Highlands Ridge

Highlands Ridge, Haines City, FlHeading out to play a course that offers characteristics of varying types of layouts from around the country is exciting and intriguing to golfers. Golfers want a variety in golf holes, different challenges and unique settings. Today, the most well kown Florida courses have 18 holes that are memorable, impeccable course conditions and outstanding customer service, which all provide players with an overall satisfying golfing experience.

Leading the way for the newest must places to play in the Central Florida region is the spectacular Highlands Ridge North Course located south of Haines City off Highway 27 in Sebring. This layout encompasses a variety of golf holes that are typically not found on the low-lying flatlands of Florida. It’s a course that will provide a solid test for the most seasoned golfer, and one that will prove to be fun-filled for the intermediate and beginning players.

Designed by world-renowned architect David Harman, the Highlands Ridge North course encompasses the topography of Northern Michigan, the tall pine trees reminiscent of the Carolinas, and the pure Florida feel with wetlands, ponds and natural vegetation. This layout is such a diversion from the typical design in Central Florida that it has become a great stop for tourists, and locals have put it on their playing list.

Highlands Ridge North Course, Big Tree“David Harman did such a wonderful job with this golf course. He made every hole different and appealing, and on the way home from playing here golfers will remember each hole and how it is shaped,” Highlands Ridge Director of Golf Jimmy McMullen said. “One thing about this course is that there are no holes that are close to being the same. There are no forced carries, no lakes to hit over and you won’t be intimidated by out of bounds stakes either. This course is a very fair one to play.”

The Highlands Ridge North course is the second championship layout that has been added to the existing Highlands Ridge community. This course opened in November of 2002 and since then has been the “hidden gem” for layouts in the Central Florida region. The North course recently received the honor of Best Golf Course in Highlands County by the Highland Today and New Sun newspapers.

The community’s South course is an additional 18-hole championship layout that doesn’t play as long as the newer North course. However, it does call for straighter tee shots and with smaller greens will necessitate a solid iron game in order to score well. Steve Smyers, whose work includes Southern Dunes in Haines City, designed the South course at Highlands Ridge.

In addition to the great golf courses at Highlands Ridge, it’s the outstanding customer service that every player receives when they come out to play. From the time a player drives through the front gates they will be treated with “private club” demeanor by the entire staff at Highlands Ridge. Golfers will be taken care of by the bag attendants, starters, rangers and golf professional staff to ensure that each round at the facility will be a positive and memorable golfing experience.

Situated on top of a hill that overlooks the 18th green, the new plantation-style clubhouse at the North course serves as the focal point. The Eagles Crest Grille offers a perfect setting for players to unwind after a great round of golf. The restaurant provides a full lunch menu.

Highlands Ridge North Course, Club HouseHeading out to play the Highlands Ridge North course begins the real fun. This layout is a wonderful combination of golf holes that make golfers play strategically at times, boldly on others, and conservative more often than not. It’s a layout that is in impeccable condition from the tee boxes to the greens. It’s amazing what an architect can do with an old cow pasture and orange groves.

The well-maintained putting surfaces were built with a new strain of Bermuda TifEagle grass. This grass makes the greens smooth and allows the golf ball to roll true throughout any season. TifEagle is much easier to grow and maintain in colder and warmer temperatures.

Many of the holes are shaped with perimeter mounding, giving them great playability and character. No matter what tees you play, the sand bunkers seem to be perfectly positioned to present a great challenge from each tee box.

What makes this course so fun and exciting is that each hole delivers a new experience. Oftentimes, players can play a course and not remember the holes. The North course has 18 truly memorable golf holes.

The 11th and 12th holes seemingly were plucked from the Carolinas and transplanted in Central Florida. These two holes call for tee shots that play through strands of pine trees that guard the fairways. The setting on both holes may make players feel like they started play on a different golf course. The approach shots on these two holes are deceptive because of the trees that serve as a backdrop to the greens, and the false fronts created by swales in the front of the putting surfaces.

The ninth hole is a beautiful 438-yard, par-4 that plays slightly uphill for the tee shot and then calls for a downhill approach shot to the green. The rolling fairway and natural ridges of this hole give players the sense and feel of a classic midwestern layout.

Highlands Ridge North Course, ProshopThe magnificantly designed 18th is the ultimate in risk-reward opportunities. It’s a par-5 that plays 526 yards from the back tees and calls for a solid tee ball down the right center of the fairway. A small pond guards a slightly elevated green, which some players may be bold enough to go for in two shots. The fairway extends down to the left of the pond so players who are playing safe have ample room to set up the approach shot. A pin position to the front right of this green would make putting a true challenge.

To make Highlands Ridge North course complete, this facility has an outstanding driving range, short-game area, chipping green, large practice bunker and a 7,000-sq.-ft. putting green to help players warm up for a round or to keep their games in shape. No small amenity was neglected at the North course˜even the golf carts come equipped with full-color yardage books to help players navigate the layout.

Highlands Ridge North Course would be a great place to call home. There are currently homes and lots for sale and those who are interested in living in the community can contact either Sandy or Pinkie at (863) 471-1171.

For tee times or other information about the Highlands Ridge community and the two great golf courses please call (863) 453-9991.


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