Northeast Florida, just west of St. Johns River, in the quaint
little town of Palatka, you'll find a vintage Donald Ross golf
course that offers an authentic experience at a very reasonable
Club was designed by Donald Ross in 1925. In a natural, clutter-free
environment, its 18 holes gently tumble over the sandy ridges
and wrap the tranquil woods of Ravine Gardens State Park.
at Palatka Golf Club revolves around the game's traditional cornerstones:
a reasonable price, interesting holes, and a pleasant staff that
loves golf as much as you do. The course can be played quickly
and enjoyably, offering golfers the best thrills of the game
without taking up the day.
Club is maintained and managed by Bobby Weed Golf Design (BWGD).
Robert C. Weed, Jr., ASGCA is a 59 year old golf course designer,
builder, and protégé of Pete Dye.
Bobby Weed ASGCA
Weed never thought hed be managing a golf course,
but neither was he going to let another historic area course
designed by Donald Ross close. In this case it was the Palatka
Golf Club, built in 1925 and one of a dozen or so Florida courses
Ross designed in the 1920s and 1930s.
I sat around
and watched the Ponce de Leon [in St. Augustine] close without
doing anything about it, said Weed, who designed area courses
such as the Slammer & Squire and Fleming Island Golf Club,
and renovated Timuquana and the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club Lagoon
Course. Maybe I could have done something about that if
I had gotten involved. I wasnt going to let it happen again.
So a few years
ago when Weed heard that Palatka was in danger of being closed
by its owner the city of Palatka he swung into
action. After forming a coalition of business and community leaders
to back him, he convinced the city commission to let him manage
a course that had suffered from years of neglect and had dropped
from playing 65,000 rounds per year in the 1980s to barely 15,000
Designed by Donald Ross and built in 1925, the 18 holes of Palatka
Golf Club gently tumble over the sandy ridges and wrap the tranquil
woods of Ravine Gardens State Park.
design-partner Chris Monti said, "I don't know if the course
was doomed to close or not, but it certainly had suffered sufficient
losses to where the city was looking for alternatives. So they
issued a request for proposals from people to lease the golf
course. We responded with a proposal as did several other companies,
but no one wanted to lease the golf course. All of the proposals
dealt with fee for service management.
The 357 yard, par four 11th hole of Palatka Golf Club.
the city is still responsible for the golf course' operating
costs and its operating performance, but we are responsible for
its day to day management. Fortunately over the last two and
a half years we have shown substantial increases in rounds, revenue
and the membership roster. By most any metric the golf course
is seeing substantial improvement financially, and by in large
thats because its seeing substantial improvement
from a conditioning standpoint.
the maintenance model, revamping the clubhouse staff and improving
customer service, Weed, Monti, superintendent Dana Anderson,
general manager Andy Heartz and head professional Paul Trettner
have brought the course from the brink of closure to an example
of what Weed says will be a resurgence of the public golf experience
in the U.S.
The 178 yard, par three 14th hole at Palatka Golf Club in Palatka,
winter the course was in its best shape in decades and this summer
we start converting the fairways to a better strain of bermudagreass.
Golfers are responding to the improvements, said Weed.
And now the par-70, 5,862-yard course, dropped cozily into a
90-acre tract, is drawing back long-time customers who had grown
disenchanted with patchy greens, indifferent fairway conditions
and ragged bunkers. There are also a lot of newer players who
have heard of the short, quirky course by word of mouth and are
eager to play a track that doesnt require 300-yard drives
to have a chance to score.
The very inviting 189 yard par three 3rd Hole of Palatka Golf
said, The Senior Azalea Amateur and the Azalea Amateur,
the clubs two signature events, attracted full fields last
year and by the end of this year, more than 40 fund-raising tournaments
will be played at Palatka to benefit charities related to first
responders, high school and college booster clubs, health, childrens
services and churches.
is not only a place to play golf but it does the community a
lot of good, said Bill Buck, who has played Palatka since
1958. A lot of charities depend on their golf tournaments
to raise money. This course is an important part to a lot of
peoples lives who dont play golf.
In terms of history,
few courses in the area can match Palatka. World Golf Hall of
Fame members Walter Hagen, Mickey Wright, Tommy Bolt and Greg
Norman have played there and so have major champions John Daly,
David Toms, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Lehman and Steve Elkington.
Weed said There
is still a place for a small public course in good shape charging
modest fees. The tables have turned and Palatka Golf Club
can be an example now, especially since its one of Ross
most clever designs, playable for juniors or beginners, but all
scratch players can handle from the back tees.
what Id call a comfortable course, Trettner
said. You dont have to be a bomber off the tee, but
you need a short game and you better have your putter working.
The 438 yard, par five 5th hole at the Donald Ross designed Palatka
all of the fairways are generous in width. There are no forced
carries over hazards off the tee or into the greens. Only one
par-4 (No. 18) is longer than 400 yards and the three par-5s
average 461 yards. There are five par-3s, none longer than 190
Palatka Golf Club
bounce it along the ground the entire course, Weed said.
You dont have to put it in the air. But theres
no overpowering this course. The hilly, undulating fairways kick
errant tee shots into the wooded rough and the small greens can
be difficult to putt.
was too important to the heritage of North Florida to let the
opportunity go by, Weed said. We knew it had tremendous
potential and we wanted to be part of the solution, rather than
watch it go away.
So if you're
looking for a course that is big on fun and light on your wallet,
find your way to the great golf at Palatka Golf Club!
1715 Moseley Ave., Palatka, FL 32177
Designed by Donald Ross - 1925
18 Holes, 5862 yards, Par 70