From the Panhandle to Key West, the State of Florida is rife with golf courses; there are over 1,250 across the State. That makes for a lot of competition when it comes to vying for your greens fees and membership dollars. And through it all, Juliette Falls in Dunnellon, FL continually rises to the top; year after year they are voted one of the best courses you can play in Florida by highly respected national golf publications.
The terrain in this part of Florida is very different from the rest of the state; you’ll find natural rolling hills and something called elevation change – albeit not much. As you make your way around the course, you’ll be treated to wonderful vistas of lush tropical foliage and beautifully landscaped golf holes that include cascading waterfalls on two of the course’s par threes.
Mature pines, flowering magnolias, century-old live oaks, and seasonal annuals adorn the property, creating a serene and inviting environment. The centerpiece of the community is the 7,300-yard John Sanford golf course which is sculpted from the rolling terrain and features manicured conditions from tee to green. Sand comes into play in a variety of forms, from expansive waste bunkers to conventional greenside and fairway traps. You’ll need to deal with water on 7 holes; more if you spray it off the tee. The greens are in great shape and are quick; putts tend to run out and have some extra roll.
Juliette Falls offers 5 sets of tees with a distance that is suitable for every level of golfer. From the back tees, the course plays 7,236 yards with a course rating of 75.4 and a slope of 143. Men can choose between 6,729 yards (139/72.6) and 6269 yards (130/70.4). Seniors will enjoy Juliette Falls from 5,747 yards (124/67.8) while ladies and juniors will be challenged at 5071 yards (123/69.3). Pick the tees that best suit your game and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
I always like it when a golf course thinks enough of each hole to give it a name. The names the designer comes up with usually deviate greatly from what I would choose, and for a variety of reasons. For example, Number 5 is a 378-yard par 4 called “Dealer’s Choice” because of the tree that splits the fairway in half and makes you choose which way you want to go. Land your drive behind the tree and you’ll need to find a creative way to make par. I’d name it “Tree in the Middle” or “Get Me an Axe!”
Waterfalls come into view on two of the par 3s, Number 7 and Number 13. Number 7, “Oasis” is a very pretty hole water with a couple of well-placed bunkers left of the green and water right of the green, which also wraps in behind it. The waterfall behind the green adds a nice touch. “Oasis” is nice, but I like Shangri-La!
If I had to pick a favorite hole, it would be Number 13, Juliette Falls’ signature hole, aptly dubbed. “The Falls.” At only 147 yards, it’s the shortest hole on the course. Water guards the left side of the green making left pin placements tricky because you’ll have to fly your tee shot over the edge of the water and on to the green if you want to get it close. The green is long, narrow and well undulated. No matter how good – or bad – you do on this hole, one look at the waterfall behind it and you’ll forget all about your score. We’ll leave this name alone!
I spoke with several members during my round and asked them which hole they consider their favorite. The majority of them agreed on Number 11, “Green View.” It’s the shortest par 5 on the course and features large waste bunkers down the left side, a couple of strategically placed bunkers on the right and a well-protected green complex. There’s a plaque in the middle of the fairway about 235 yards out where Ian Baker-Finch made a double-eagle on November 10th, 2007! If you’ve got time, drop a ball and have a go at it; you never know! I’d call this hole “A Day at the Beach.”
Number 15 is a short par 4 – 322 yards – that plays uphill all the way. It’s a pretty golf hole with a large waste bunker all the way down the left side. Another bunker comes into play on the right side from about 100 yards in. This creates a narrow corridor of fairway heading into the green. There are more bunkers behind the green as well as a deep one front left. The green slopes back to front and can be extremely challenging, especially if you’re above the hole. Let’s call her “Sandy!”
In addition to being a great place to play, Juliette Falls is also a great place to practice. The state-of-the-art turf range has several target greens and bunkers and creates the feeling of actually playing on the course. The chipping area, practice bunker, and huge putting green let you work on shots on and around the green. Practice makes perfect and at Juliette Falls you can work on your game from dawn to dusk.
Big Dog’s Bar inside the clubhouse is a great place to unwind after your round and grab one of Juliette Falls’ signature drinks, the Orange Crush, made with fresh-squeezed Florida oranges. They also have a great selection of beer and liquor and their “all day” menu boasts fresh salads, homemade soups, freshly sliced meats and cheese on freshly baked rolls and bread. Sports aficionados will love the ambiance at Big Dog’s; with large screen TV’s all around, you’ll be able to watch your favorite teams and the friendly and amiable staff will see to it that you never go hungry or thirsty.
For those of you thinking of relocating to the Sunshine State, Juliette Falls is a great place to call home. The community occupies 546 acres of prime Florida real estate in western Marion County. A nature preserve takes up almost a third of it and adds a lot to the natural beauty and allure of the property. Juliette Falls is an Audubon International Signature Program Member and the nature preserve features 3 miles of trails, perfect for walkers, bikers and hikers. Florida’s fourth-largest natural spring, Rainbow Springs, is nearby and produces more than 460 million gallons of crystal clear water daily. There are only 540 homesites available within the guarded gates of the community and homes are concrete block and stucco with floor plans that range from 3 to 6 bedrooms and 1,500 to over 7,000 square feet. Home prices range from $200,000 on the low end to well over $1 million.
Looking to get away for a few rounds of golf with friends and family? Juliette Falls offers stay and play packages. Where you’ll play is obvious, where you’ll stay is in a custom-designed Arthur Rutenberg single-family home. Four bedrooms each with its own TV, three bathrooms, a great room which opens out onto the lanai which features a pool, hot tub, and a full outdoor kitchen. This Arthur Rutenberg is located just a short walk from the clubhouse. The package also includes an opportunity to play a second-round for just a cart fee. Rates are very reasonable and it’s a great way to experience Juliette Falls community. For more information on these golf vacations as well as Juliette Falls, check out their website www.juliettefalls.com.