VIERA, Florida – Now be honest, has anyone outside of the Sunshine State ever heard of Viera, Florida?
Pretty sure most haven’t, but here we are today traveling to Central Florida’s East Coast, where we find Duran Golf Club, a golf destination that provided me with a memorable and enjoyable visit.
A call from Bill Harley, PGA Teaching Professional, inviting me to join him in a round of golf at Duran Golf Club in Viera was an invite I couldn’t refuse. He knows that I enjoy playing Links style courses and assured me that this course would be a chance to play on one of the more popular Links courses in Florida.
Arriving at Doran Golf Club parking lot, there are signs directing you to the Golf Academy, Driving Range, Putting Green, Par 3 Lighted Walking Course, Bag Drop and Pro Shop. The staff at the bag drop will meet you with a smile and make you feel like a long-time member. A visit to the Pro Shop was met with a warm Southern greeting and a chance to browse a well-stocked inventory of golfer’s equipment and clothing.
After hitting a small bucket of balls on the range, getting a quick lesson on the putting green, and checking in with the starter, it was time to take my first look at architect Lewis “Chip” Powell’s 18-hole Par 72 “Links Characteristics” design golf course. Duran opened in the summer of 2005 and was built on a cattle ranch and sod farm, with only “one tree” standing on the property. Eventually, several thousand native palms, oaks and cypresses were planted to give definition to the course, while giving player’s the opportunity to “swing freely” off the tee.
There are five sets of tees at Duran. The Onyx is the longest stretching out to 7,051 yards with a 130 slope. The other four: Gold 6,687 yards/125 slope, Royal 6,198 yards/120 slope, Ivory 5,708 yards/116 slope, Ruby 5,184 yards/125 slope. Proper tee selection suited to your individual game is an important ingredient to an enjoyable day of golf on all courses, but especially here. The spacious driving areas tempt golfers to hit drives away from hazards, which leave a much longer second shot. You play this course once to understand that risk and reward will play a major role in your final 18-hole score.
The first two holes allowed me to “swing away” without fear of hazards or out of bounds. The fairways were somewhat undulated, fair and forgiving and in good condition. Navigating around lots of strategically placed bunkers will add excitement to your day. The sand mixture was soft, which causes you to sink into it as you prepare for your shot. This type of quality sand is seldom found on public courses, but a staple signature of private clubs.
The common characteristics of a “Links Style” course is that it is near or next to large bodies of water with the expectation that weather conditions will be a factor. A change in wind direction and rain can have a dramatic affect on playing conditions. Trees are sparse or non-existent. Duran Golf Club features “Links Characteristics.”
Duran Golf Club is unique. It has different personalities depending on your skill level and choice of tees. Golfing from the Onyx tees will give a golfer an incredible look at a long and challenging course that will require the use of every club in your bag. Hazards that are not part of a shorter tee player’s day will certainly be a part of your thought process on a majority of tee shots. Moving up to the middle tee boxes should not change your course management strategy, it only changes the distance for your approach shots to the green.
Duran Golf Club offers a wonderful opportunity to work with your fairway woods and short irons. Drives on most of the par 4’s left me with a 3-wood shot to the green. Depending on the ball strike and direction, it resulted in either a short iron or chip shot. The greens were somewhat slower than I expected, which is sometimes the case when the practice green is “fast.” The Par 3’s offered receptive greens and the Par 5’s will provide a nice workout for your fairway woods and long Irons.
After walking off the 18th green at Duran Golf Club, I can say my day was enjoyable! And, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said in 1984 sci-fi thriller movie – The Terminator– “I’ll Be Back.”