VERO BEACH, Florida – Sandridge Golf Club, a public course owned and operated by Indian River County, features two 18-hole layouts, both designed by acclaimed architect Ron Garl, who has designed and renovated over 250 courses around the world.
The Dunes course, opened to the public in 1987, is classic layout that winds around an old ridge that runs up the East Coast of Florida and was once used for mining operations. The Lakes course, opened to the public in 1992, features one of the toughest holes in South Florida, the par 4 14th. Players visit from around the globe to take a shot at the par 4 14th and its challenging island green.
“Vero is a great town, and the people at Sandridge are wonderful,” said Ron Garl in an email before my visit.” “I’m sure you will enjoy your day. The Dunes and Lakes are both popular and golfers have been enjoying playing them for more than 20 years.”
The twilight rate on the Lakes course at 3 p.m. is $50. which draws many locals. A spacious putting green directly behind the clubhouse is a nice place to tune up the putter before heading to the driving range, located adjacent to the Dunes course first tee.
The Lakes course offers nine sets of tee boxes and a player-friendly course, with choices to move up so higher-handicap golfers can enjoy. The men’s White tees measure (66.5/117) – 6426 yards and women (70.9/134) – 5423 yards.
At first glance you’ll notice manicured fairways and above-average tees and greens, that roll fast and true on every putt. On the four par 3s, the bunkers, gassy swales and nearby water hazards will keep you focused or you’ll be chipping with a difficult recovery shot.
The third hole par 4 and the fourth hole par 5 share the same body of water on the front nine. The right side of the third has water running the entire length while the fourth has water in front of the tee box running almost to the 100-yard marker on the right side. The fourth green is raised with bunkers protecting the right front. The eighth hole par 3 has water to the left of the tee with wetland extending in front of the entire green.
On this did my pitching wedge got a good workout around the greens. Most of the fairways offer generous landing areas and this nine features a pleasant supply of water hazards, doglegs, bunkers, and marsh/water crossings.
Hole No. 10 is a par 5 with water on both sides of the fairway. No. 11 is a short par 3 that leaves nothing to your imagination and offers you a generous opportunity for a birdie putt.
Hole No. 12 is a par 4 hole and the beginning of award-winning designer Ron Garl’s masterpiece that will be forever inscribed in your memory. Water runs the entire length of the fairway along the left side while the right side has trees, shrubs and berms awaiting a fade or slice.
Hole No. 13 is par 4 that plays straight with a fairway pitched right along with another raised green that has a bunker right front and a steep slope just off the right side of the green.
The 14th par 4 hole will have you talking to yourself from start to finish. Your drive to the left side to a fairly straight fairway is critical, since more water hugs the right. Your drive must be straight and preferable long, leaving a second shot over water to an island green. The green is large and receptive, and this is one of my favorite holes.
Hole No. 15th par 4 hole has water left off the tee and water right running the entire left side. Put away your driver because it’s a short hole that has more water sneaking into play in front of the right side of the green.
The par 3 16th requires a simple (if there is such a thing in golf) pitch shot over water to a relatively flat green. Be careful you don’t go long because it’s a raised green, with a sloping hill behind, falling into deep rough.
Hole No. 17 is a par 4 with more water running the entire length on the left side. This partial island green has a small landing area to its right but your second shot to the pin will be over water. There can be some serious sucker pin placements here so be wary and when in doubt play safe.
I found the the final hole at the Lakes course majestic and memorable. The wide fairway at the beginning of the hole allows you to “grip it and rip it.” Your second shot should be left to avoid water running the entire left side of the fairway, that curls up in front of the green, except for a small walkway on the left side. A truly impressive hole.
Booking a tee time at Sandridge Golf Club is time well spent, offering a choice of two great courses. The Dunes course is a traditional Florida course, encompassing the natural environment, and 18 challenging holes. The Lakes course takes it one step further by adding a little touch of Florida’s rainforest and inserting all its by-products into the mix.
Choose either Dunes or Lakes course, you’re in for a real treat!
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