Par 29

Level 3 playing from 1,106 – 1,787 yards

Uni Q!  That's how a friend says the word "unique".  That's a unique way to spell unique!  Uni Q would be a good descriptor for the Palmetto course.  In fact, there are three things about Palmetto that are unusual:

It's got two back-to-back par fours. It has four holes that ride along a busy retail road.  And it has back-to-back holes on my Postcard and Hardest lists.  In each case, only one other course has those same features - but no course has all three.  (see the answers below) It’s also one of the four longest courses, playing 1,787 yards from the black tees.  Can you name the other three longer? (Quiz Question 3) Ok - enough of the questions - let's play! 

The first hole is a great starter - it’s got all the anxiety features necessary for a first shot of the day – hitting over water, three sand traps and an elongated green.  No sweat!  #2 is an attention getter too, but for a different reason.  To me, it appears that the 2nd hole was originally designed to be a long par four.  The ride to tee box would seem to allow a far longer fairway.  What we're left with is a downhill drop shot that will tempt you to use a shorter club - but be careful you don't under drive into the sand on the front right.  #3 and 4 are short and play around a small pond with plenty of sand making you focus on accuracy, not length off the tee.  The 4th hole was where my friend Clyde made a par putt and did a happy dance.  And who wouldn't!  Now he reserves his dances for birdies!  #5 and 6 ride along the busy County Road 446A – a central corridor for The Villages with a lot of commercial and retail.  So, both holes will have cars on your left.  Maybe you’ll get a honk if you stick a shot to the center!  The best-looking shot along this section is the 6th with the Evan's Prairie Championship course in the background.  

Now make the turn - it’s time for Palmetto's best.  The picture above says it all.  Especially if you play near sunset.  Beautiful!  The 7th will require two perfect precision shots.  The 8th requires just pure muscle!  On #7, the water juts out twice on the right and there are fairway traps to the left, so your first landing zone is limited.  A pin placement on the right side of the green makes for precarious approach angle.  But even before you contemplate your strategy on this hole, take a moment to soak in the view on 7.  With the cart path and beautiful homes framing the left and the long shimmering pond on the right, Palmetto #7 easily qualifies for my Postcard List.  It's as perfect a golf hole as there is in The Villages.  Once in the cup, I wish I could go back and play it again.  And again!  Reluctantly, moving on - your turn south to the 8th tee box marks the fourth and final direction change, so the wind will likely be different and may be in your face.  That will heighten the need for a good long drive - Palmetto 8 is the longest hole in The Villages from the Gold tees, and the fairway slopes uphill.  When you're measuring your second shot, you'll know why this hole is on my Hardest List!  After that workout, cross over Pinellas Place to #9.  It’s a nice looking, short and slightly downhill shot to a green that slopes gently to the front left. 

There is no course in town that combines all the interesting features like Palmetto.  It truly is Uni Q!

Toughest to Easiest:

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

Answers to the three unique features:  1) Back-to-back par fours: Pimlico; 2) four holes along busy retail road: Loblolly; 3) Back-to-back holes on my Postcard or Hardest list: Sweetgum 7 & 8

From the blacks!

None of the par three from the blacks is longer than 158.  So, while you’ll have to club up on each, none are outlandishly long.  What will challenge you is the angle of approach on #1, 3 & 4 that’ll force you to deal with a lot more water and narrower greens.  Of course, the two par fours play longer (372 and 398 yards), so your second shot to the green on each will require a longer iron shot.  All in, you’ll still only need four clubs from the tees, regardless if you play from black or gold.  The two longer par fours make playing from the blacks most similar to a championship course, albeit a lot cheaper!  So that might the best reason to give it a try.

Go Green!

Courses with two par fours are still going to be long even if you're shooting from the green tee box.  But all the par three holes will be much less daunting, so I think Palmetto’s good to go green on.  The opening and closing holes especially will feel more comfortable.  You can also try hitting off a tee on your par four fairway shots if that helps you get more distance on the over long shots. 

What’s nearby?

My friends Bruce and Anne live very close to Palmetto.  That’s important because they’re our neighbors from Minnesota who first introduced us to The Villages.  So anytime I play Palmetto, I feel grateful to them for showing us the way to all this fun!  But they probably wouldn’t appreciate unannounced visitors, so here’s an alternative to what’s nearby – Jersey Mikes!  My favorite sandwich shop has a location on 466A.  You can see it from the #6 tee box.  The exact address is 5625 Seven Mile Drive.  And the exact sandwich to order is the #42 – Chipotle Chicken Cheese Steak!  Now if you're looking for a sandwich that's golf cart accessible you can find that at the nearby Subway in the Pinellas Plaza (2460 Burnsed Blvd).

Here's the best-looking least utilized tree in town.  It stands as a backdrop for the 2nd tee box.  Too bad the course wasn't designed to play around it more. 

Sky blue waters of Palmetto!

The 6th green is tucked next to the Evan's Prairie Championship course.  

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.