Ask anyone that has taken up residence here and they will tell you that the Ocala area has it all. The nearby Rainbow Springs connects to the sparkling Rainbow River and produces more than 460 million gallons of crystal clear water daily. The Gulf of Mexico and all its wonderful beaches is about half an hour away. And as Florida goes, the climate is perfect; just look at the live oak trees, many of which are hundreds of years old; you’ll see them throughout the property. The area also offers endless recreational opportunities directed towards seniors. In short, it’s a great place to live.
One community that exemplifies a laid-back style of living and offers fantastic recreation is Juliette Falls in Dunnellon, about 40 minutes southwest of Ocala on US-40, and about 35 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. Juliette Falls boasts 540 golf home sites on 546 acres; 136 acres of which are part of a nature preserve. The nature preserve features 5 miles of trails, perfect for walkers, bikers and hikers, and offers a sometimes much needed “get-away-from-it-all” ambiance. The homes in Juliette Falls are concrete block with stucco with floor plans and range from 3 to 6 bedrooms and 1,500 to over 7,000 square feet. Home prices range from $200,000 on the low end to over $1 million. Garbage collection, satellite TV, internet and lawn maintenance are all included in monthly HOA.
The centerpiece of the Juliette Falls community is the par 72, John Sanford-designed championship golf course. Sanford Design has been a part of over 60 course projects worldwide, in such locations as Japan, Egypt and Canada. Golf Aficionados may recognize the Sanford name from his days with Nicklaus Design.
Juliette Falls is consistently ranked as one of the best golf communities and courses you can play in the entire state of Florida. Shortly after opening in 2008, Golf Digest ranked Juliette Falls in the top five “Top Ten New Courses You Can Play” in the country. The next year, the magazine ranked it #5 “Top Ten Best New Courses”. Another accolade bestowed upon the course comes from WorldGolf.com, who in 2016, ranked it #4 on their “Best Under-Publicized Golf Courses in Florida” list; which is great for golfers looking to get on a great course relatively easy.
From the back tees, Juliette Falls plays 7,236 yards with a course rating of 75.4 and a slope of 143. The White Tees will give most golfers all they can handle from 6,269 yards (70.4/130) and still allow them to leave with some dignity. Ladies will have an enjoyable time playing the Red Tees (5,071/69.3/123). Five sets of tee boxes make Juliette Falls fun and challenging for all golfers who choose to play from the set of tees that best suits their game.
The rolling hills of Ocala’s horse country have paved the way for this beautiful, thought-provoking golf course. Juliette Falls winds its way through mature pines, live oaks, flowering magnolias and seasonal annual flowers which adorn the property. For most, the four man-made waterfalls are the aesthetic highlights of the course, especially on the par 3, 13th, aptly dubbed “The Falls”. Wide open fairways give way to well-manicured sand bunkers and waste bunkers lying in wait for errant shots. Water comes into play on 6 holes and creates a dramatic approach shot to the 18th green.
In addition to one of the best golf courses in the area, Juliette Falls also has some of the best practice facilities. This 10-acre practice facility makes working on your golf game fun and you can practice from dawn until dusk. The practice facility includes a state-of-the-art turf range with multiple target greens and bunkers that create a sense of actually playing the course. There’s also a short game area directly behind the driving range complete with a practice bunker and a huge, undulating putting green to get you ready for what you’re about to face.
The clubhouse features a pro shop with all of your favorite logoed apparel and golf accessories as well as separate bar and dining areas. Prime rib is featured on the last Friday of every month and at $20 a plate, attracts a large area following. The rest of the time, Kitchen Manager Scott Bartman serves up some great sandwiches and burgers. No fries though; Juliette Falls has gone the healthier route and rid their kitchen of deep fryers. Sides include potato salad, coleslaw and Miss Vickie’s Chips.
Here are some highlights from the golf course:
Most Memorable Hole: Number 17, “Double Trouble”, Par 4, 362 yards. Waterfalls aside, I’ll always remember the large waste bunker on #17 that splits the fairway in two. Keep It left and you’re more likely to hit the fairway; there’s also a lot less carry over sand to get to it. The right side is the more direct route. Either way, a good drive will leave a mid-iron slightly downhill to a green well protected by sand.
Favorite Par 3: Number 13. “The Falls”. If I can only pick one, this has to be Juliette Falls signature hole; it is by far the easiest on the eyes. At only 147 yards, it’s the shortest – and easiest – hole on the course. Water makes up the left side of the green and left pin placements can be tricky as you’ll have to fly it on if you want to get it close. The green is long, narrow and well undulated. No matter how good – or bad – you do on the green, look at the waterfall behind it and you’ll forget all about your score.
Favorite Par 4: Number 18, 408 yards. Although it plays slightly downhill, it’s going to take two well struck shots to reach the green on “Viking Challenge.” If the 408 yards is a little more than you can handle in two shots, play down the left side of the fairway. That will take the water on the right side of the green out of play. Sand left and water right makes this the most challenging hole on the back side.
Favorite (and Toughest) Par 5: Number 6, 517 yards. “Reflection Lake”. This is your first glimpse of water on the course and it only requires a short carry to put it in the rear-view mirror. Playing down the right side of the fairway takes the long waste bunker on the left out of play. Hitting your layup shot across the fairway to the left side will take the largest of the greenside bunkers out of play. Your approach shot is uphill to an elevated green that can be hard to hold. With all the roll in the green, a two-putt is good.
Last Word: Juliette Falls is more than a place to live or a place to play golf; it’s more about a lifestyle. While the community and clubhouse may have a laid-back feel, the course is anything but. Pick the tees that best suit your handicap and you’re guaranteed a fun – and challenging – round. The course is well manicured and the greens roll true. Most holes have plenty of room off the tee, setting up what Juliette Falls is all about – the second shot.
Approaches are challenging, although unlike many Florida courses, it’s not the water that will get you, it’s the sand! And it’s everywhere, in all shapes and sizes, Waste bunkers, pot bunkers, fairway bunkers, greenside bunkers; play your round without encountering one and you deserve some sort of prize. Juliette Falls is a great test of golf with great people; every staff member I encountered was outgoing and eager to answer any questions.
For more information on joining or living at Juliette Falls, visit their website at www.JulietteFalls.com.