The Eagles Golf Club in Odessa Florida is located about 20 minutes north of the Tampa International airport and is one of the best public access golf courses in the area. The Eagles Golf Club features two 18-hole championship golf courses, both located with the gated Eagles master-planned community. The community was growing by leaps and bounds when I lived there in 2001 and to this day, new homes are still going up.
Over the years these two courses have received numerous accolades including 3 1/2 stars by Golf Digest Places to Play. Back in 2007 when the Tampa Bay Times put together a collection of the Best 18 Holes in Tampa Bay, two of the Eagle’s 36 holes were selected.
Between the two courses, there are over 30 ponds, lakes, and canals as well as an abundance of majestic oaks all creating two golf courses that are as much fun to look at as they are to play. The Eagles Golf Club has long been recognized for its well-manicured playing conditions on both courses.
The Lakes Course was designed first and opened for play in 1970. The Forest Course followed 25 years later in 1995. The Lakes Course dates back to 1970 and plays 7,005 yards from the Black Tees. I found that the White Tees (6,188/69.8/129) provided an ample challenge. With five sets of tees, there is a suitable distance for any level of golfer; just be sure to choose the one that best fits your game. Of the two courses, The Lakes plays more like what you’d expect from a Florida course.
As you can imagine with any course that is over 50 years old, The Lakes Course features massive mature oak trees that can come into play at various times as you make your way around the layout. Although there are only 39 bunkers, they seem to be strategically placed. As the name implies, water comes into play all but one hole with water framing the boundary on several fairways.
On the Lakes course, the stretch from Number 13 to 15 can make or break a good round. Thirteen is a 350-yard picturesque par 4 that requires a tee shot over water that travels not much further than the 150-yard marker, Anything short, too far left, or too far right can leave an approach shot that is blocked out by trees. Success off the tee will leave an open approach shot into a large, elevated green with no bunkers around it.
Handicapped as the most difficult hole on the inward nine, Number 14 is a long par 4 that plays 436 yards from the Blue Tees. It’s a straight, narrow hole with trees and out of bounds on either side. Even your best drive will leave a long approach shot into a green that slopes left to right and is protected by sand on the right. Make a par and consider this hole a success!
The back nine’s toughest hole is followed by the second toughest. The 377-yard par 4 15th is a dogleg left that is best played with a draw off the tee. Hit it through the fairway and you may well be wet. Once again, a good drive will leave a medium-length approach shot into another large green.
Number 18 is a par 5 that plays 496 yards. A slight draw off the tee that avoids the fairway bunker on the left. Because of the pond that sits about 150 yards out from the green, this is a 3-shot hole for most players. You’ll need to decide to either layup or go over the pond with your second shot. Your approach shot is to a slightly elevated green protected on either side by sand. This is one of the area’s best finishing holes.
The Forest Course was built in 1995 with NBC Golf commentator Gary Koch designing the front none and legendary Florida golf course architect Ron Garl designing the inward nine. My guess is that since it opened, the nines have been switched. That’s the only way to explain why the Ron Garl signature island green is on Number 6. The Forest underwent a renovation in 2012 and the Champion Dwarf Bermuda greens ad 419 Bermuda fairways are as good as any in the area. It plays 6,604 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 73.4 and a slope of 134. At 6,159 yards, the Blue Tees (70.2/129) will give most golfers all they can handle and still let them leave with a little dignity intact.
The two courses are completely different. While the Lakes Course plays over 400 yards longer, Forest is more of a shotmaker’s course, with wooded fairways and smaller greens. Unlike the Lakes, it requires accuracy and control off the tee to properly navigate the contoured fairways and seemingly overprotected greens. Many of the green fronts are open and give way to a bump-and-run shot when approaches are hit short. Although its name implies woods and trees, water figures into play on at least 14 holes.
The Forest Course has several interesting holes starting with the risk/reward 3rd hole. Played as a two-shot par 4, this 283-yard par 4 requires a hybrid or long-iron over water off the tee and left of the fairway bunker to set up a short approach shot into a green surrounded by bunkers. Should you decide to go for the green off the tee, it requires about a 220 yard carry over the water. You must hit it high enough to carry the bunkers in front short and right yet lands softly and stops before going in the bunkers behind. Good scores can be had here as can bad ones!
The signature hole out here is the island green on the par 3 6th hole. The green on this 139-yard par 3 is surrounded by water on 3 sides, providing a small bailout area for the faint of heart. Check the wind and the yardage, choose the right club, and play to the center of the green. That’s all it takes.
Number 10 is another risk/reward hole. It’s a 448-yard par 5 with a 90-degree dogleg. Playing your tee shot up the right side at the fairway bunkers with a slight draw will allow you to go for the green in two or layup short of the fairway bunkers on the right. Whatever you decide keep your approach shot right as a small pond and bunker guard the left side.
Inside the clubhouse, the food is fantastic. The Eagles Golf Club makes one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had on or off a golf course. Start with your choice of bread, a bagel, or an English muffin and add either one or two eggs, cooked enough that they won’t be messy. Throw in your choice of bacon, ham, or sausage and cheese, and you’ve got a sandwich that’s a meal. After your round, you can’t go wrong with some of the best chicken wings in the area, available in a variety of sauces. Their burgers are delicious and the homemade meatball sandwich covered with marinara sauce and provolone cheese has to be tried by at least one person in the foursome. The Eagles Golf Club also has a full liquor bar and several domestic and craft beers on tap.
The clubhouse at the Eagles is also a great place for a wedding or other special event. Their talented and professional staff can help with everything from a small intimate affair to a banquet for 200 guests. Menu planning is one of their specialties.
The Eagles Golf Club offers several membership programs including their Golden Eagle Golf Membership. This includes unlimited golf with the payment of a member cart fee year-round, limited golf instruction, and complimentary range balls just to name a few. You can get the complete rundown of what’s included on their website under the Membership tab. For more information or to book your next round, give them a call at (813) 920-6681 or visit them online at www.eaglesgolf.com.