Village Golf Club
- Year Opened: 1975
- Designer: Mark Mahannah
- From the Tips: 6,860 yards / par 72 / 72.7 course rating / 134 Slope
- From the Short Tees: 5,062 yards / par 72 / 68.7 course rating / 117 Slope
- Walking allowed? Yes — all day, every day
- Address: 122 Country Club Dr., Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
- Website: www.thevillagegolfclub.com
It’s easy to describe the Village Golf Club in a single word: underrated. And it’s easy to understand why that’s the case: The course sits smack in the middle of a ridiculously golf-rich locale, with a next-door neighbor that ranks among Palm Beach County’s most ballyhooed tracks.
That would be Madison Green Golf Club, a lustrous, upscale jewel of a course that draws universal raves. I can’t tell you how the Village GC compares with its zip code mate – I have yet to play Madison Green as of this writing — but I can tell you the Village is well worth playing.
As one of the first courses I toured after moving to the area – it’s among the few that don’t require a cart at least part of the day — the Village GC helped dispel my preconceived notions of South Florida golf. You know, dead flat fairways crunched by encroaching condos; more water than turf; artificial to the core.
Instead, I found the Village GC to be a refreshingly natural layout (despite the presence of housing along its outer boundaries). Architect Mark Mahannah did a splendid job of weaving holes between stands of cypress and pine trees while working canals and ponds into the routing without beating golfers senseless with long, forced carries.
The Village GC isn’t a backbreaking test. It’s neither overly long nor tight. But from the back tees or even the 6,444-yard middies, you’ll have to earn a good score. There are several solid par 4s, a sturdy set of par 3s, and only one par 5 (No. 9) that’s easily reachable in two shots by average to good golfers.
Standout holes outnumber the ho-hummers by a wide margin. In fact, only a couple of holes fail to register in the memory after a round or two. My favorites include No. 1, a strong uphill (that’s right, uphill) par 4; No. 4, a par 4 where the daunting approach is usually played cross-wind; the short, par-4 13th, whose green perfectly matches the hole’s demands; and No. 14, a tough-looking par 3 that actually plays tougher than it looks.
The 12th hole is the real highlight. On this par 4 measuring 449 from the tips, your drive must thread the needle between flanking woodlands to set up a long second shot. The massive, bunkerless, pushed-up green features a false front and all sorts of interior slopes and swales. I dare say this brute would fit right in on Pinehurst No. 2.
I’m not suggesting the Village Golf Club belongs in that kind of company. But it’s a darn good course that deserves more attention than it gets. Call it a sleeper, an underdog, or a hidden gem – I call it a fine representative of South Florida golf.
Daniel Mitchell is a golf writer and Golf-Newz.com contributor who lives in Jupiter, Fla., a few miles from Tiger Woods as the crow flies but worlds away in every other respect. An avid golfer since age 12, Mitchell carries a (shaky) single-digit handicap, investing far more time in his dogs than his swing.