Eagle Landing golf course at Oakleaf Plantation is relatively new, but timeless

By Lisa Allen, Contributor

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Eagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation is relatively new, having opened in 2006.

18 Holes | Semi-Private | Par: 72 | 7037 yards
Eagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation
A small lake serves as sides to Nos. 9 and 18 at Eagle Landing.
Eagle Landing at Oakleaf PlantationEagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation - clubhouseEagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation - No. 6

The Clyde Johnston-designed golf course, however, is timeless.

Thomas Bozzuto, first assistant at Eagle Landing, said the course's openness is appealing, especially among residential courses.

"In other places, it seems if you're 5 feet off the course, you're in someone's yard," Bozzuto said.

That's not the case at Eagle Landing.

"It's very forgiving, with big fairways and greens," Bozzuto said.

The golf course starts gently, with a wide par 4 up to an elevated green with two bunkers standing sentry at the front of the green.

From there, it's on to a par 3 that sets the tone for others on the course -- a massive elevated green with an assortment of bunkers around it. In this case, it has quadraphonic bunkers for the short and long hitters. Also, a sharp rise in front of the green will reject any shot not equipped with afterburners.

Johnston went big with the bunkers, but he scooted them just a hair out of the way. They're there and they could cause problems, but only if you're really astray. When you do land in them, it's an easy extraction, thanks to the type of sand. It really feels like a day at the beach.

The wind, a key component of the course, changes every day.

Eagle Landing's sixth hole, a par 3, has all its hazards on the right. It's not surprising the wind blows left to right there. It ranges from 135 to 195 yards, depending on which of five tees you use, so Johnston put water front right, too. It's a perilous hole.

The seventh hole is a crescent around water, requiring you to put your drive just so to balance it between the water short and sand at the far corner. The next challenge is getting past the sentries of bunkers about 50 to 70 yards out and onto the green, also with a pair of bunkers.

On No. 8, avoid the right or you'll be in jail amid the pines. The ninth hole bends right around a small lake in front of the clubhouse. It mirrors No. 18, which bends left around the other side of the lake.

Eagle Landing's last four holes will stay with you.

The 15th pinches the landing area between two bunkers. The 16th is a long par 3 that requires you to ignore a string of bunkers in front. The 17th, a par 5 dogleg right, is the course's signature hole with its Oakmont-like church pew bunkers on the inside corner. The 18th curls left back to the clubhouse to a green beset with huge bunkers left and right.

Ryan Curry loves the course because "it's beautiful and the wind changes all of the time."

Gabriel Barnes said Eagle Landing is challenging because you don't know if
it's going to be formidable that day.

"It's an easy course if the wind isn't blowing," said Barnes, who likes No. 16 because it's one of the most challenging par 3s -- the wind can make the 220-yard hole play like it's 245 -- and because he's scored an ace on it.

"It's set up for weekend players and it's set up for the pros," Barnes said.

Justin Swearengin likes Eagle Landing's links style.

Pin placement can alter the course, too. There are plenty of chances to tuck the pin behind a bunker.

The trio likes the lushness of the course and its pristine conditions year-round.

Charles Wesley has made Eagle Landing his home, spending nearly every day here practicing, playing or enjoying a meal in the clubhouse.

"It's a fair course," Wesley said. "Even if you're not hitting a straight shot, you're not going to get into too much trouble. You can get out of the woods.

"I talk to a lot of senior players and they enjoy playing here because they don't lose their golf balls. It's a good course to play for your average golfer."

Eagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation: The verdict

Eagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation is a pristine course with a wide variety of holes that give you an opportunity to use every club in your bag. Johnston did a good job of making the course increasingly challenging without overdoing it. You won't forget the last few holes, and you won't forget how pampered you felt. The service is great, with attentive staff inside and out and an impressive practice area. Keep this one on your list.

Lisa AllenLisa Allen, Contributor

Lisa Allen is a golf, travel and business writer based in Beaufort, S.C. She has edited newspapers, magazines and books in Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @LAllenSC.

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