When potential members are considering a new – or in the case of Florida, another – country club to join, there are several criteria that come into play. Typically, at or near, the top of the list are amenities and dining; price (i.e. initiation fees, monthly dues, etc.) ultimately figures into the equation as well. When taking these features into consideration, you will find that the Country Club of Ocala has it all.
Founded in 1994, the Country Club of Ocala provides its members and their guests a place to gather and share their high-quality lifestyle standards. Members from all walks of life have made the Country Club of Ocala their club of choice and have enjoyed the improvements that Hampton Golf has made since taking over the club in late 2016. I spoke with several members who had nothing but great things to say about Hampton Golf and how they are in the process of taking the club to the next level. Previous management had made renovations to the golf course and left many of their improvements unfinished. Hampton has stepped up to the plate and is seeing things through to completion; as a result, the course and facility are in their best shape in years.
The main clubhouse and banquet center have gone through a complete makeover and the tennis and fitness center are due to be renovated this summer. Tennis plays a big part at the Country Club of Ocala. Tennis enthusiasts will enjoy five clay hydro courts and two hard courts, a well-organized tournament schedule and a constant inter-club play calendar. Whether you are seeking a leisurely game or some intense competition, you are sure to find what you are looking for at the Country Club of Ocala.
The fitness center and pool share the same clubhouse as the tennis center. The fitness center is equipped with lots of cardio equipment and free weights and a staff that will see to it that you get the most out of your workout without hurting yourself. Small group classes like boot camp and yoga are also available to help round out your exercise regimen. A massage therapist is available by appointment.
The centerpiece of the club is the 18-hole championship golf course designed by architect Steve Nugent. This scenic, par 72 layout can play as tough or as easy as you like; it all depends on the tees you choose. Doglegs, well-manicured water hazards and strategically placed bunkers will challenge golfers of all abilities. Sloped fairways and elevation changes add to the challenge. The course favors a well thought out strategy from a straight hitter over a longball hitter although length is a definite advantage on a couple of the par 5 holes. The greens are well-manicured and feature considerable undulation to challenge your putting game. Keep your tee shots in the fairway and your approach shots below the hole and you’re bound to do well.
There are several memorable holes out here, but none more than the closing hole on each nine. Number 9 is a par 4 that plays 405 yards from the White Tees and takes two very well executed shots to reach the green You’ll want to keep the ball right of the tee to avoid the water that runs down the left of the fairway. The water sits well below the raised fairway so, even if you flirt with the left side, you’ll most likely leave yourself a tough approach shot. If you’re playing up the right side, be sure to avoid the pot bunker, which also makes for a difficult 2nd. Your approach shot plays downhill to a large green that is fronted by a big oak tree on the right side and a lake on the left. Anything hit to the right will likely find the sand. The green slopes severely from back to front. No wonder why this is the #1 handicapped hole on the course.
From the White Tees, Number 18 is a short par 5 that plays 468 yards and has a large pond that must be carried to get on the green. The hole plays slightly downhill and has several oaks along the way that hug the fairway. A good drive leaves a great risk/reward opportunity, but you’ll have to carry your shot onto this shallow green. A large bunker on the right side in the landing area in front of the pond keeps you honest and force you to come in from the left side. Number 18 could be an opportunity to write down a low score…or not!
The County Club of Ocala also has an impressive practice facility, with a full-length driving range where you can hit every club in your bag, a separate short game area complete with bunker and a good size putting green. The professional staff is readily available to help you overcome any of your golf game’s shortfalls.
A key component to any private club is the dining and the Country Club of Ocala doesn’t disappoint. Meals are served in one of two dining rooms that overlook the Club’s waterfall and stream. Or you can choose to dine on the canyon style wrap-around porch and enjoy the scenery. If you’re looking for something even more casual, the clubhouse bar offers diners a clear view of the 18th green.
Executive Chef Daphne Garcia and her culinary staff have created lunch, dinner and kids’ menus that feature unique and tasty dishes that are sure to please any palate. For example, the lunch menu includes a Salmon Burger and Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich. The dinner menu features several seafood and vegan entrees, while the kids’ menu offers choices that any child will enjoy. There’s something for everyone! The Golf Club restaurant offers lunch Tuesday through Sunday, and dinner Wednesday through Saturday.
Even though the Country Club of Ocala is a private club – and plans are to keep it that way – it’s very family oriented. Once renovations of the tennis and recreation center are complete, there will be a kid’s area, complete with TVs, games and other activities. Kids also revel in the junior Olympic-size swimming pool, which offers year-round enjoyment for members and their guests.
The Country Club of Ocala offer several membership plans for families, individuals and corporations; tennis and social memberships are also available. Monthly dues are low and initiation fees are currently being waived, so now is a very good time to join. For more information on how to become a member of the exclusive Ocala club, visit their website at www.thecountryclubofocala.com.