Stoneybrook West – An Arthur Hills Challenge

Stoneybrook West Golf Club is a challenging 18-hole championship golf course in a lovely  gated residential community in Winter Garden, designed by Arthur Hills.  It plays 7,101 yards from the championship tees for a par of 72. The course opened in 2000 to rave reviews and has rating of  74.8 and carries a slope rating of 135. There are four sets of tees which makes it both playable and challenging for golfers of varying abilities. Stoneybrook includes one of the first USGA approved tees for intermediate boys and girls at a total 3256 yards. Celebration Golf Management manages Stoneybrook West.

It is easy to find, just off of Highway 429 which can be accessed from the Florida Turnpike or Interstate 4. When you get off the exit you are on the road to the Stoneybrook community and you can see the course. Upon arrival at the bag drop the player assistant will take care of your golf bags and direct you to the well  stocked pro shop. After a quick check in you are ready  to go.

Water, although lovely to view. plays a prominent role in the design of the course as it usually does in Florida, coming into play alongside fairways and greens on at least 12 holes –and  more if you spray it. There are more than fifty bunkers that come into play: many protecting mildly undulating green complexes and very rolling fairways. Greenside collection areas and grassy swales make up and down from errant approach shots a challenge.

A lot of the course’s popularity is its mostly large greens which are seeded with TifEagle Bermuda grass, making for a very true roll. Green speeds at Stoneybrook West have been known to register 12 on the Stimpmeter; however they are normally maintained at a modest, yet playable, 9. No matter what the speed, the greens roll excellent and true.

The practice facility is complete with a full size aqua driving range, practice greens and bunkers. The Golf Academy at Stoneybrook West offers individual and group lessons as well as junior clinics and summer camps. The beautiful clubhouse includes the delicious Stoneybrook Grille as well as banquet facilities that can seat up to 200 people, making it an ideal spot for that special occasion, golf tournament or conference. There is a  full bar, an excellent menu and great service in the Grill.

I don’t think there is such a thing as an easy Arthur Hills course and Stoneybrook West is no exception. If the wind is blowing, this course can be downright brutal.   Approach shots through the air and over water on some holes are a necessity. Two Arthur Hills’ trademarks – greenside bunkering and contoured fairways – are evident throughout the course. Although I’m sure a tremendous amount of earth was moved, the course does not seem “manufactured” or unnatural. Bunkers are always in play around the greens; trying to avoid them and at the same time hit it close to the pin, can either be heroic or tragic.

There are a few hidden greens that you can not see from the tees. Keep it in the fairway and your next look will have a green in it. On many approaches you can’t see the entire green which can pose a problem depending on pin placement. . A few of the greens actually run off to the back which, when you know this, can weigh heavily in club selection. Stoneybrook West challenges you where others don’t. If you do not have the mental toughness needed to play here, free wireless internet is available on the course.

For more information or to book a tee time, you can visit them online at http://www.golfsbw.com. Be sure to check out their online specials section. Or, if you prefer, give them a call at (407) 877-8533. You don’t want to miss this course.

Dave Daubert

Lehigh University graduate, Procter & Gamble retired. Previously a Managing Editor and Feature Writer for a regional golf monthly magazine for 11 years. Married to wife Carol and residing in Solivita, an active adult community in Central Florida

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