By Bill Sangster

You’ve heard the expression “I play golf only on days that end in ‘y’” well that appropriately applies to me, since today’s golf trip is different than all my other golf course visits over the past six months.

We are moving on up on this trip to play a well-known private course with a solid reputation – The Country Club of Ocala.

The first order of business was to pass through a well-fortified gated entrance that had both a green and red signal light and a guard waiting at the gate to question my reason for being there. After a brief and cordial exchange and the requisite “Have a nice day,” I arrived at the impressive clubhouse at The Country Club Ocala, checked in at the pro shop, picked up my cart and was introduced to my three playing partners. With no time to warm up, I immediately headed to the first tee.

This 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course has hosted dozens of prestigious amateur events including: Florida State Golf Association championships, USGA qualifiers, North Florida PGA Section tournaments and much more.

The course design features five sets of tees, and the scorecard offers perfect yardage opportunities for professionals, low handicap and high handicap amateurs alike. The 6,920-yard par 72 course was designed in 1994 by Steve Nugent, and has been twice votedthe area’s best golf course by Ocala Magazine.

The opening six holes are not for the faint of heart. You best hit shots straight or bring extra balls, since it can get tight around the edges. From tee to green the course will be challenging, and good course management will deliver a respectable score.

What can you expect? This golf course offers many slight-to-severe doglegs and tall trees encroaching on almost every fairway. The sloped fairways and changing elevations provide you challenge – there’s that word again.

The straight hitter or conservative player should be able to manage a few pars, lots of bogeys and avoid the dreaded double-bogeys. The longer hitter or more daring player will enjoy the risk-rewards of navigating the course’s interesting array of bunkers, rough, creeks and other obstacles. More