Recently, The Golfing Dads had the opportunity to play Country Club of Mt. Dora. This par 72 golf course located in Lake County Florida. Mt Dora advertises the course as being 50 minutes northwest of downtown Orlando but this depends on traffic flow. It could be as long as 80 minutes from downtown Orlando. Designed by Lloyd Clifton and his design team, this golf course offers players different shot opportunities. On some holes, the player can “grip it and rip it” down a wide fairway. On other holes, shot making is paramount for a chance at good score. Of the 18 holes, 16 have water somewhere along or near the hole. Most of the greens are raised and have fall offs that could lead to pitch shots if an approach shot is short.  

On our arrival, we found workers in the cart area friendly. There was some confusion on cart assignments, but the workers handled the problem with courtesy. In the pro shop, we found employees friendly but very business like. They pushed our tee time back 30 minutes to accommodate their members. Of note, several members we interacted were friendly and outgoing. In fact, they offered to drive us to the driving range when the cart workers were busy. Our interaction with the food service staff was minimal. There was no opportunity for drinks or food on the course as no one drove food carts on the course when we played. Although we saw few maintenance workers on the course, the majority were friendly.

Like what seems to be a growing trend of golf courses, Mt Dora had an “Aqua Range”. There were no markers to help a player determine distance. We saw a couple islands and flags but with no rhyme or reason. On hitting some practice shots, the golf balls sounded almost hollow and didn’t fly very far even when hit with a driver. The area where we hit practice shots from was well maintained and showed the maintenance staff moved the tee markers around. The grass was good and very similar to what we experienced on the golf course.

The putting green is small. At one point, we saw almost 20 players on the putting green and it looked like a group waiting for a bus. They were bumping into each other and couldn’t really practice putting due to the crowd. Also, the small green size didn’t allow players to practice long putts. In fact, the putting green was smaller than some of the longest putts on the course greens by almost half. Quality wise, the practice green was similar to most the course greens as far as speed and consistency.

Overall, we found the course wide open. With a few holes (3, 7, and 13), players needed to play for position due to tight sight lines. From the Black tees, this course measures 6,484 yards. There are 4 other sets of tees measuring from 6,074 yards (Green) down to 4,994 yards (Red). With the raised greens, the course seemed longer. On the front 9, there are 3 Par 3 holes and 3 Par 5 holes. The back nine has 2 Par 3 and 2 Par 5 holes. Of the 5 Par 3 holes, number 17 measures 205 yard from the Black tees. Otherwise, length of the other Par 3 holes is not onerous. Four of the Par 5 holes are over 500 yards with the longest being hole 15 (539 yards from the Black tees).

The 2nd hole is a par 5 that requires positioning off the tee as there are trees and homes down the right side of the fairway. A player’s second shot has to be precise so as not to be blocked out by trees on the left side of the fairway near the green. Mt Dora’s 3rd hole looks tight from the tee and has was down the left side from 175 yards through the green. This hole requires a player to hit a shot near the 150 marker for an open shot to the raised green. Hole 7 looks very tight and requires the player to hit a precise tee and 2nd shot. On the tee shot there is water and sand traps on the left hand side of the fairway. If you’re lucky enough to hit a tee shot in the fairway, there’s water on the right side of the fairway that could affect a second shot. Added to these hazards is a big tree on the left side of the fairway that could affect a second shot. Any tee shot to the right is blocked by trees and that’s if the ball doesn’t go into the water along the side of the fairway. On the back nine, hole 13 requires a well placed tee shot. The fairway is tight and favors a shot to the left side. For the longer hitters, a well placed tee shot allows for a chance to try to hit the green in 2 shots. But don’t be short-there is a bunker along the front and down the right side of the fairway looking to “catch your ball”. Hole 16 tests a players belief in there shot making ability. The best shot is to hit the ball straight and have a second shot of about 150 yards into a very receptive green. If a player wants to cut off 2nd shot distance, a fade down the right side will leave a much shorter shot. But watch out because trees on the right side of the fairway can block out a 2nd shot attempt. While Hole 18 is 416 yards, it is straight. The only issues we saw involved bunkers around the green.

We found the tee boxes okay. The maintenance staff was repairing the tee box on Hole 3 but the temporary area was somewhat bare. This was true on Hole 4 too. Fairways were very good, We didn’t have to roll the ball to find grass to hit a shot and the ball sat up nicely when in the fairway. Bunker quality varied. On Holes 2 and 12, the bunkers looked and felt like dirt. On Hole 13, the bunker was sand but a very thin layer. The fairway bunkers had a thin layer of sand too. Although we primarily used our range finders, we did see distance markers on some sprinkler heads.

Green quality varied. When the green was in good shape, the putts were fast and consistent. When the greens were not good, they were bad. Some of the greens seemd to have experienced grass dead spots that were growing back in but not yet completely covered. On several putts, we had to move the ball in order to avoid the “dead but regrowing areas”. Another issue was divot marks. Previous players must not have fixed their ball marks as we constantly repaired 4 or 5 marks on every green. Please keep in mind, the damage wasn’t only from the day we played. There were so many ball marks on greens that the damage must of occurred over many days and months. On one putt, there was a ball mark that cause a putted ball to “pop up” an inch on the way to the hole.

Dads Say So, in comparing our experience at Mt Dora to last year, the course was night and day better. It is our our understanding course ownership went to the residents and members within the last year to ask for a household assessment and increased member fees. We feel ownership has put the money back into the course and not their pockets. Our overall experience was favorable at Mt Dora. To book your tee time now go to ccofmtdora.com and set up your tee time.

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