Years ago, when I lived in Lakeland, FL, my golf buddies and I would venture away from our home track and play some of the courses in the Orlando area. One of our favorite courses was Providence Golf Club in Davenport, FL.
Granted, it has been several years since I last played the golf course. As I recall, after you turned off the highway and passed through the security gate, it was a long, somewhat desolate drive to the clubhouse. There wasn’t much there. Now, Providence is a bustling, thriving community with about 2000 homes with plans for many more.
The centerpiece of the community is the 18-hole Mike Dasher-designed championship golf course which opened for play in 2007. Mike Dasher grew up in nearby Winter Park, FL, and has designed several other courses in the Orlando area. In 2018, club General Manager Tim Greco did the redesign and construction of all 21 green complexes, working directly with Morris Brown and his new Champion G12 Ultra Dwarf Bermuda turf. To resurface the greens. They also designed the practice areas including the short game area and short and long fairway bunker area. Providence’s greens are now recognized as some of the best greens in the Orlando area and the entire practice facility is second to none.
Providence Golf Club is a daily fee public club that is way ahead of its local competition and offers the best prepaid discount program in the area, making golf more affordable than other comparable clubs in the area. They provide all who visit with a country club-like atmosphere. The golf course has four sets of tees with yardages ranging from 7,011 yards for low handicappers to 5,029 yards for ladies, juniors, and senior golfers. I found that the White Tees (6,023/68.7/122) provided a fair challenge and still let me leave with a little dignity!
The Club is best described as part parkland, heathland, prairie, and Old Florida. As you make your way around, you’ll get the idea. Native grasses and waste bunkers create a wide-open feel on several holes while others, like the par-3 17th, are framed by strands of large deciduous trees. Then there are the many water hazards, palm trees, and heavily wooded wetlands that remind you that you’re in the Sunshine State. The most prevalent hazard out here is the water, which comes into play in one form or another on at least 13 holes. The greens are well bunkered.
As you make your way around the course, you’re sure to see a lot of Florida wildlife including blue herons, egrets, cranes, wild turkeys, hawks, and alligators. You may even see the occasional otter frolicking in one of the ponds.
Providence has several memorable holes, but my favorites were Numbers 6, 7, 12, 14, and 18. With a large waste bunker making up much of the boundary on the right side – the side that most golfers find from the tee – Number 6 is handicapped as the course’s toughest. It plays 376 yards from the White Tees. A tee shot down the right center of the fairway should receive a friendly kick back into the middle and leave you the best angle into the green. A good drive will leave a long to mid-iron approach shot into the green which features many subtle breaks and undulations. A large bunker guards the front right side of the green and if you miss your shot to the left you’re not likely to see that ball again!
After playing the toughest hole on the course, you might think things would get easy, but that’s not the case. Number 7 is a dogleg right around water and plays 380 yards from the White tees, slightly longer than the previous hole. It’s the second toughest hole on the front side and presents a true risk/reward opportunity. Longball hitters may be able to take it over the water, although that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. A good drive for the rest of us that finds the fairway will leave a mid-iron approach shot into a green protected with sand front left and water and a large oak tree on the right. Par is a great score here!
The 12th hole is a picturesque par three that plays 150 yards from the White Tees. It requires a forced carry over water into a green that is surrounded by water on the left side and a large bunker on the right. From the bunker, a pin placement on the left side can be difficult, with the water looming directly behind the flag. Aim for the middle of the green off the tee and at least give yourself a chance at birdie.
The 14th hole ranks as the toughest hole on the inward nine. It’s a par 4 that measures 415 yards from the White Tees. If you’ve had good control of your driver up to this point, you may want to play your tee shot over the trees and bunkers, straight at the green. Miss it left and you’re likely to find the water. No matter how well you hit your tee shot, you’ll still be looking at a long iron or hybrid into the green. There are bunkers on the right side that sit about 50 and 75 yards in front of the putting surface. If possible, take your par and run!
Providence’s finishing hole is a 323-yard par 4. It’s a dogleg right with a bunker at the turn on the left side and a lake that makes up the right side from the dogleg up to the green. While longball hitters may like to have a go at the green, the rest of us might be wise to hit something less than a driver off the tee and leave a manageable pitch shot into the green. The fairway slopes towards the water and there is a large swale on the right side of the green.
Inside Providence’s beautiful 8,000 sq. ft. clubhouse, you’ll find a well-appointed golf shop, restaurant, banquet facilities, and patio dining. Many community residents and non-golfers stop by the clubhouse for a meal at Providence Golf Club’s Grill. The grill is open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. Everything is cooked to order and the menu includes pancakes, egg sandwiches, and French toast. The Club’s version of The Grand Slam breakfast will keep your stomach satisfied for the entire round! The lunch/dinner menu offers traditional clubhouse food – wings, burgers, and sandwiches. The dinner menu steps things up a notch with Chicken Marsala, Blackened or Grilled Salmon, and Chicken Parmigiana. Whatever your choice, you won’t be disappointed!
General Manager Tim Greco and his staff must be doing something right. With 41 courses within a 15-mile radius of the property, they manage to keep a very active tee sheet and stay busy. Greco claims, “It must be luck,” and adds “We are an independent public golf course, and the majority of residents don’t play golf. Ninety-four percent of our rounds come from outside the community.” It’s also a favorite choice for golf packagers who book trips to the Orlando area.
Some of the golfers I spoke with said that they keep coming back because of the friendly staff, while others mentioned the playability of the course. Every day new golfers play the course and enjoy the country club atmosphere of this hidden gem located 15 minutes from Orlando’s theme parks and 45 minutes from Tampa. The proof is in the pudding as they say. Book a round of golf at Providence Golf Club and experience for yourself all that this public golf facility has to offer.
For more information or to book your next round at Providence Golf Club, give them a call at (863) 424-7916 or visit them online at www.providence-golf.net.