Kings Ridge Golf Club in Clermont, Florida: Where Playability and pace of play converge for ultimate enjoyment

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

CLERMONT, Fla. -- Rolling hills, beautiful tree-dotted terrain and a relaxed lifestyle are some of the magnets for new residents to Kings Ridge, a gated, private community in one of central Florida's fastest growing areas.

18 Holes | Semi-Private | Par: 71 | 6269 yards
18 Holes | Semi-Private | Par: 57 | 3584 yards
Kings Ridge Golf Club - Kings Course - 18th
Hit wide on the 18th hole of the Kings Course at Kings Ridge Golf Club and you'll land in sand.
Kings Ridge Golf Club - Kings Course - 18thKings Ridge Golf Club - Kings Course - 4thKings Ridge Golf Club - Kings Course - 2ndKings Ridge Golf Club - Kings Course - no. 18Kings Ridge Golf Club - Ridge Course - 18th

The recreation centerpiece at Kings Ridge is its two-golf-course complex, which sits seamlessly in the sprawling, exquisitely landscaped development.

Kings Ridge's golf facilities are managed by Integrity Golf Company, which also oversees other Orlando-area courses such as Celebration Golf Club, Orange County National and Golden Bear Golf Club at Keene's Pointe.

Kings Ridge: Design and strategy

Since its opening in 1996, the Lloyd Clifton-designed Kings Course has been a hit because of its playability and setting. The unique, un-Florida-like rolling terrain with pine and oak-framed fairways, tees and greens presents a course where brains, not brawn, is required.

Measuring 6,269 yards and playing to par 71, the Kings, also known as the South Course, has par-4 holes that range from 320 yards to 451 yards from the back (Emerald) tees. There are five sets of tees on each hole, and Clifton provides generous landing areas off the tee.

Forty bunkers dot the Kings layout along with several elevated tee boxes and greens. Water only comes into play on one hole, the 156-yard, par-3 fourth. While the greens aren't expansive, they provide challenge with varying undulations.

Some of the more difficult holes that can easily result in big numbers on your scorecard are no. 1, a 506-yard par 5 with a massive waste bunker that stretches more than 150 yards framing the right side of the fairway; no. 6, a 487-yard par 5 that demands accuracy off the tee and a tricky green that slants right to left; and no. 14, a par 3 that plays even longer than its 205 yards from the back tees.

"The Kings is a thoroughly enjoyable course, especially for seniors and those who like courses where lots of different shots are required," said Eddie Caiazza, a Kings Ridge starter/ranger and member of Kings Ridge's First Impression team. "We get lots of repeat players because they like the yardage distances, the friendly accepting manner of the members and the pace of play."

Caiazza said Kings Ridge puts a special emphasis on playing a round under four hours.

"We take great pride in getting everyone around the course in a consistent time frame," Caiazza said. "And our members and outside players really like that about Kings Ridge."

A superb opportunity for golfers who play sporadically, juniors and beginners is the Ridge Course. Designed by Lakeland, Fla.-based architect Ron Garl, the par-57, 3,660-yard layout has three challenging par-4 holes along with numerous fun-to-play par 3s. While the yardages are short, Garl incorporates a wide variety of obstacles, such as well placed water hazards, pot bunkers, grassy hollows and deep Bahia grass roughs.

Amenities at Kings Ridge

If you want to celebrate a great round, the best way is by enjoying a sumptuous hot pastrami sandwich on grilled rye and a cold libation at the Snack Shop, which is connected to the pro shop. Other menu highlights include the Royal Club sandwich and BBQ Pork sandwich as well as a beer and wine.

Practice facilities are exceptional, with a full grass range, chipping areas with target flags, practice bunkers and putting greens.

For those who need to tweak their swing for better performance or want a complete overhaul, the Golf Academy at Kings Ridge has a selection of programs and private lessons.

Golf at Kings Ridge: The verdict

If you're looking for a bombs-away experience with your driver, these courses can't accommodate you. After all, there are only two holes more than 500 yards (the par-5 first and 15th), so you'll likely opt for a 3 or 5 wood off some tees.

That said, there are great shotmaking opportunities on both layouts. Clifton and Garl are both masters at designing courses that are playable for all skill levels, regardless of length off the tee, and they did an excellent job at Kings Ridge. The courses are playable, and the natural rolling terrain in this part of central Florida provides a great setting for an enjoyable round of golf.

Ed SchmidtEd Schmidt, Contributor

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

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