of the best tracks in town.  But, most often the tee boxes are set to still hit over marsh on the 3rd and 4th holes, so bring some water-balls!

What’s nearby? 

The Brownwood Paddock Square is less than a mile from Mangrove.  One of three Village squares, it’s the centerpiece and hotspot for the southern portion of The Villages.  Here are my favorites:  Best pasta – Prima; best flatbread – City Fire; best beer selection – the appropriately named World of Beer; best raucous environment – Cody’s; best patio – Blue Fin, best deserts – TooJays; best newcomer – Harvest; best shop for my wife - Rustic Rose; and finally, best combo – Scooples for Ice Cream or Breakfast (why not at the same time?!)  

This is the 3rd from far-left black tee box.  If that's where the blacks are set up, you have to shoot this!  From this angle, the green is more narrow and harder to land.  Aim for the green's right for an uphill putt. Manny will be proud you played this shot!

The view from the 4th green is great - if you look closely over the "prairie" you'll see golfers on the other side - that's the Osprey Championship course at Evan's Prairie

A tricky drop shot is necessary at the 7th. This is Mangrove's second hardest shot!

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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