Visit Sebring - Citrus Golf Trail PDF Print E-mail



Recently we traveled to Sebring, Florida and it's neighboring communities

of Avon Park and Lake Placid to experience the Citrus Golf Trail. Located

in Highland County (nearly 90 miles south of Orlando proper), this rural

central Florida region is a bit of an unknown in national golf circles. In a

state that boasts well over 1,000 golf courses, there is bound to be hidden

gems. The Citrus Golf Trail is an eclectic blend of both modern and

classic course designs that will pique the interests of the die hard and

casual links lover. Highlands County offers less crowds and a more

laid back atmosphere than the tourism mecca of the I-4 corridor. We

sampled golf at five of the Trail's layouts: Harder Hall, Placid Lakes,

Pinecrest, Highland Ridge and Sun N' Lake.



The Inn on the Lakes was our home base for week, and is the perfect

lodging compliment to the local golf scene. Located in the heart of Sebring

right on Hwy 98, the Inn is THE spot in town to relax and recharge for

whatever type of vacation plans you have in store.




The Inn has 155 rooms providing an atmosphere of casual luxury.

The Chicanes restaurant and bar will impress with cuisine and

service that's on par with the best resorts, but with the charm of

a small town bed & breakfast. Hospitality isn't a slogan here, it's

a staple.





The view of little Lake Jackson from the terrace outside my room.

For more info:






Harder Hall golf club was our first stop. Dick Wilson was commissioned

to transform the course into a championship layout. 2016 marked the

61st playing of the Harder Hall Womens Invitational run by Amateur

legend Carol Semple Thompson. The 62nd edition of the event was

underway as of this writing. It remains one of the most prestigious

events in women's amateur golf, some notable past winners include:

Natalie Gulbis, Christie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Morgan Pressel and Brittany





The history runs deep at Harder Hall, check out this honor roll of

Mixed Team Champions from yesteryear.






If you have an affinity for classic works, Pinecrest an original 1926

Donald Ross design just might me the sleeper of the Citrus Golf Trail.

This Avon Park routing bobs and weaves through mature orange

groves and challenges even the best players with the Scotsman's

famous false front greens (that have just been re-grassed with ultra

dwarf tif-eagle bermuda) that rolled liked glass. The first ever televised

golf event was played here in 1959 and was covered by NBC. Slammin

Sam Snead, and Carey Middlecoff were among those competing at

Pinecrest that historical week. Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Grover Cleveland

and FDR were among the luminaries that played here back in the day.

GM Joe Staffieri met with our group and summed up the value here,

"Where else can you play a genuine classic Ross design for $30 ($38

right now in full season). This is the very definition of "Hidden Gem".





Highlands Ridge has 36 holes of golf designed by Steve Smyers

(South course) and the late great Dave Harman (North course)

who crafted Orange County National and the highly acclaimed

Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand. We played the North course which

opened in 2001 (earning many honors as one of North America's

best new designs), and impressed everyone in the group. At

7234 yards from the tips, this is a big ballpark and will test even

the biggest hitters.




If you're after some local dining specialties, the Cowpoke's Watering

Hole steakhouse on U.S Hwy 27 has it all. I highly recommend the

the seafood choices as well. A big thumbs up to the Whole Snapper.



Located in the city of Lake Placid, Placid Lakes Country Club recently

celebrated it's 50th year. A complete renovation of fairways, greens

and bunkers was finished in 2005.



Many would consider Sun 'N Lake as the pinnacle of Highlands County

golf, no arguement here. The 36 hole facility consists of Deer Run (built

in 1976) and Turtle Run which was added over two decades later in 1999.

Sun N' Lake is worthy of it's praise, and is the annual host of PGA Tour

Latin America Q school. Their vast and faithful membership is a testament

to the great job being done by Head Golf professional Jim Kurtzeborn and

his staff, the club is vibrant and playing conditions are superb.





Any visit to the area would be incomplete without visiting the world

famous Sebring International Raceway. The Chateau Elan hotel and

Convention Center sits beside the nation's oldest road racing track

that began it's storied history in 1952.

Chateau Elan features the Esperante restaurant and Hairpin lounge

that serves as a lodging and entertainment partner to the legendary

racetrack. Visitors who reserve a room for the "12 Hours of Sebring"

in March will have a vantage point to watch the races from the comfort

of their suites and hotel rooms. During our visit, BMW and Audi were

out testing their race cars, what an adrenaline rush it is just watching

the speed displayed on the 3.74 mile track . . . and yes, they have

golf packages available with your stay.



Florida golf of both the modern and classic variety is what the Citrus

Golf Trail is all about, and at a great value. Throw in some small town

charm and hospitality, an international sporting event at a world class

venue, and it all adds up to VISIT SEBRING. You'll be glad you did.