WINDSOR, Florida – The story goes that in the late 1980s, when he was planning Windsor on land that was an old citrus plantation, Andrés Duany coined the phrase “new urbanism,’’ to describe the country club community here in Vero Beach, Fl. More than 30 years later, that phrase still fits, as Windsor remains a 472-acre showcase of luxury and comfort along Florida’s Southwest coast.
The vision of Toronto businessman W. Galen Weston and his philanthropist wife, the Hon. Hillary J. Weston, Windsor basically is a township of its own on a barrier island between the Indian River and Atlantic Ocean, featuring an outstanding golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II; village hall that doubles as a chapel; equestrian stables and paddocks; clubhouse; eight tennis courts designed by the legendary Stan Smith; gun club; two restaurants; wine cellar; art gallery and beach club.
Windsor’s approximately 325 equity members (membership is invitation only) represent a cross section of the Northeast U.S., Canada and Europe, with growing interest from Californians.
The Windsor Suites, located in the heart of Village Centre and overlooking the polo field, provides luxury accommodations for members’ guests. Also in the heart of the Village Centre is the Village Store, a terrific lunch spot for pool-side dining and snacks.
The Gallery at Windsor is an example of what separates Windsor from other private club communities. Opened in 2020, the Gallery exhibited such artists as Christo and Jeanne Claude from The Weston Collection, and quickly became a cultural centerpiece of the community.
One of the first communities planned by Duany, founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Windsor’s multi-million-dollar homes and condominiums, as well as other buildings, reflect a combination of West Indian and Charleston, S.C. That is, exclusive neighborhoods and amenities where the sun and ocean work in harmony. Bicycle and hiking trails flow through Windsor. For many residents, golf cars are the preferred methods of transportation.
Windsor’s newest amenity is among its more beautiful – the Caribbean-style Beach Club Cabana Bar, designed by architect Clem Schaub. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Beach Club Cabana Bar, which opened earlier this year, features a central bar flanked by two seating areas. There’s not a bad view anywhere around the 2,123-square-foot, open-air venue.
Windsor’s next phase is a 47-acre North Village neighborhood slated for 34 home sites, each with lake views. The neighborhood will focus environmentalism and feature 12 acres of open park spaces, as well as more than 12 acres of lakes and water features. A network of nature trails will meander under the shade of the area’s established natural landscape. The neighborhood is Windsor’s tribute to W. Galen Weston, who died this past spring at the age of 80.
Despite all of the other amenities, golf remains the centerpiece of Windsor. One of only a handful of RTJ II-designed courses in Florida, the golf club’s rolling fairways are framed by wind-shaped trees and native vegetation. When construction began on the course 30 years ago, the Weston’s mandate to Jones was to create a “Serengeti by the Sea.’’
Jones did just that. The course (7,116 yards from the tips, par 72) is an ideal members’ course in that it demands attention to detail on every shot while at the same time being a fair test for players of all skill levels. It’s a layout its members and guests should never get tired of playing, with just enough nooks and crannies to keep things interesting on every hole.
“Everybody loves the course,’’ said Windsor Head Golf Professional Matthew Challenor. “There really is not a bad hole out here.’’
There’s water on half of the holes, but most members play the course from around 6,300 yards, so some water hazards aren’t in play as much as they are from the back tees. The water features begin in the second hole, a fine 415-yard (tips), par-four. Water protects the entire left side of the fairway to the green, but there is room to bail out on the right. The longer the approach shot, the more difficult par becomes as ridge in the green likely with kick most shots left back toward the water.
The approach shot on the 392-yard (tips), par-four 15th hole requires a carry over water to a shallow, rock-walled green that bends from left to right around the lake.
Jones might have saved the best for last. The 379-yard (tips), par-four 18th is a quintessential “local knowledge’’ hole. That is, the 18th features a wide, dual fairway bisected by a bunker complex. Jones forces players to decide whether to play over a series of cross bunkers to the right fairway; or take a more conservative route to the left fairway. The landing area on the right give players the best angle, but any errant tee shot to the right or left makes for a difficult approach to a green fronted by a lake and defended by deep bunkers to the right.
It’s a fun hole to play from the various tee boxes – all the way down to 301 yards – to test accuracy short-game skills and most of all, nerves.
The golf course, which is still reaping the benefits of a recent, $10 million renovation conducted by Jones and his design team. has five sets of tees (down to 5,248 yards), plus three sets of Combo tees. The renovation included pruning subtropical vegetation to widen fairway corridors, introduced more air and light to the newly resurfaced greens, tees, fairways and rough.
“The golf design business is in an era of retro thinking, with more low-profile, naturalistic courses in vogue,” Jones said. “With that in mind, we refined our concept at Windsor, softening the mounding that delineates the fairways and hewing closer to our goal of a windswept, links-style course where both the ground game and the aerial game can be played and enjoyed.”
The course has no set tee times for members and few rules.
“Everybody seems to have the same mindset,’’ Challenor said. “It’s just a great mix of people enjoying life.’’
Life in the New Urbanism.