In looking for new places to play, The Golfing Dads tried Winter Pines Golf Course in Winter Park, Florida. This course was designed by Lloyd Clifton and opened in 1968. Tucked away in a neighborhood, Winter Pines has some unique holes due to the available land. Both the fairways and greens are Bermuda grass. From our experience, water comes into play on 5 holes but, for the most part, isn’t a factor.
There is no bag drop. The clubhouse is essentially one big room that serves as a pro shop and restaurant. In the area just past the pro shop is where the garage for carts is located.
The hitting area on the driving range is large back to front. There are several areas where practice tee boxes can be placed. At the very back of the driving range, Winter Pines has set up mats to help protect the grass areas. The driving range has distance markers at 100, 150, 200, and 250 yards. On the weekday we played, the course moved the tee markers up to the front of the hitting area to protect the better grass towards the back of the driving area. We found the grass where we hit from to be adequate but unspectacular. It almost looked like crab grass.
There was no area near the clubhouse to practice chipping or work on your bunker game. There was, however, a chipping area and green near the 9th tee. From all appearances, this practice area was not used much by anyone except people who live near the golf course. The putting green was in poor condition. Grass was sparse with areas that looked almost like they had been painted with dark green paint. Unfortunately, these conditions were like what we experienced on the golf course.
Although the website lists 5 separate tee boxes, we only found 3. On the website, there was a Blue tee box listed that measures 5,401 yards, a White tee box listed that measures 5,065 yards, and a Red tee box that measures 4,548 yards. Winter Pines’ website also lists a Blue (W) tee that plays to 5,401 yards and a White (W) tee that plays to 5,226 yards. The score card only lists Men’s tee boxes that play at 5,401 yards and Forward tee boxes that play to 4,548 yards. Par for the 18 holes is 67.
Conditions of the tee boxes were poor. There were areas of dead or no grass. In several instances, we had to move around to find an even surface for our stance. On the course, there were several good areas to hit from including the limited rough. There were also some poorer areas that necessitated rolling the ball to get grass under the ball.
Areas around the greens was similarly poor. We found several areas where there was no or limited grass. Green were similar to the practice green where some spots appeared painted with dark green paint. Flags are colored so that red means front pin placement, red/white means middle pin placement, and yellow means back pin placement. There are markers on the course for 200, 150, and 100 yards.
On the front side, Hole 5 is the number 1 handicap hole. It is 400 yards from the Men’s tees and has a wide open, large fairway. The hole plays to an elevated green that is basically sloped front to back. Any putt from above the hole could roll off the front of the green.
Hole 6 isn’t overly long but must be played from the left side of the fairway. There are several trees on the right side of the fairway that blocks a player’s shot to the green.
While not overly long, the Par 5 7th hole requires 2 good shots to get to the slightly elevated green.
Hole 9 is likewise not long but has out-of-bounds on the right side of the fairway. Even if a player stays in-bounds, a 2nd shot could be obscured by trees that make it impossible to hit to the green. In front of the green is a small pond that requires carry to the green. The 2 Par 3 holes aren’t long (150 and 163 yards respectively).
There are no Par 5 holes on the back nine but there are 5 Par 3 holes. What the back nine lacks in overall distance is made up by the fact 3 of the Par 3 holes are over 200 yards from the Men’s tees.
Hole 12 is 224 yards and plays to a slightly elevated green. A bunker guards the right side of the green so avoiding that is key to making a par.
Hole 15 is 215 yards and is guarded on all sides by trees. Any stray tee shot could cause a player to lose a shot by having to punch out.
Hole 17 is 213 yards and has a slightly elevated green. There is a bunker on the right side of the green.
Of the 4 Par 4 holes, Hole 10 plays to 473 yards. The tee shot must be placed on the right side of the fairway due to the dog leg left set up of the hole. A tee shot too far to the right, however, could end up in a little stream. The remaining 3 holes are all similar in length and unremarkable.
Greens could be described as awful. There is currently a warning pop up on their website that talks about the conditions of them and that they are running their summer rates in the winter time. There was little to no grass and the holes were poorly cut. Instead of sharp, crisp edges, the hole had rounded edges. As mentioned, the greens looked to be painted with dark green paint in several areas. On a couple of greens, pins were placed near previous hole cut areas making putting almost impossible due to an uneven surface.
Dads Say So, find another place to play. While the course website claims Winter Pines is known for beginners and novices, we found the conditions so poor that beginners or novices would become frustrated. It is tough enough to play the game well, you don’t need to let the course beat you up and increase your score too. The experienced player would not enjoy the experience due to the conditions of the golf course either. For more information on Winter Pines Golf Club go to www.winterpinesgc.com.