When the guy that designs the course you’re about to play calls it “The most unique golf course I’ve ever designed,” you know you’re in for a treat. Especially when that designer happens to be Joe Lee, whose other designs include Bay Hill Lodge and Club, The Blue Monster at Doral and Cog Hill.
What you get at International Golf Club at Deer Island is one of Central Florida’s most unforgettable golf experiences. Panoramic views and wildlife abound as you make your way around the course’s environmentally protected Florida wetlands. From the back tees, the course stretches to over 7,000 yards, however with seven different tees, The International Golf Club is a challenge for any golfer.
Know since its inception in 1994 as Deer Island Golf Club, this privately owned golf course recently underwent a name change in order to establish its identity as a world-class facility. What sets The International Golf Club apart are the club’s amenities and level of service. They have also enhanced the course’s playability in an effort to expand their reach to guests within the state as well as internationally. Recently, numerous renovations have been completed including an upgraded clubhouse, changes to the food and beverage menu as well as stocking more popular brands in the pro shop. The International Golf Club continually invests back into the facility in order to enhance their guests’ experiences. You won’t find a more congenial and professional staff.
The drive into the facility takes you past some of the most elegant and spacious homes you will find on the island. Surrounded by Lake Dora and Lake Beauclair, The International Golf Club is resplendent with majestic magnolias, towering oaks and nature preserves that are home to abundant wildlife including blue herons, egrets and bald eagles.
As for the golf course itself, golfers will find that the fairways have fairly generous landing zones however approach shots to tight well bunkered green complexes require an accurate iron game. There’s water everywhere and course knowledge will go a long way in knowing what club to pull on several tee boxes.
Number 2: Par 5, 490 yards. Although the landing area looks wide open off the tee, there’s water all down the right side and a well-placed bunker on the left side off the tee on this dogleg right par 5. The fairway opens up for your layup shot, however the water creeps back into play on your approach shot, especially with a right pin placement. Two good shots will leave a fairy short approach to a well undulated green. Nice hole.
Number 4: Par 4, 401 yards. Number 4 is listed as the hardest hole on the front side and for my money it’s the hardest on the course. Water is in play everywhere on number 4. You need to carry some water off the tee; although it’s negligible it’s still there. Anything hooked left off the tee is in the woods; anything pushed right is most likely wet. Your approach shot is played over more water and slightly uphill to a fairly small green. This is another nice hole.
Number 9: Par 4, 388 yards. If it weren’t for the water that creeps in on the right side in the landing area, this would be a straight hole. The woods on the left side keep you honest off the tee and the landing area looks lot narrower than it actually is. Your approach shot is to an elevated green fronted by a deep bunker as well as more sand one either side. The green slopes back to front and has some good break in it which can help (or hurt) depending on where the pin is.
Number 13: Par 3, 163 yards. This picturesque par 3 is pretty much all carry over water with a sand trap behind the green that tends to catch anything long. Sand shots can be fairly intimidating, especially with a front pin placement.
Number 16: Par 5, 460 yards. As par 5 holes go, number 16 is your best bet to get home in two. Play your tee shot down the right side; this will give you the best angle into the green. Water guards the front left of the green so anything hit short with a left pin placement is probably not going to be seen again. If you’re going to layup, there is plenty of room to bailout on the right side. This hole may well be your best shot at birdie or better on the course.
Number 18: Par 4, 394 yards. Number 18 is the number one handicapped hole on the course. It’s a long, straight par 4 with water on the left side of the green. It plays almost 400 yards from the white tees, with a slightly elevated green. I’m not sure why it’s handicapped number one; I thought there were a few harder holes.
Last Word: For a course that is off the beaten path, The International Golf Club is a fun, though- provoking golf course with lots of little subtleties to keep the round interesting. Amazingly enough, the course does between 29,000 – 31,000 rounds a year, according to GM JP Strong. I know that next time I play, the driver will stay in the bag a few more times than it actually did. If you fear water, you might want to find another course as it is plentiful at the International Golf Club. Water comes into play on every hole; barely noticeable on some holes; unrelenting on others. It even shapes a couple of holes, turning something that would otherwise require a straight shot into something that needs to be shaped.
I found the front nine had significantly tighter fairways that were often bordered by a lake on one side and wooded areas on the other. The back side seemed to be a bit more open but nonetheless equally as challenging.
It would appear that Joe Lee put a lot of thought into where the fairway bunkers should be placed when he designed this course; regardless of which tees you play, they are always in play! The bunker complexes around the greens are challenging and can turn an otherwise easy hole into something far more difficult. It seemed to me that the greens were smaller than what you typically see in Florida which adds to the challenge.
All in all, the International Golf Club will challenge even the best of players. With seven sets of tees, finding one that suits your game and shot making ability is an easy task, which always makes the game more enjoyable. For more information or to book a tee time, please visit their website at www.intlgolfclub.com or give them a call at (352) 343-7550.