Thankfully, day 2 didn’t hold the promise of poor weather that was forecast. Armed with a few extra towels and an umbrella anyways, we made the 3-minute drive over to “Ponce” from our place adjacent to the 5th hole.
What little bit of rain there was could be categorized more as a mist and did not detract from our ability to enjoy and play the fine course. When I was researching this area knowing we only had two days to be able to enjoy the golf courses, Ponce de Leon was the first one that I chose. Based on its description as the most challenging of all eight courses, I thought it was fitting to play a course of that pedigree. I then selected a second course, but in the end it was not the one we played. Our host, Director of Golf, Mr. Tom Heffer, put us on Granada for the obvious reasons stated in the first review. Having reviewed numerous golf facilities with more than one golf course on site, it is not uncommon that one course will be every bit as good as the next.
Ponce de Leon was equal in every aspect of coarse condition; quality of turf, layout, speed of greens, bunker sand and configuration and the list goes on and on. I would imagine from chatting with locals who play all the courses that this continuity runs through every course in Hot Springs Village. The credit goes to the management for allocating the necessary funds to keep all the golf courses up to these high standards and in particular the Golf Course Superintendent working with the Director of Golf to make this happen. In order to provide very succinct accuracy as to our assessment of any golf course we use a two-page form on a clip board that we bring along with us in the golf cart.
From our initial introduction to Dave Buck, who greeted us in the Pro Shop and then he personally coming out to the practice putting green to let us know we could take the tee when we were ready, a solid 10 out of 10 was marked down for his efforts. Whether it was his 19 years of experience working in the Pro Shop or just his nature, his friendliness was impeccable and made us feel very welcome and relaxed to play this challenging layout.
After our usual half hour warm-up on the irons only driving range and a few pitch shots and practice putts on two separate dedicated greens we set off.
The golf course was not that dramatically different than Granada other than the landing areas on fairways off the tee boxes was considerably tighter. Similar to Granada, very defined rectangular shaped tee boxes and beautiful greens that held all shots and strategically placed bunkers adorned this tantalizing track.
For the most part, the golf course was fairly undulating except when getting to the 12th where it flattened out and then was back to the undulations as you rose up towards the 14th green.
Myra‘s maiden voyage the day before at Granada certainly was of a huge benefit as she was almost back to her top form and if it were not for a few subtle breaks on the greens, she probably would have made 3 to 4 really good pars. In order to score well there is a huge emphasis on accurate putting and my usual solid putter failed me as I had six 3 putts on route to an 87.
Saying that, I had a very spectacular birdie on the par 5 8th hole but it only required a 3 footer.
We were sailing right along, only stopping to admire some of the beautiful autumn colors in the surrounding trees and also to watch a cheeky squirrel climb a tree right next to us and give us the evil eye. That was the chubbiest squirrel I’ve ever seen and Myra said, “Now you know why some people do eat them”. If you had a stopwatch on us, I don’t think you could have got it any closer to four hours for us to complete the round with everything moving and flowing very smoothly out there.
With two of the eight golf courses at Hot Springs Village now under our belt, our biggest challenge now is deciding when to return to play and review the other six and of course repeat playing the two gems that we did on this trip. Again, I highly recommend this as a golf destination and from the people we met and the hospitality received perhaps it will become your second residence or your full-time home. If it wasn’t for the fact, we live 2,500 miles away on the West coast of British Columbia, Canada, we would seriously consider this wonderful spot as a second home too.
We were in no need to rush off as we had no engagement to go to, so we enjoyed a cold one and discussed the features of the golf course in the very quaint and cozy Mulligans Restaurant situated right next to the Pro Shop.
Many thanks y’all.
Bill and Myra