World Woods’ Pine Barrens course and I have quite a little history. I visited the facility back in 2004 when I thought it was a good idea to do a golf trip. As I would find out, my golf game wasn’t quite ready for a golf trip, especially with playing on surfaces I’m not used to playing on. With a notable exception, my experience was less than ideal, even though I loved the course.
In 2011 I returned to Pine Barrens with hopes of putting on a better performance. My golf game has significantly improved since then, and with my recent success of my New Mexico trip, I was sure I could do it.
The first bad decision I made was to attempt to walk. Pine Barrens is one of the few Florida courses that has a bit of elevation. From tee to green, it’s not that bad. But, there are a few green to tee walks that make it a bit more than a walk in the park. Add this to a heavy humidity in the air (as you can clearly see by this photo), and I was beat by hole 7.
Thankfully, a single came in a cart and I rode the rest of the way. So, unless the temperature is pretty cool and you’re in decent shape, I would recommend the cart. Can’t say the pro didn’t warn me 🙂 Bottom line: I’m glad I walked to get the true feel of the course, but I definitely wouldn’t do it again; at least without an escort cart between holes.
Unfortunately, I reached my point of no return with my heart rate, and played rather poorly. So once again, the course owned me. Add to that an awkward shot I played at 18 that injured my wrist, keeping me from playing a 2nd 18 that day at Dunes Club and another engagement I had set up the next morning with a fellow member of GolfClubAtlas; and also kept me out of Midwest Mashie.
Enough about me, what do I think of the course? In short, I maintain my opinion that as of April 2011, Black Mesa is still the best course I’ve played. But World Woods Pine Barrens is a closer second than I previously gave it credit for.
Now that I’ve played this course twice, I get how out of place the par 3 third feels. It’s the only hole on the entire course which forces the player to play over water (15 gives you a bail out; more on that later). On its own, it’s not that bad of a hole; but compared with its surroundings, it just doesn’t fit in.
The highlights of the course come back-to-back at 14 and 15. 14 is a dogleg left par 5 that gives the players a lot of options. Off the tee, the fairway is generous. There’s bailout to the right, but those hoping for eagle will test the left side. By the green, there’s room to the right for a layup. Anything left though is D-E-A-D.
15 is a great risk/reward par 4. I know in my other reviews I speak highly of these types of holes. But this one at Pine Barrens has to rank among the best in the public sector of American golf. There are two clear options: test the right side with a huge carry, or play safe to the left. Going left leaves an approach to a narrower green.
Pine Barrens closes with a hole which requires the player to play a draw to carry the left-side bunker. One of the few holes on the course where a draw is the preferred shot.
Bottom line: World Woods Pine Barrens is not your typical Florida golf course. There is a decent amount of elevation. It’s unabashedly inspired by Pine Valley, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the closet (in spirit) a lot of golfers will get. As far as bang for your buck, it’s got to be one of the best.
The second course at World Woods, Rolling Oaks, is nothing to sneeze at either. It’s a good change of pace from Pine Barrens and is certainly worth a play if you can sneak it in. World Woods also sports a 9 hole short course, a 3 hole practice hole course, a 360* driving range, an iron range (though I’ve yet to see it open), and a humungous putting course. Simply put, World Woods is a fantastic facility for golf and Pine Barrens is worth traveling for.