If there is one thing I despise, it's a golf course over-run with homes. When it comes to golf courses and the homes and development that go along with many new courses, the wounds are usually permanent scars.
When Lost Lake Golf Club opened in 1993, it was cut through the pristine wetlands in Hobe Sound. The Jim and Tom Fazio-designed course featured tons of nature. No two holes ran side-by-side, making each stand apart. One of the problems with today's new courses is that they are an amenity for a developer, meaning that along the fairways and greens come roads and homes.
I first played Lost Lake in 1995 and fell in love with the course. Over the years, as the development matured, homes and roads went up where many trees once stood. As the homes went up, the fairways felt narrower. The greens lost some of the framing they had to aid your approach shots. I fell out of love with the course.
A few weeks ago, I traveled back to Lost Lake to see how time had treated her. Many of the scars I remembered from my last time out have disappeared. As the course has matured, the trees and landscaping that were put up when the homes were completed have grown in and taken hold. The holes where I remember feeling like I was playing from someone's back yard no longer feel that way. I enjoyed playing the course once again.
Lost Lake Golf Club is a semi-private club with five sets of tees to challenge golfers of any ability. From the back tees the course measures a shortish 6,850 yards. Not long by today's standards, but you need to remember this is a Fazio masterpiece that carries a slope rating of 135. The landing areas are tight and there are several forced carries with water coming into play on 13 holes. You simply cannot miss fairways if you hope to conquer this layout. The greens are filled with bumps and hills forcing you to be on your game with the flat stick as well. The Tournament tees play to 6,481 yards, followed by the Club, Senior and Forward tees which play to 6045, 5574 and 5106 yards respectively.
One thing I always like to see on a course is a drivable par-4 and a reachable par-5. Well, reachable for golfers of most abilities, that is. The fourth hole measures 340 from the back tees, and considerably less as you move forward. It practically begs you to drive the green. Temptation does come with a price, should you miss right where water runs the length of the hole.
The seventh hole is a very reachable par-5, playing a mere 485 yards from the tips. After a solid drive, golfers have to ignore the beautiful rock waterfall short and left of the elevated green and thread their approach between that and a large oak behind and right if they hope to make an easy birdie or perhaps an eagle. The front-nine closes with one of the best par-4s on the course. The 413-yard hole demands an exacting tee shot. From there, it's an approach to a green framed by a large hill with the beautiful clubhouse sitting behind.
The back-nine begins with a twisty par-5. To reach the 10th hole in two, golfers must hit a long drive and then dare to carry a large lake to a small, narrow green perched atop a sizable hill. Even laying up takes serious concentration, as you must aim well away from the green and hit a precise shot to a narrowing fairway.
Lost Lake's closing holes are some of the best in the area. The par-3 16th looks easy from the tee, but miss this small green and you will pay dearly. Seventeen isn't long, but its green is deep and severely sloped. Golfers need to make sure they hit their approach shots to the proper level or risk three-putting.
At 441 yards from the tips, the 18th is a monster. Wayward drives wind up in the marshlands or deep rough. Just like the ninth hole, number eighteen has its green tucked into a hillside with several bunkers protecting it. After putting out, it's a short walk to a well-deserved beverage at the clubhouse.
I had a great time playing Lost Lake for the first time in many years. I'm pleased to see that the course has matured nicely. The staff is as friendly as ever, and the conditioning of the course was superb.
If you'd like to take on one of the Fazios' better works, call the Lost Lake Golf Club pro shop at (772) 220-6666 or visit www.lostlakegolfclub.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.