Daytona Beach: From Fairway To Speedway

Daytona Beach may be best known for three-wide racing on a legendary 2.5 mile tri-oval but the celebrated speedway isn’t the only track in these parts that rolls fast and true.

Golfers looking to make the most of an extended weekend here will have to race around the city if they want to check off the crème de la crème of the twenty or so courses in and around the city.  At the very top of the must-play leaderboard in Volusia County is LPGA International which serves up a pair of exceptional layouts designed by renowned architects Rees Jones and Arthur Hills.

The Jones course is much more wide open and is  the easier of the two layouts that both fetch four-and-a-half stars on Golf Advisor. “If you miss these fairways, you may want to take up another sport,” jokes the starter before my group tees off on Jones.  Meanwhile the Hills course, routed through natural wetlands with plenty of forced carries plays a lot tighter and you may need a few extra balls.

The HQ of the women’s tour has a well-earned reputation as a mettle tester. Hundreds of LPGA Tour cards have been clinched on these fine fairways and undulating greens over the years during the association’s annual five-round final qualifying tournament. It also has hosted the Symetra Tour Championships for a number of years, was twice the venue for the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Golf Championships, and was a stop on the LPGA Tour in the late ‘90s.

You can fine tune your game between rounds at one of the most impressive practice facilities in the Sunshine state.  There are six putting greens to dial in your reads, a wide variety of bunkers of varying face heights to hone your sand game, and even a purpose-built area to work on uneven lies. There’s even three full length holes (a par 3, par 4, and par 5) in the practice area that are as meticulously maintained as the holes on the golf courses. Malcolm’s Bar and Grill is the gathering spot in the clubhouse for gabbing over some chow and recapping that one chip-in you holed that erased all memory of that unexpected visit from the shank-o-potamus on No. 9.

Victoria Hills which offers elevation changes befitting of its namesake and was named as one of the state’s top 15 public designs by GolfWeek is another one not to be missed. For some old school golf charm, there’s a trio of courses in the area on the historic Florida Golf trail: Riviera Country Club, New Smyrna Golf Club and Daytona Beach Golf Club’s South Course. While at DBGC, also take the newly reopened north course for a spin. The greens have been enlarged and spiffed up with smooth TifEagle Bermudagrass.

Planning on packing in a race and a couple rounds? The 2020 NASCAR schedule is shifting gears, not only will Daytona kick off the racing season in February, it’ll also bookend it, hosting the regular season finale, as the Coke Zero Sugar 400 moves from its July 4th weekend date to the last Saturday in August.

Off Tracks
Don’s skip leg day—even on vacation. It’s a long and windy 203 step staircase to the top of Florida’s tallest lighthousebut the views of ponce inlet below are worth the climb.  Aside from the ascent to the lookout there’s also plenty of local history to soak up on the grounds. To fuel up on more culture, see what’s on exhibit at Daytona State College’s Southeast Museum of Photography. There’s also Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art of trove of paintings of Florida.

Stay
At the The Shores Resort & Spa! Whether you are watching stock cars push 190 mph or cranking up your swing speed at one of the many area golf courses you’re going to want to stay right on the playa. This beautiful beachfront hotel will take care of all your rest and relaxation needs. Be sure to book a warm bamboo massage at the spa to knead away your golf yips and fuel up for tomorrow’s round on the seaside terrace at Azure Oceanfront American Kitchen.

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

A card-carrying member of the leisure cognoscenti when Mike Dojc isn’t repairing impossibly large divots or alphabetizing his impressive ball marker collection, he’s slinging copy for a diverse range of editorial and corporate entities. Highlights of his client roster include Nike, Geico, Maxim, Metro News, CAA, AAA, Men’s Fashion, Huffington Post, Golf Canada, Fairways Magazine, Back 9 Network, and many others. He blogs at SlingingBirdies.com

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