Course Architect: Steve Smyers
Year Opened: 1993
Location: Haines City, Florida
Slope: 135. Rating: 74.7
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,227
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 426 Yds    10 - Par 4 471 Yds
                      2 - Par 4 374 Yds    11 - Par 3 216 Yds
                      3 - Par 3 233 Yds    12 - Par 5 551 Yds
                      4 - Par 5 555 Yds    13 - Par 4 461 Yds
                      5 - Par 4 378 Yds    14 - Par 3 167 Yds
                      6 - Par 3 187 Yds    15 - Par 4 369 Yds
                      7 - Par 4 454 Yds    16 - Par 5 548 Yds
                      8 - Par 4 413 Yds    17 - Par 4 421 Yds
                      9 - Par 5 542 Yds    18 - Par 4 461 Yds
                      Par 36  3,562 Yds     Par 36  3,665 Yds

Awards Won: Ranked #6 by Golf Digest - Best-in-State Rankings (2007-08),
            Rated 4 1/2 stars - Golf Digest's - Best Places to Play (2004),
            Ranked #6 in Florida - Golfweek's - America's best courses you can
            play (2004),
            Ranked America's best Top-40 Daily Fee Course - Golf and Travel


HISTORY: Located in the heart of Florida, Southern Dunes Golf and Country Club
was  one of  the first  designs  by architect  Steve Smyers.  From the  onset,
Southern Dunes has received raves reviews, including one of the top-10 courses
in  the  state of  Florida you can  play by  Golfweek and 4  1/2 stars by Golf
Digest's,  Best  Places to Play.  Living in Florida,  one thinks of flat, non-
discript  swampland.  If that's the case,  then you have never been to central
Florida.   Southern   Dunes  features  rolling  fairways,  elevation  changes,
contoured  greens and bunkers, bunkers and more bunkers. Nearly 200 sand traps
dot the layout, including 15 on the first hole alone. Despite the penchant for
leaving  well enough  alone, Smyers moved over 400,000 cubic yards of earth in
crafting  Southern Dunes. "The course was designed, built and is maintained to
play  fast and firm," commented Smyers. "To enhance the bounce and roll of the
ball,  and  encourage the use  of the slopes and  contours to advance the ball
toward the hole." Mission accomplished.

REVIEW:  The course starts  off with a straightaway par four with a handful of
bunkers  down the right  side and more sand on the left from 150 yards and in.
Three-metal down the left side of the fairway, will leave just a short-iron to
a green that slopes from the middle, to the front and to the back. A good hole
to  get  your feet  wet and  make par. The  second will  test your accuracy as
opposed  to  length, as the  hole measures only 374  from the black tees. Sand
once  again provides  the main  obstacle, however  the landing  area is  quite
sufficient  to  accommodate a fairway-metal or  long-iron off the tee to avoid
the  trouble. Just  a wedge remains to  a green protected on the right by sand
and  left by a  grass hollow. The putting surface slopes towards the center of
the  green, with a back-right pin the most difficult. Fairly simple, so par is
no  problem and birdie is definitely in the mix. The third is the longest par-
three  on the  course, stretching to 233 yards. It plays slightly downhill, as
the  green is  situated below mounds in  the back and bunkers in the front and
left.  The putting  surface is the largest  on the course at 45 yards deep, so
club  selection will  be critical. Although the fourth is the longest par-five
on  the course (555  yards), the hole can be had. A wide fairway target awaits
the  tee ball with  no trouble in site. A solid drive down the right side, can
set  up a chance  to get home in two, however the play should be to layup down
the  left side.  Numerous bunkers short of  the green and right loom large, so
play left to set up a simple pitch to an accessible surface. The green has two
distinct levels, so check the depth of the pin placement and attack. The fifth
is another hole where the player must think on the tee. Seven deep bunkers dot
the  middle  of the fairway  on this 378-yard par-four.  The right side of the
fairway  is quite wide  and will set up a short-iron, while the left side will
provide  a short-iron and  the best angle to the green. The putting surface is
guarded  on the right  side by a pond, which comes into play if you choose the
conservative  approach off the  tee. The green is not as undulating as some of
the  others,  so take  advantage  and  stick  it  close. The  par-three  sixth
showcases  some of  the elevation change at Southern Dunes. From the back tee,
the left side of the putting surface is partially blocked, however the trouble
is  not,  as three  bunkers flank  the right side  of the  green and are quite
visible.  The green  slopes from  back-to-front, but  is not  as severe  as it
looks.  The seventh  is the  number one  handicap hole  on the  course and  an
outright  gem.  Doglegging sharp  to the  left, this  par-four requires a much
needed  draw,  avoiding the numerous  sand traps that  flank both sides of the
fairway.  Your  second shot  with a mid-  to long-iron, will  play uphill to a
difficult  green with bunkers  on both sides. A slope on the right side of the
putting surface will cause chaos if your approach is off target. Mis-club on a
back-right pin and a three-putt could be in store. Not overly long, the eighth
is  usually played  into a stiff wind  and uphill. The fairway is quite large,
however  the entire right side to the green is covered by sand. Depending upon
pin  placement, your  second shot  could  require an  extra club  or two.  The
putting  surface slopes  from back-to-front, so if  the pin is up, do not miss
long,  as you  may putt the ball off  the green. The final hole on the outward
nine  is a  solid dogleg  right par-five.  If  the wind  is not  up, then  its
reachable  in two, but your tee ball must hug the right side of the fairway to
have  any chance. Big surprise, you'll find a bunker that extends from the tee
box  down the  right side of the  fairway to the 170-yard mark from the green.
The  layup area slopes from left-to-right and plays below the putting surface,
so your approach shot must be judged precisely to the uphill green. Guarded on
the  right by  a  pot bunker,  the green  slopes  from left-to-right,  however
mis-club short and your shot will roll back down into the fairway. Birdie is a
distinct possibility, but don't be dismayed with par.

The  home nine  starts off with the  second most difficult hole on the course,
the  471-yard,  par-four 10th. A  big draw will be  needed, as this hole bends
slightly  to  the left.  A good  tee shot  will set  up a  mid-iron to a green
protected with a pair of bunkers on both sides. The putting surface does slope
from  front-to-back  and to  the right.  A tough  hole to  birdie or even par.
Another  200-plus par-three, the 11th is a beaute. Slightly downhill, the one-
shotter  has double-digit  bunkers dotting the hole, but none that really come
into  play. The  key here is club  selection, as the green is broken down into
three  quadrants.  By the way, don't  miss long, as  your shot will run down a
steep  incline, leaving you little or no chance at getting up-and-down. A real
risk-reward hole, the 12th is an outstanding par-five that bends left around a
body  of water. A  solid drive down the left side must carry 200-plus yards of
sand  to  reach the fairway.  This will set  up the best  chance to go for the
green  in two. A definite risk, however their is plenty of opportunity to bail
out  right,  which in  turn will set  up an  easy pitch to  one of the smaller
greens on the course. The putting surface slopes from back-to-front and right-
to-left,  so  play below  the hole to  set up an  easy birdie chance. Although
ranked just eighth most difficult on the course, the 13th is one of the harder
holes out here. Stretching 461 yards from the back tees, the 13th plays uphill
from  tee to  green. Left side of the  fairway is key, as the right side falls
off  into the rough,  which can lead to a blocked second shot to the green due
to  an area  of trees.  A mid-  to long-iron  remains to  a difficult  putting
surface  that slopes left-to-right. No bunkers surround the green, which means
the  real difficulty is  the short grass. Miss right and long and you'll leave
yourself  a  tough up  and down.  The final  one-shotter on  the course is the
tantalizing  14th.  Just 167  yards, this  hole is  quite picturesque with its
dozen  or  so bunkers surrounding  the green.  Although the putting surface is
only  24  paces in  depth, it  is quite wide  from left  to right, making club
selection  extremely important.  If your tee shot lands on the front right and
the  pin is back-left, you might have a six-foot break on your putt due to the
swale  in the green.  If the wind is down on the 15th tee, then you'll have an
opportunity  to try  and reach the green on this 369-yarder. Playing downhill,
the  tee shot  needs to carry the  fairway bunkers and then let the slope move
the  ball  towards the putting  surface. There are two  other ways to play the
hole.  A fairway-metal short or left of the bunkers will set up a simple wedge
for  your  second shot. But,  what fun would that  be. The green is relatively
devoid of trouble, except for the false front, which could prove costly if you
come  up  short in two. A  good chance at getting  one back. The same could be
said  at the par-five 16th. At 548 yards, this straightaway hole requires just
brute  strength to overpower  it and make birdie or eagle. A big tee shot down
the  left  side can  set up  a shot  at the green,  but beware  of the trio of
fairway  bunkers that will snare an overly aggressive play. A fairway-metal or
long-iron  will  leave a  simple pitch  to the green  or, go  for broke with a
three-metal.  The putting surface is quite deep at 38 yards and tricky to boot
with  a  three-foot ravine  in the  center. Be  careful left  and right of the
green,  as  a pot bunker  awaits left  and a deep  traps flanks the right. Par
should  be your  worst score  on the  hole. The  17th looks  simple on  paper.
Straightaway  par-four of  421 yards and a wide fairway. However, looks can be
deceiving,  as they do  not tell the complete story. The hole, played into the
wind  can play havoc with both your tee shot and approach. The green, well, it
slopes  hard left-to-right and front-to-back, so depending upon pin placement,
you  could end up  with a birdie chance or a possible bogey putt. A back-right
pin  will force you  to play across a pair of pot bunkers guarding the second-
longest  green on  the course. The home hole  is just a grip it and rip it off
the  tee dogleg right.  Trees dot the right side of the fairway, so play left-
center  for your best approach to the green. The play is towards the left side
of  the  green, thus avoiding  the quartet of sand  traps on the right. Fairly
long putting surface, so know your yardage.

OVERALL: One of the things that strikes me about Southern Dunes is its variety
of  short, intermediate  and long holes. As  they say, variety is the spice of
life  and that is exactly what you get. Five sets of tee markers, ranging from
4,987  yards to  7,227 yards.  Next,  four distinct  par-threes, each  playing
around  a different wind pattern. The four pars range from three less than 400
yards to four over 450 yards. Even the par-fives, although all over 540 yards,
leave  the  players with  many options  on how the  play the  hole. There is a
slight  downside to  Southern Dunes, there are plenty of homes surrounding the
course,  however,  they are set  back, behind trees  and dunes, so unless your
really  house  hunting, you shouldn't  mind. Southern  Dunes reminds me of the
beautiful  courses at  World Woods,  or should  I say  World Woods  reminds of
Southern  Dunes, since they were both built around the same time. High praise,
since  the Pine Barrens  course at WW was ranked in the top-100 by Golf Digest
just  a few years  ago. Just 15 minutes from the Magic Kingdom, Southern Dunes
is  easy to  reach, although you need  to ask for directions, as the course is
located  behind  a shopping plaza  and the  entrance winds through the housing
development  that surrounds  the course. I would be remiss without telling you
about  the condition of the course. In a word, perfect. Tightly mown fairways,
superbly  cut bunkers and smooth as glass greens. And by the way, the price is
right.  Just $50  to a high of $110 from mid-January thru mid-April, take that
Disney. You will  most certainly make  a mistake if  you miss playing Southern
Dunes. Where  should you  tee it up in Orlando? Great question. Your not going
to play Isleworth, Lake Nona  or Bay Hill. So  the answer my friend is blowing
in the wind at Southern Dunes.