Since I was unable to make it to Augusta National this year to kick off my spring and the start of this year's majors in golf, I decided a round at The Majors Golf Club in Palm Bay may just do the trick.
Judging from the reviews of locals, the course is well-liked and many play it several times each month. I last played here more than seven years ago. I remember that I really liked the course and had meant to get back to tee it up again much sooner than this.
Like many courses, the dry conditions we have experienced over the past few years have taken a bit of a toll on The Majors. Water levels in the lakes and ponds are well below normal and while the greens and tees are lush, some of the rough and fairways have suffered.
The par-72 course features five sets of tees allowing everyone to find their comfort zone. The very back set plays to just under 7,000 yards. This is much shorter in comparison to when I played here last and the course could be stretched out to a daunting 7,300 yards for a true "major-like" feel. More on the reasons behind this later.
The course is built on a tract of beautiful land filled with lakes, wetlands and preservation areas. With rolling terrain, the course has a more Carolina than Florida feel to it.
At The Majors Golf Club, major champions of the game are celebrated with a commemorative plaque on each tee paying tribute to one of golf's best. In the dining room there is a truly unique piece of memorabilia. As you look around the room you will find pictures complete with the authentic signature of every Masters champion to date.
Located just minutes west of I-95, The Majors is not only convenient, but offers a huge range and practice putting green and a 3-hole "Short Course" to tempt you to drop in as well.
The course opened in 1999 and quickly received rave reviews. Palmer's design team blended the traditional styles of Ross and Mackenzie with a modern flair to provide the golfer with a tract that was not only unique and challenging, but memorable at every tee and green.
Now for the reason that the course has lost a chunk of its length and, in my opinion, some of its endearing traits.
Some years ago the developer decided that building a couple of streets with 90+ homes where the stretch of holes 12-14 sat would be better than keeping the original layout intact. This meant the extinction of one of my favorite holes on the back side, the 13th.
One of Palmer's design traits is a short, drivable par-4 fraught with danger. This is what we used to have at the 13th. Instead of a relatively straight hole, fraught with bunkers and pines, measuring a mere 322 yards from the very back tees, we now have a rather plain hole with townhomes down the right side. You can no longer hitch up your pants in true Arnie-like fashion and test your bravado and skill.
The 12th hole was originally a dog-leg left par 4. Now the green sits oddly to the right just over a canal with a large waste area that serves double-duty as a cart path, guarding the approach. The hole just feels wrong.
The par-3s are here are some of the best I have played. They vary greatly in length and in how the wind affects shot selection. On the shortest, I hit a 7-iron and on the longest I was faced with a 5-wood into the wind.
The finishing holes are, as expected, difficult yet rewarding. The 15th is a mid-length par-3 with an island green. Sixteen is my favorite hole on the golf course. A good tee shot leaves one with a downhill approach to a green perfectly framed by tall pines and a small hill and protected by water left and bunkers right.
The 17th is a par-5 reachable in two for the longer hitters, but they must avoid a large waste area near the green. The finishing hole is one of the toughest par-4s you will play. The shortest route to the green involves hitting a tee shot that leaves you facing a second over a large marsh to a very large green. Pars on any of the closing holes could win you a few dollars for a stop at the 19th hole.
With spring here, rates at The Majors Golf Club are all south of $30. For more information check out the website at www.majorsgolfclub.com, or call (321) 952-8617.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.