Destination: Daytona Beach

by Jason Bruno

Sunrise views from the Bahama House Hotel in Daytona Beach are surreal

Mention Daytona Beach to just about anyone, and the first thoughts that come to mind is Nascar’s Crown Jewel – the Daytona 500, the iconic Speedway, Spring Break, Bike Week and the magnificent Atlantic Ocean. The coastline is plentiful, nearly a dozen miles long and known for having the best surfing conditions on the peninsula.

LPGA International

Although golf isn’t at the top of the marquee in Daytona Beach, the LPGA has claimed it as it’s home for nearly 30 years. LPGA International is the home to 36 holes of championship golf (Arthur Hills and Rees Jones layouts). The Hills course recently reopened after a greens renovation project. The new iteration created larger TifEagle Bermudagrass greens that can accommodate more hole locations and more consistent surfaces. The renovation project also included new greenside bunkers.

LPGA International also hosts the final stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School and is home to a first-class practice facility featuring a double-ended range, a Rees Jones 3-hole championship practice course, short game areas and putting greens. 

Cypress Head

Cypress Head in Port Orange, Florida is located just south of Daytona Beach about 6 miles inland from the coast. Kemper Sports has managed the city-owned facility for over 20 years, offering a private club experience at a public/municipal facility. Designed in 1992 by Arthur Hills and Mike Dasher, Cypress Head features back-to-back par 3s at holes 6 & 7 and back-to-back par 5s coming home at the 17th & 18th holes.

Our favorite hole on the property just might be the par 3 16th called “Night n Day”. A brilliant offering of tee box dichotomy. The back tee (black) measures 181 yards, while the next tee box up (blue tees) plays just 103 yards. The green itself is well contoured with several different sections requiring pinpoint accuracy. A macro view of the green complex reveals a golf hole that can play many different ways based on hole location, wind and tee box choice. Miss this target, and a myriad of challenges await.

New Smyrna Beach Golf Course

New Smyrna Beach Golf Course was perhaps Ross’ final chapter in course design, Ross died in 1948 just after W. Tydings gave the city 150 acres of land for the immediate construction of a golf course with the stipulations that the land had to be used for a golf course and had to be built within 10 years or Tydings would regain ownership of the land. According to the club, James B. McGovern, a longtime design associate of Donald Ross, visited the site on behalf of Ross and secured the hiring of Donald Ross and Associates . . . ground breaking and construction began later that year.

Nine holes were opened in early 1949, but, then due to a dispute over title to part of the land, work on the back nine was stopped. Four more holes finally opened in 1953, which was a year after McGovern’s death. The remaining five holes (the present third through seventh) weren’t completed until 1956 and put into play the following spring. 

Although Ross himself may have had a minimal hand in the project and design at New Smyrna, undoubtedly his influence was the ethos of what has been a Municipal asset to the city residents for over 70 years. In 2006, Bobby Weed completely renovated the golf course. Everything about the place is a fun vibe, if you’ve ever been to Charleston Muni this is its Florida equivalent.

Dining/Attractions

Photo credit: Joy Sarver

Dining in Daytona offers plentiful choices, but the highlight was definitely at Millie’s, a quaint village restaurant that has an eclectic menu of delicious entrees and fantastic service. Millie’s was recently featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives’’ with Guy Fieri as the host.

Jackie Robinson Parkimage courtesy of mlb.com

As it turns out, Daytona is so much more than a racetrack and beach town, it’s also the home of Jackie Robinson Park – now a historical landmark, where Robinson played his first Spring Training game in 1946 (and is now the home of the Daytona Tortugas), as well as the Daytona Aquarium and Rain Forest Adventure, and the Museum of Arts & Services.

These attractions, along with Speedway, LPGA International and Bahama House are all conveniently located within a 15 minute drive of each other. For more information on all things Daytona Beach visit: https://www.daytonabeach.com/

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