Country Club of Orange Park

The Country Club of Orange Park, Orange Park, FlThe Country Club of Orange Park is one of Northeast Florida’s hidden gems. Hidden behind busy Blanding Boulevard in Orange Park, CCOP offers a quiet and serene course filled with an abundance of beautiful trees, wildlife and water. Since owners Colin Armstrong and Ray Raulerson purchased the Club in 2002, they have poured millions of dollars into the renovation of the golf course and Club’s facilities.

The classic design of Bobby Miller has been updated with a new irrigation system and new cart paths, as well as lengthened by Charles Raulerson (Former PGA Tour Pro and General Manager at CCOP) three years ago. The back tees stretch back to a pro-style 7,048 yards, while leaving the other tees at anywhere from 5,100 to 6,550 offering an exciting challenge to players of all skill levels.

And while the Country Club of Orange Park is still semi-private, adding nearly 200 new members since the ownership change, the club is also open for outside play, making one of southwest Jacksonville’s exclusive tracks available for you to add to your “must-play” list.

In an area with so many new, “cookie-cutter” courses, the Country Club of Orange Park is delightfully “old-school”. Carved among the ancient oak hammocks adjacent to an Audubon Society Wildlife Preserve and Spencer Farms, this mature layout blends quite wonderfully with the natural habitat for deer, wild turkeys, osprey, a variety of eagles, red-tail hawks and other native waterfowl, otters and yes, an occasional alligator in the water that comes into play on 14 of the 18 holes.

The Country Club of Orange Park, Orange Park, FlIt is the kind of course that will throw different shot-making challenges at you every time you play it. It is also a rare course that allows you to play it to your strengths—as there are many different ways to attack each hole and pin location. Although it is a great driver’s course, you do not have to hit driver on every hole, and local knowledge suggests you shouldn’t even try on some of them. This is especially true on Head Professional Michael Wilson’s favorite, the tantalizing par-4 finishing hole with water running down the entire left side of the fairway before sweeping in front of the well-bunkered green.

Something else you’ll notice that differentiates the course from others in the area is that the Country Club of Orange Park actually has two cuts of rough outside its fairways, giving the course a more northern feel, even in the summer.

While the presence of water is something you’ll feel all the way around the course, and be forced to carry on a number of occasions, you might be surprised by the amount of sand that frames the holes and guards the greens, large and small. Unlike many other resort-type courses, this one challenges you from the first fairway, forcing you to carry wetlands in front of the green at #1, then demanding you keep the ball between lakes on both sides of the par-5 second hole that also features a narrow opening to the green. Even after conquering that challenging start, Head Pro Michael Wilson says your front nine score will be made, or broken, by how you respond to the next four holes. The third and fifth holes are par-3s with teeth, measuring over 200 yards from the tips. The fourth and sixth holes are long par-4s.

The toughest hole on the course, #4 demands an accurate tee shot to keep the ball between two hazards with a potentially long-iron second shot over more water to a well-protected green. The only thing that makes #6 a little easier is having water on only one side of the fairway and a more generous opening to its green. The seventh is a classic risk/reward par-5 that can be reached in two, or with a wedge third shot, if you can circumvent the large pond short and right of yet another well-bunkered green.

The Country Club of Orange Park, Orange Park, FlBy the time you make the turn, you’ve come to appreciate the immaculate grooming of the course. Superintendent Scott Price and his crew maintain the TifDwarf Bermuda greens over-seeded with Poatrivialis in the winter at standards that have them consistently true, and plenty fast! You’ll find the long, the short, and the curious on the back nine beginning with the longest par-3 on the course, the 222-yard 11th, followed by the shortest par-5 (yet handicapped as the 2nd toughest hole with water down the right side and a creek in front of the green).

You’ll also have to steer your drive at the par-4 13th around a large, and still growing oak tree in the center of the fairway. The 15th, 16th and 17th holes take you even deeper into the woods, where you won’t believe you’re only a 20 minute drive from downtown Jacksonville, before you emerge for the demanding finishing hole. With a rating of 73.3 and a slope of 137 from the tips, you’ll get as tough a test as a pro who played the PGA TOUR for three full seasons, won two Nationwide Tour events and several International tourneys can create. Yet from the shorter blue and white tees, the course plays to a fun, yet formidable 129 and 115 slope rating.

In keeping with the demands of a former TOUR pro Raulerson in the front office, the practice facilities are second to none. The short-game practice area has been rebuilt and a private practice area at the far end of the range is being created for the instructional programs offered by Raulerson, Wilson and PGA member pro Mark Daley, who brings the experience of seven years as a pro in Europe to his teachings. And you likely spotted the enormous practice putting green in front of the main clubhouse when you drove in the front entrance of the Club.

You’ll be reminded that the Country Club of Orange Park still has a proud, private tradition when you enter the gracious, southern-style Clubhouse. With wide porches outside, wonderful formal dining in the Pinehurst and Heritage rooms (their Sunday brunches are famous in these parts) and casual fare offered through the 19th hole and Trophy Room, there are any number of options not only for your foursome’s pre- or post-round meal, but for your wedding, organization’s meeting, business lunch or dinner parties for up to 300 guests. All are under the direction of Executive Chef Robert Gunning and Director of Catering Cheryl Bennett.

The Country Club of Orange Park, Orange Park, FlThe Country Club of Orange Park also invites your corporate outing or charitable tournament to sample its classic southern hospitality.

Raulerson’s team manages dozens of events annually, doing all the ancillary work from initial mailings to additional clinics to food and beverage planning, yet customizes each event to meet your goals.

Flexibility might be the operative word to describe the Country Club of Orange Park. Private enough to provide the exclusive services (a fabulous tennis facility, fitness center and recently rebuilt family swimming pool among them) that keep its growing membership content, while still offering the opportunity for a discerning public to sample the “good life” and great golf that the Country Club has to offer.

For more information on the flexible membership opportunities, tee times or your upcoming special event, contact the Country Club of Orange Park at (904) 276-7660 or visit their Web site at www.ccofop.com or reach Director of Golf, Michael Wilson directly at (904) 458-1005.

 

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