Par 29

Level 4 playing from 1,171 – 1,777 yards

A Pelican is a big bird, one of the largest in North America.  It’s also the name of a big-time course in The Villages.  Currently, many of its greens are under repair, but when it's right it's easily in my Top Five with a stretch of holes from 1-6 that will impress the best. It’s one of the hardest to get on and probably the most feared by fellow Villagers.  You'll earn a badge of honor to play Pelican - like earning your wilderness Boy Scout badge.  And if you have the fortitude to play it from the black tees, you’ll be an automatic Eagle Scout!  Some say it’s too hard.  I say it’s just "two" hard.  The 1st and 6th holes are two of the 18 hardest holes in town.  And the 3rd is certainly one of the best-looking shots you'll take.  But unlike the real bird, this Pelican doesn't come with a big bill - just pay your monthly amenity fee and it's free for you! 


Ok, let's get ready for takeoff.  As you make your final approach to the 1st tee box, make sure your golf cart seat is in the locked and upright position and your tray tables are stowed – prepare for some turbulence at liftoff cuz the 1st hole is the hardest opening shot in The Villages 151 from the golds with zero sightline to the cup.  You might see a piece of cloth flutter in the breeze – that could be the flag.  There's about 15 feet of landing zone once you make it past the marsh, but a large bunker on the left and a huge knoll on the back punish shots in either of those directions.  My best piece of advice is keep your head down and don’t look up – just let your friends tell you where you went!  Ready?  Ok, you are go for launch!  By the way, if Pelican 1 is the hardest OPENING shots in The Villages - can you name the two hardest closing ones?  (Quiz Question 20). The 2nd hole is nearly the same, except for just a slightly better view to the cup.  The green craters in the middle so be thankful if the cup is there and not placed up on the edge.   Get your camera and a bigger club out for the 3rd hole (pictured above). It's on my Postcard list as one of my 18 most beautiful golf shots in The Villages! And it's long.  Hope your camera has a zoom lens because there’s a large sand trap left of the green that can be unseen from the tee box when the marsh foliage is tall. And the hits keep coming - Pelican 4 will require a big flight off your driver.  It’s all water, or it looks like that.  Regardless of where you land, your second shot will be most likely over sand to a tight elevated green.   #5 is another looker with a huge American Flag flying over the Lake Miona Rec Center in the background - another worthy picture to take.  The 6th hole is the second par four and another of my 18 Hardest Holes in town (pictured above). From the tee box, it looks like complete chaos.  Marsh, then sand, then a fragment of fairway with a huge waste bunker on the left.  It's the epitome of blind and will cause even the best Pelicans to scream Fowl!  What a stretch of great golf holes!  This Pelican wingspan from #1 thru 6 includes two blind shots, a sand surprise, two fours with hazards galore, a tribute to the color green and Old Glory waving at you.  Can it get any better than that?


Pelican 7 is a nice break from the difficulty you've faced so far.  The green has been under repair for some time.  If it ever fully greens up is will be a beautiful setting - enclosed by oaks and palms with an upward sloping green that reflects the afternoon sun.  The 8th is equally attractive and secluded - similar to the closing holes at Gray Fox.   And the closing 9th hole is longer with a little marsh to drive but an unencumbered fairway in front of a gently sloping green.  It's a pleasant landing after a wild early flight.  So, after dropping your final putt on the 9th green, take a deep breath and revel in your accomplishment.  You earned your badge of honor and have a story to tell the Grandkids - first, that you even got on this course, second that you finished it, and most importantly, you can tell them that Sesame Street isn’t the only show with a Big Bird – The Village has one too and Pelican is its name!

Toughest to Easiest

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

From the Blacks!  

Yikes.  Off you go, into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sky!  A Pelican probably doesn’t fly that high, but you'll have to.  1,777 yards of flight from the blacks.  But get this - the longest most difficult par three awaits you on the closing 9th drive - it's over 200 yards!  #3 will get your attention too at 186. But first you must start from the start - this picture is Pelican 1 from the black tees.  Time for liftoff!   

Although every Pelican was once a birdie, your chances of getting one of those from black is as likely as you achieving flight by flapping your own wings!  But, you will have earned your Eagle Scout award!

Go Greens!

You’ll actually be able to see the green on the 1st and 2nd holes!  But the length to each is still long.  And you’ll still have to hit over water on the par four 4th.  The forward tees will give you the most advantage on the 5th and closing 9th hole.  And #6 will be a mystery – there are so many tee box options you won’t know until you arrive what fun is in store for you.  Bottom Line:  Pelican is the hardest course in The Villages and playing from green tees reduces some but not all the challenge - but you can't earn badge of honor if you're chicken!


How about an easy test following the hardest course? Pelican is one of 4 Villages executive golf courses named after an animal – can you name the other three? (Quiz Question 2) 

What's Nearby?

What's nearby Pelican?  Pelicans, of course! Each winter central Florida experiences the arrival of White Pelicans.  These are the real Snowbirds!  With a 9-foot wingspan (two feet longer than LeBron James!), these massive creatures fly into town and take up residence in our largest ponds.  I’ve seen them primarily on the northern side.  Their migratory pattern brings them here from December through March from as far away as the Great Plains and even northern Saskatchewan!  Here's a good easy read on the real Villages snowbirds

The scene from the 5th green looking back towards the 4th tees is picture perfect!

Pelican 6 is complete chaos - the good news is it's a par four, so you get an extra stroke trying to figure it out!

The 8th is a peaceful respite from the Pelican stretch you just played.  Soak it in because you'll need your head back in the game for the 9th! 

We lost a friend of ours last year.  Jim was a good guy with a sweet swing and equally sweet persona.  Our last round together was at Pelican - that's fitting as it's top-of-the-line.  Just like him.  RIP Jim. 

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.