Walnut Grove

Par 27

Level 3 from 1,030 – 1,529 yards

Walnut Grove shares a starter shack with its sister course, Briarwood. That alone make this combination unique.  There are only nine sets of these “sisters” in The Villages, courses that share the same starter.  Can you name the other eight? (Quiz Question 13) Walnut also shares a one-of-kind relational aspect with Briarwood as well.   The Walnut Grove course sits completely inside the Briarwood nine. It's as if one course is hugging the other. My family has a pair of sisters similarly close and connected. Two wonderful personalities, perfect apart, exceptional together.  One of those pairs was pulled apart with the passing of my wife's sister.  She was the life of any party and would have love The Villages.  So, whenever I can, I try to play Walnut Grove and Briarwood together to be reminded of sisters and their wonderful emotional connections. 


When two courses are so close it’s only natural to compare.  Briarwood has more distinctive holes including the hardest individual drive on #9, whereas Walnut is more consistently difficult across the board and especially down the stretch from the 4th hole on.  Both have immaculate greens, some of the best in town. Both have only par threes.  But Briar’s nine look and play like individual holes that could be dropped in on any course in town while Walnut’s look like they’re all related and fit together in a cohesive grouping that should never be separated.  Briar circles and surrounds - Walnut changes direction.  Seven times!  Sisters are not meant to be the same.  But they are meant to be together, contrasting the best of the other in an unbreakable bond.  


The first three holes are your best chance at par, so you better come out sharp.  #1 is slightly uphill – aim left away from the sand and don't be long as the green crowns in the center and rolls away in the back. The 2nd hole is a bit longer but the green is wide and flat.  #3 is the shortest of the starting holes.  But now comes the fun.  The 4th green (pictured below) is brutal, slanting hard left – don’t be right or your downhill putt could roll completely off the green!  Your next challenge is on #5.  It's easy to see why on the picture below - there's so much sand that the green is dwarfed.  But that’s an optical illusion – the green is wide and flat and requires just a carry of 128 from the gold tees.  Pop it up and let gravity do its thing.  Just don’t look at that sand!  After accomplishing that feat, move on to the hardest hole of the day - #6.  While on 5 you needed to drop it in, on #6 you’ll need to thread it through.  It's got a narrow frame of trees and a large trap on the front left (picture below).  From the putt on 4 through your drive on 6, you’ll have shared a common challenge with all Walnut golfers!  The 7th hole looks less daunting but it’s still 160 with sand and trees to navigate.  Finally, #8 does give you a bit of a respite, so take advantage to re-charge yourself for the closing 9th hole (pictured above).  The good news is that 9 plays downhill.  The bad news is that it has the largest trap on the course.  The good news is the green is wide and fair.  The bad news is your game is over.  But the best news is you can play it again!  I will for sure - it's one of my top five favorite closing holes in town!


Here’s my ultimate compliment to the course designers.  Not one of the Walnut Grove nine holes is on my Hardest Holes list, but I still consider Walnut Grove to be our most difficult Level 3 course.  Unlike others with one or two difficult holes intermixed with many easy, Walnut pummels you over and over with unyielding challenge. I finish feeling physically tested and emotionally stirred – and that’s the best combination of all! 

Toughest to Easiest

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

From the Blacks! 

Walnut from the black tees is simply unrelenting.  The shortest shot is 153 yards and the final four average 177!  But it may be the wind more than the length that is most impactful from blacks - because the layout changes direction seven times, even a mildly breezy day will impact your club selection and aim significantly.  Finally, the last three holes have more severe angles to the cup, forcing you to drop shots over traps from a long way out. There are five Level 3 courses that have all par threes.  Walnut Grove is by far the longest from the black tees – can you name the next four longest? (Quiz Question 15)  

Go Green!

I think Walnut is the toughest Level 3 course in The Villages.  So, playing it from the forward green tees makes a lot of sense!  It’s still over a thousand yards, so you’ll get all the distance you want but won't lose the feel or unforgettable satisfaction from competing on this track.  Your biggest advantage will come on #1, 3 and 8. 

What’s Nearby?  

Two miles south is an 850-seat concert venue, the Savanah Center.  It hosts famous musicians and tribute bands in a stunning setting.  Class up your night after a fun day of golf!  Here’s a link to their event calendar.  

A Walnut Grove Gallery

The 6th hole is the toughest - it requires pinpoint accuracy to squeeze through the trees and avoid that bendy bunker on the left. 

That's about a 5-foot drop from back to front on Walnut 4!  It's your toughest putt(s) of the day.

It looks like a lot of sand on the 5th.  And it is.  But most of the traps are not close to the green.  So, head down, swing easy and carry on! 

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.  

Create Your Own Website With Webador