Here on Florida's Treasure Coast we are always hunting for gold. Treasure if you will... A hidden gem perhaps... I think I may have just found one.
Heritage Ridge Golf Club in Hobe Sound recently invited me out to spend a morning chasing a little white golf ball across splendid green fairways and green. I love playing golf in new places, and since it had been several years since I last traveled these links, I thought it a good idea to accept.
To my surprise I found out that Heritage Ridge had recently undergone renovations to its greens. The club's owners and management tweaked the course a bit, adding some length and getting the greens up to today's standards.
At one time, the club was an equity-owned facility. With over 700 members, it was difficult at best for outsiders to find a tee time. As a result this sweet golf course went relatively unnoticed for many years.
About a decade ago, the club was purchased from the original owner, who had bought it back from the membership. It was decided that the club needed more outside play to afford renovations and upgrades. The idea worked at what you have now at Heritage Ridge is a course that has been polished with beautiful foliage, plush fairways and perhaps the best greens in the area. Now, he wants to share his gem with everyone.
When you look at the scorecard you may ruffle your nose and think that a par-70 layout with five sets of tees, measuring 6,014 yards from the tips could never test your game. You had better think again. The course is no easy walk-in-the-park round of golf.
The course starts you off gently with a straight-forward up-hill par 4. The second hole grabs your attention quite quickly. The 180-yard tee shot is down-hill to a narrow, yet wide green tucked behind water and a timber wall. You do not want to be short, but long isn't a picnic either as there are numerous mounds to give you a scary pitch back toward the water.
The front nine features a drivable, for some big hitters, par-4 and a trio of tricky par-5s. Heritage Ridge requires you to use your brain, not just your muscles.
The signature hole here is the 535-yard par-5 eighth, with water coming in to play on every shot, there is little room for error. Even if you manage to avoid the wet stuff, there is sand guarding the green and out-of-bounds just over the green.
My favorite hole on the course is number 10. After stopping to refuel with a cold drink and a snack, you climb atop an elevated tee and smoke your drive down the fairway. The approach shot must clear the water, avoid the bunkers and settle nicely on a very tricky green.
The back nine plays to a par of 34 with only one par 5, the 13th. It's a reachable par 5 playing to a length of only 510- yards from the tips. But don't let the length fool you, no one plunders birdies here without risk.
What you lose in length on the par-4s, you make up for on the par-3s. Four of the par-3 on the course are over 200- yards long from the back tee. I found myself hitting nearly every club in the bag, the mark of a truly good golf course.
When you play Heritage Ridge, make a point of bringing your best putting game along for the round. You will need it. The greens are quick and roll ever-so-smoothly. In addition to being fast, the greens are quite undulating. If you leave yourself a downhill or sidehill putt, you had best read it well and put a good stroke on the ball or you may find yourself three-putting as I did on a couple occasions.
A feature that one usually only finds at expensive, exclusive resorts and fancy country clubs is beautiful landscaping. Here it can be found in abundance. The club prides itself on keeping everything pleasing to the eye. With palm trees swaying in the breeze and flowering foliage it's easy to get distracted from your game and actually relax on the course. You just can't bring your lawn chair or sand shovel to look for more treasure.
For more information or to schedule a tee time, call the pro shop at (772) 546-2800 or visit www.heritageridgegolf.com.
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.