Winter 2017 issue of Florida Golf Magazine features "The Florida Golf Architecture of Arthur Hills" Click here to read it.
Old Trail “Hills Course” at Jonathan’s Landing in Jupiter, Florida
Written for Florida Golf Magazine's by Golf Course Architect, Arthur Hills
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Jonathan’s Landing "Hills Course"
18505 Clubhouse Dr., Jupiter, FL 33478
Hills Course - Architect: Arthur Hills
Year Opened - 1989
18 Holes, Par 71
Rating / Slope
71.7 / 133
70.4 / 129
68.3 / 120
73.0 / 130
65.0 / 118
69.8 / 121
The "Hills" at Jonathan's Landing Golf Club, by Arthur Hills, ASGCA
I remember back to 1989 when we were designing and building the Hills Course at Jonathan's Landing in Jupiter, Florida. The site was only about a hundred acres. Therefore, the emphasis was on strategic planning. At a maximum length of just over 6300 yards, the par-71 layout is not overly long, but still requires thoughtful shotmaking if one is to be successful.
The natural beauty of the cypress hammocks, winding wooden paths and abundant wildlife add to the course’s charm. Golfers and community residents alike truly appreciate that there are no interior roads or residential units to spoil the serene “nature preserve” environment.
Of the two courses at Old Trail, the Hills Course, with its narrow fairways, is generally viewed by the members to be more difficult than the neighboring Fazio Course. Perhaps that is why Jonathan’s Landing hosts Player Ability Tests for the PGA of America on this course. They also host all of their junior events on the Hills Course.
The course is tight and challenging with good holes requiring straight tee shots. Overall, the course has a nice rhythm. For instance, the first two holes are both favorites with the members in that one is known for playing relatively easy and the second is quite difficult.
Signature Holes at "The Hills Course"
The 1st Hole of the “Hills” is a beautiful introduction to the course, this palm tree and coquina rock lined hole offers a birdie chance to players keeping the ball in the fairway. Those misplacing a tee shot will find more difficulty when playing to this well situated raised green. Those who struggle when playing from bunkers will love this hole, as there is no sand in sight.
338 yards, par 4, 1st Hole, (No Sand!)
Measuring only 338 yards from the back tees, the first hole is a short par four and a really fun start for the longer hitters. With the convenient practice area left off the tee, and a palm-filled coquina rock waste area on the right, players want to keep the drive in play. It’s a good hole to begin the round since the potential for birdie is high if the middle of the fairway can be found on the tee shot.
560 yards, par five, 2nd Hole, "hardest hole"The 560 yard long par five 2nd hole at the "Hills Course" winds around trees and wetlands and great care must be taken if you wish to play the hole using only one ball.
In contrast, the second hole is regarded as the hardest hole on the Hills course. It’s a 560-yard, double-dogleg par-five with water down the left side off the tee. Beyond the first landing area, where the fairway turns to the right, trees define both sides of the playing corridor. The final 200 yards features environmentally-sensitive wetlands on the left and the tree line that buffers the adjacent 14th fairway on the right. It’s a tight hole that has a big intimidation factor on all three shots.
Five Par Threes at the Hills Course
I like the way that the par-three holes turned out at Jonathan's Landing and am pleased to know that the members enjoy them as well. One relatively unique feature of the Hills course is the back-to-back par threes found on holes 12 and 13.
An extensive environmental preserve area in the northwest corner of the property provided just enough upland on which to position the tees and greens on the two one-shotters. The “old trail” from the 12th green to the 13th tee is a sensory-filled passage through the wilderness. Beauty and challenge take another form on the par-3 15th. This lakeside gem favors a right-to-left approach if the water and a single bunker at the back right are to be avoided.
The last three holes of the Hills Course are most often called signature holes by the members at Jonathan's Landing Golf Club."The last three holes of the Hills Course are most often called signature holes by the members at The Old Trail Hills Course at Jonathan’s Landing Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida.
323 yards, par four, 16th Hole - HillsGetting close to the green on this short par four is not difficult, getting on the green causes most people problems. A raised and shallow two-tiered green with two deep bunkers protecting the front can turn the 16th hole from a birdie chance into a bogey very quickly.
Hole #16 is a lot of fun. Though not very long at 323 yards, it’s a picturesque par 4 with extensive mounding down the entire left side of the fairway and a long fairway bunker down the right. There’s a shallow, elevated, two-tiered green that is protected by two deep left-front bunkers. The 16th has one of the wider fairways on the Hills Course at Old Trail. However, the strategy of the hole requires a well-placed drive near the long bunker on the right if the best approach angle—one that mostly steers clear of the greenside bunkering—is to be realized.
406 yards, par four, 17th Hole - HillsA hole worthy of a place on any golf course, the seventeenth hole offers little hope to those looking for an easy finish. A generous landing area lies ahead from the tee but a narrow green flanked by a rock wall and hazard below make it a difficult approach.
The 17th is regarded as a signature hole by most members. It reminds me of a simplified version of the 11th at Augusta National. Although the tee shot is more open than its cousin in the neighboring state of Georgia, the second shot, with the similarly menacing lake on the left, offers little hope to those looking for an easy finish.
Don’t become careless off the tee, though, on this, the #8 handicap hole. An overcooked draw can eventually find water if the conditions are firm and fast. Players certainly don’t want to be hitting their third shots from 200 yards out on this solid test. Furthermore, the difficult approach to the green is significantly squeezed by a bunker on the right. This gem of a hole has derailed many a good round.
414 yards, par four, 18th Hole - HillsThe 18th is the third of three great finishing holes of the Hills At Old Trails. Rated the 4th hardest hole on the course, water must be negotiated both from the tee and on the approach. A raised green fronted by a deep bunker makes players work hard right to the end.
Earning the 4th hardest handicap rating, the 18th is a long par four and a superb finishing hole. It plays at 414 yards from the elevated back tees and 292 yards from the forward tees. As the third of three great finishing holes, water must be negotiated both from the tee and on the approach. A raised green accompanied by a deep bunker on the right makes players work to the very end.
First-time players who look at the yardage of the Hills Course and think they are in for an easy day will be surprised when they tally up their scores at the end of the round. Nevertheless, as the members will all agree, the hidden challenges of the “Hills Course” are perfectly balanced by the truly unique, natural beauty and serenity of Jonathan’s Landing.
- Arthur Hills, 2017
The "Hills" at Old Trail
18505 Clubhouse Dr., Jupiter, FL 33478
Jonathan’s Landing boasts three championship golf courses in Palm Beach County: The Village, The Fazio and The Hills. All three offer meticulously manicured greens surrounded by the natural beauty of landscapes that have made Jonathan’s Landing highly acclaimed and sought after.
That said, the Hills Course At Old Trail, designed by world renowned golf course architect, Arthur Hills, requires accuracy more than power. This award winning course is a true shot maker’s dream and offers stimulating play for golfers of all levels.