Celebration Golf Club has something special in store for everyone who tees it up. It’s the opportunity to play the last course designed by two of the best-known golf course architects in the business: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Robert Trent Jones Jr. The two combined their talents and created a one-of-a-kind golf course reflective of everything they ever created – separately and collectively.
Celebration Golf Club opened for play in 1996 and has been delighting – and frustrating – every caliber of golfer ever since. It’s the perfect place for golf professionals looking for a challenge while at the same time being playable for those just learning the game. After all, the Jones’ philosophy in creating the course was that “Every hole should be a hard par and an easy bogey.”
The course is not without its share of accolades, having hosted such events as the U.S. Senior Open Qualifier, the Robert Gamez Celebrity Invitational, Florida State Public Links Championship, Buick Scramble National Championships, and The Golf Channel’s Drive, Chip and Putt Finals. Celebration Golf Club has been ranked in the *Top 25 Public Courses” by Golf World’s 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards and rated 4 1/2 Stars by Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play”. The ladies like it too and have placed it in the “Top 30 Courses for Women” by Golf for Women Magazine.
On the scorecard, you’ll find 4 tee boxes listed: Black, Gold, Silver and White, however there are a couple of “combo” tees providing you with six distances to choose from. This makes the course playable for everyone, just pick the distance that best suits your game and when in doubt do what Jack says and Tee it Forward! A fifth set of tees gives you the option to play the course as 18 par 3s.
From the Black Tees, Celebration measures 7,023 yards and carries a course/slope rating of 74.5/140. The golds play 6,562 yards (73.6/138) and the Silver Tees 5,958 yards at 69.1/130. Ladies play from the White Tees which measure 5,181 (70.6/128).
In designing Celebration, the Jones’ took full advantage of the area’s natural pine forests and wetlands, and created a parkland style course that features a lot of undulation in the fairways, peripheries, and green complexes. Trees and wetlands make up the borders of many holes. The course is designed around a series of lakes and along the way you’ll find clusters of live oaks, pine trees and magnolias, which really add to the beauty of the course when they are in bloom. The Champion Dwarf Bermuda greens are finely sculpted and roll true and fast.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 4, Par 5, 482 yards (Gold Tees). Most players will likely opt to play their tee shot out to the right and make this a 3-shot hole however the risk takers will try and hug the left side, leaving the shortest distance possible to the green in an effort to get on in two. If you decide to gamble, be warned that your second shot is a long carry over water, followed by a large bunker before you reach an elevated green. It’s a daunting task, especially with a pin on the left side. If you opt to play down the right side, three good shots can still set up a birdie attempt. There is a lot of subtle undulation in the green.
Favorite Par 3: Number 13, 188 yards (Gold Tees). Another par 3 with a forced carry over water to a long narrow green flanked on either side by bunkers. The good news is that if you come up short, there’s about 30 yards of bailout area. The green is elevated, making it a bit tricky for a bump and run shot from the fairway. Remember what I said about a hard par?
Favorite Par 4: Number 9, 379 yards (Gold Tees). Finding the fairway on the 9th hole is critical if you want to score well. The natural area to the right is easily reachable from the tee and there is considerable mounding up the left side, making for some interesting lies. The left side of the fairway makes for the best angle into this small green, flanked by bunkers.
Favorite Par 5: Number 18, 557 yards (Gold Tees). On most quality courses, the finishing hole is usually one to remember and Celebration does not disappoint. This par 5 just happens to be the longest hole on the course, but its length should not intimidate. There’s plenty of landing area off the tee and the layup shot is wide open as well; best to do so short of the water hazard on the right. This will leave about 100 yards to the green, but be careful, the fairway gets very narrow the closer you get. Approach shots need to be spot on as there is a hazard to the right and a large deep bunker left waiting to catch errant approaches. There is a lot of undulation in the green and depending on pin placement, a two-putt may be considered a success!
Last Word: Thinking your way around this course will go a long way in putting up favorable numbers on your scorecard. While length is good, especially in getting on the par 5s in two, all of which are reachable from the Gold Tees down. Placing your shots where they need to be is a necessity. Water will definitely factor in to the equation as well; it’s present on 17 holes and in play on most of those. Bunkers have been carefully placed, so tee shots need to be struck crisply and accurately placed and many of the greens are elevated. From the Black Tees, there are a lot of forced carries, many of which are eliminated by moving up a tee box. If you’re a golfer in the area, this is a course that should not be missed.
Celebration Golf Club is rife with amenities, including a unique aqua range with several floating targets, a short game area with practice bunkers, a practice putting green. Inside the beautiful clubhouse you’ll find a pro shop stocked with all sorts of golf accessories and logoed apparel. Both the men’s and women’s locker rooms provide showers and changing areas. and the Windmill Restaurant and lounge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
For more information or to book your next round at Celebration Golf Club, visit their website at www.celebrationgolf.com.