The Golf Club at Fleming Island in Orange Park: A little uncertainty with every shot

By Lisa Allen, Contributor

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- There is nothing predictable about The Golf Club at Fleming Island, located in the south Jacksonville suburb of Orange Park.

The Golf Club at Fleming Island - No. 1
The Golf Club at Fleming Island is a test from the first hole.
The Golf Club at Fleming Island - No. 1The Golf Club at Fleming Island - No. 16The Golf Club at Fleming Island - No. 4

The par 4s vary in length. Some holes are straight, while others are doglegs around water or sand or trees. Some fairways are insanely mounded and contoured, while others are pretty much flat.

But the aspects that should be consistent are: the quality of the greens and fairways, the friendliness of the staff and the fun of the Bobby Weed-designed course. You can take those attributes to the bank. That's what assistant golf professional Troy Albers said sets the course apart from the competition.

"When you come here, you know [what] you're going to get," Albers said. "The course is consistently in good shape."

He was undecided about what was the course's signature hole, narrowing it down to No. 9, a crescent-shaped dogleg left around water, or No. 13, a par-4 dogleg in the other direction up to an elevated green.

Conal Sexton said Fleming Island is one the best-kept secrets in regard to courses.

"The greens and fairways are meticulously maintained," he said. "It's an easy course to play for an average golfer. You don't have to be a PGA player."

He likes the 16th hole, a par 5 that bends right around a marsh and then joins up with some water on the left for the second half of the hole. It can be reached in two.

Nick Durbano said the conditions are always good at the golf course.

"It's a good course to play," he said. "You have to place your ball properly."

Weed sprinkles in a lot of risk-reward choices and keeps things a little uncertain with the number of mounds and drop-offs that pull good shots a little off course. The many elevated fairways and greens add to that unpredictability. Either your ball is on the level it's supposed to be or it isn't.

How much real estate you want to tackle is up to you. There are six tee possibilities, including a white/blue combo, ranging from 6,688 yards to 4,689.

With rare exception, the greens are all elevated, guarded by collection areas, bunkers and mounds, or in some cases bunkers sitting below collection areas to "collect" misdirected shots.

From the tee, the perils range from waste bunkers, mounds and a few marsh carries. The water on the course is lateral and often fronted by long waste bunkers.

The course, a par 71, ends with an unusual tempo of a par 3, par 5, par 3 and another par 5. The 10th hole is a par 3, too.

Holes of note at The Golf Club at Fleming Island include No. 4, which includes a strata of mounds, bunkers, fairway, waste bunker and water, if viewed from right to left. Beware of the solitary bunker on the right. It can claim a drive that runs through the offset fairway.

The 12th hole is one of the most unusual and the best chance at birdie. It's a short par 4, and bunkers and mounds bisect its fairway. Go right and you have a short chip to the green. Wander left and you'll have to shoot blind, the green hidden from view. The third option is flying a marsh to the green. Bunkers, however, stand ready to welcome attempts that are too short or too long.

No. 14 places waste bunkers inside the dogleg left with another on the entire right side of the sharply elevated green past an interrupted fairway, with more mounds and drop-offs.

The Golf Club at Fleming Island: The verdict

This is an exciting golf course with a lot of variety. The mounds and contours make each shot a bit of a thrill -- you just don't know where your ball is going to end up. You can tell a lot of thought went into every hole, from the par 3s to the par 5s, to make them visually diverse and dynamic. This course is never boring, no matter how many times you play it.

The staff is very attentive, the clubhouse is warm and inviting and the long porch overlooks the par-3 10th hole. You'll wonder why you waited so long to try out The Golf Club at Fleming Island.

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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