Rockledge,Florida – Willie Nelson’s “On the road again” has become my favorite song as I travel throughout Central Florida visiting, playing, and writing about golf courses along the way. It is difficult to comprehend the number of private, semi-private, and public courses there are just in this one area of the Sunshine State. Believe me when I tell you, there are some courses that even your GPS system will have trouble finding. This morning I headed out to Viera East Golf Club which is an hour southeast of Orlando on the shores of the Indian River in Brevard County.
Viera East Golf Club has an 18-hole championship golf course that was designed by Architect Joe Lee who also designed the Walt Disney courses. It was easy to see that he left his signature on this course the moment you step on the first tee. The wide-open fairway, that fits like a puzzle piece into the natural setting that is indigenous to this golf course, was the first clue that this was to be another Joe Lee masterpiece.
The first indication that this course would be different then expected was when my golfing partner said “it plays longer than it looks.” At first I shrug it off as just another golfing cliché until I found myself hitting my fourth shot to the 1sthole par 5 from 120 yards. This was my first indication that he might be right.
The next two par 4 holes were into a head wind that made the bunkers and water hazards more difficult to negotiate. A well placed second shot was imperative to giving yourself a chance for birdie putts on extremely fast greens that required your undivided attention coupled with a little luck!
The 4th, 5th, and 6th holes all played as expected but certainly caused some long approach shots as the wind picked up. The greens also continued to make each putt more difficult due to the undulating surfaces that made ball speed extremely difficult to judge.
The 7th par 3 was definitely a signature hole. The front of the green was well protected by water that ran along the entire right side of the fairway which took away a comfortable shot to the middle of a green that doglegged behind the water and pitched directly down to it. The scorecard read 158 yards and the GPS read 145 to the front edge. Getting your tee shot on this green will require a mid iron shot that gently fades into the left side of a well sloped green.
The rest of the front nine played more difficult than expected but once you got accustomed to the gusting winds and a little more creative with your club selection, it seemed to make the the course a little more user friendly.
The 10 hole is a dogleg right par 4 with water running alongside the right side that made the drive on this hole impossible to cut the corner. This made the hole Play much longer than it’s 380 yards and requires a 200+ yard second shot to a well bunkered green. It’s a tough hole that if you’re not careful could result in a double bogey or worst.
The 11th hole was the beginning of what I considered to be a major issue with a number of holes. The right side of this fairway is boarded by route 95N and the continued noise from the endless stream of traffic is a major assault on your auditory system. This was an unexpected problem that was difficult to get use to and caused a level of discomfort that was unexpected. The next couple of holes played as expected given the consistency of both the fairways and greens on both nines.
As you moved towards the 15th hole, the course moves away from the highway and the noise. This certainly made a big difference that re-established the comfort level needed to negotiate the last 4 holes. The 16th hole is a long 164 yard par 3 that will have you second guessing your club selection both before and after your shot.
The remainder of the back nine played exactly as expected. The 18th par 4 was a beautiful finishing hole that continued to test both your accuracy and judgment. A good indicator of just how long this course was playing, one of our playing partners hit his second shot with his driver from 205 yards on this 377 yard hole and landed it on the green.
Viera East Golf Course will challenge both your shot making skills and patience ,but is yours for the taking if you choose the right tee box and bring along your “A” game. My advice is simple, “stay off the championship tees.”