Not all municipal courses are created equal. Some cities and counties have the ability to dedicate more funds to keeping their courses in pristine condition. Others do not have the funds available either from taxes or from having enough traffic to pay for such niceties.
Cocoa Beach Golf Course falls in the category of the former. Located on a beautiful piece of prime riverside real estate on the western end of Minuteman Causeway, the course is part of the city's recreational complex.
The course features three nines: River Course, Dolphin Course and Lake Course. Having three nine-hole courses at their disposal, golfers enjoy a variety every time they play here.
One of my favorite features at Cocoa Beach GC is that it's easy to walk and walking is encouraged. Greens and tees are close to one another and the course flows in a beautiful park setting.
Surrounded by the Banana River Lagoon and featuring 17 lakes, the course is home to an abundance of waterfowl and other birds. In a long-standing golf tradition each hole has a name. Here each is named after one of the predominant bird species found on the course.
My late friend, Charles Ankrom, designed the course, which opened in 1968. The course sees about 100,000 rounds annually and a renovation in 2009 gave it some of the best Paspalum greens in the county.
The most difficult 18 comes when you pair the Lake and River courses. This configuration plays to a course rating nearly two shots higher than the other two.
The Lake Course has four sets of tees to choose from and plays anywhere from 2,688 to 3,372 yards. This course starts out with the most difficult hole of this nine, a long par-4 with lots of room off the tee. The difficulty here comes on the second shot as the deep green could mean as much as a three clubs depending on where the pin is located.
Your first par-3 comes at the third hole and is also your first introduction to the lakes that this nine meanders around. The tee shot here requires plenty of club as you must carry water if you plan to reach the green.
Both par-5s on this nine are reachable in two if you hit the ball long enough. If not, and you play smartly, you will still find a reasonable chance for a birdie. The eighth is a short par-4 with a tee shot fraught with water and bunkers that tempt long hitters and rewards anyone with accuracy in their game.
The River Course is aptly named as it runs right along the eastern shore of the Banana River Lagoon. This nine, with four sets of tees, plays from 2,606 to 3,342 yards and begins with a pleasant par-4. From there it gets difficult with a long par-3, a reachable par-5 and a pair of long par-4s.
Depending on the wind direction and strength this nine can be very benign or absolutely devilish.
When you get to the tee on the par-4 fifth hole stop for a moment to take in the scenery. Across the river lies Merritt Island, while to the south is Patrick Air Force Base. On a clear day, you can see the vertical assembly building at Kennedy Space Center to the north.
The seventh hole was voted as one of Brevard County's best par-3s. It's easy to see why, as the green is well guarded with bunkers and a lake. Miss the green and you face a tough chip onto a green that slopes toward the water.
At the par-5 eighth hole, golfers face a decision off the tee. If it's downwind, they can challenge the hole and its pair of lakes or play smartly, avoiding the trouble and still have a chance for birdie or an easy par.
The Dolphin Course is the shortest of the three nines, playing between 2,297 and 3,021 yards from four sets of tees. There are three par-3s, three par-4s and three par-5s on this track.
Your round on this nine should get off to a good beginning, as you start with the shortest par-5 on the property. The green, with its large ridge running front to back, provides this hole's defense.
The best hole on this nine is probably the par-4 sixth. This dogleg right plays over 400 yards from the back tees. While the shortest route may be down the right side, an approach from that side of the fairway or rough leaves you with a shot over water with trees blocking your view of the target.
To schedule your round at Cocoa Beach Golf Club (www.golfcocoabeach.com) call the pro shop at (321) 868-3361 or visit www.golfcocoabeach.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.