There was a time, many years ago when I lived in Palm Bay, that I played Melbourne Municipal Golf Course about once or twice a month. At least that's what it was called back then. Now it is Crane Creek Reserve Golf Club, and I happen to like the name change.
Liking the name is one thing. Liking the course is another. Fortunately, just a few things have changed at Crane Creek Reserve and the course is pretty much as I remember it... Which means I'm still fond of it. I played a lot of rounds here with my father and his friends.
I didn't remember the course being short back in the day. However, at just under 5,900 yards from the back tees, some holes feel short when attacked with today's equipment.
Originally opened back in 1926, the course features three sets of tees and plays to a par of 71. The course has few forced carries and has a course rating of 66.7 and a slope of 113.
Years ago the hurricanes that blew through wreaked havoc on the course. Many trees were destroyed along with the cart storage facility. The course went from having mature, beautiful trees to having young saplings that will take many years to become even close to what they replaced.
There are fewer than 30 bunkers on the course. Two holes have none, and most greens are guarded by only one bunker. The small trees and lack of bunkers makes this course a lot of fun for beginners, juniors, seniors and anyone looking for confidence in their game, It's an easy and enjoyable course to walk with tees being just a few steps away from the previous green.
Water comes into play on a few holes, but you are only forced to carry your approach over water four times during your round. One of the water hazards is a canal that cuts through the front nine, coming into play on holes four, five, and nine.
In fact, the canal challenges you on the short par-5 fourth, making you either lay up short, or gamble on carrying the ball to the green on your second shot. At the ninth, a long drive could find the canal, but the closer you dare to get, the easier it is to reach the green in two on this par-5.
My favorite hole on the course is the 368-yard, par-4 eighth. The longer you hit your drive, the more the fairway pinches down. There is water left, trees and out-of-bounds right, and a fairway bunker that sits about 240 yards from the back tee. The green, like nearly all of them at Crane Creek, is a small target to hit.
To start the back nine, you tee off right up against New Haven Avenue. The 10th hole may be the shortest par-4 on the course, but it is protected by four bunkers, most on any hole on the property. A drive that goes too far left will likely be out-of-bounds on the practice range. Play too far to the right and you may find water.
Playing to just under 400 yards, with a fairway flanked on both sides by water and less than 30 yards wide, the 11th may be the most difficult hole on the course.
The closing two holes are a lot of fun and offer risk/reward for the golfer trailing in a match. The par-5 17th measures just 474 yards from the back tee. With a wide fairway, you are encouraged to "let it all out" on your drive. If you his a good drive, you should be able to go for the green in two. You will, however, have to carry a pond in front and avoid the pond left and long to have an eagle opportunity.
The 18th is a short par-4 that requires accuracy off the tee to avoid water, a bunker and a stand of trees. If you pull off a good drive, you will have nothing more than a wedge or short iron approach and a good chance of birdie or par to end your day.
After your round there is a snack bar to celebrate in as well as a pro shop and locker rooms to freshen up before heading home.
Rates are very competitive and you can make tee times over the phone or online. For more information, visit the website at www.cranecreekgolf.net or call (321) 674-5716.
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.