Legends Golf and Country Club of Clermont
CLERMONT, FL - The opening of Legends Golf Club near Clermont does two things: one, it adds another top flight daily fee golf course to the already rich Orlando area; and two, it further accentuates how the topography found throughout Lake County is ideally suited for golf.
The good news is that the city is expanding in this direction-west and south, into Lake and Osceola counties-and that a number of fine, exciting golf courses have been built on some of the most fascinating properties Orlando has ever seen. Clearly, with its hills and flowing land, this part of the state offers what few other locales can: elevations and the absence of wetlands.
Like nearby Diamond Players Club Clermont and Palisades, as well as its cousin Kings Ridge located across the street, Legends is a high bluff-low valley course that takes full advantage of an undulating and relatively treeless landscape. These courses are unlike anything located within city limits and for this reason alone they are worth the short drive west.
Visually the course soars. At its highest points it affords full-fledged panoramic views of the surrounding hills and vales and citrus groves. These vistas, once impossible to find on a Florida golf course, are increasingly becoming available to developers in this area who are wisely realizing that this sort of up-and-down action is appealing to both residents and golfers. The concept of "view" sells everywhere, especially here where it is so rare.
The property has much in common with the windy rolling landscapes of the Midwest. Though many of the views overlook the rooftops of the Lennar Homes development quickly filling in around the course, there are plenty of long looks out into the rural distance and several that oversee Lake Louisa to the south.
Legends is not designed to be a difficult or even a spectacular golf course but it's a success for what it is: a modest test of golf, difficult if approached too casually but eminently playable even from the championship tees at 6,911 yards.
The well-known golf team of Clifton, Ezell, Clifton, so adept at creating solid, populist golf courses in Orlando, designed the course with regard to a residential mentality. Though capable of hosting serious players and tournaments, Legends is geared to the local crowd and designed to appeal to the widest array of players. Most of the rounds will come from the owners of the new development and the Kings Ridge community, but all Orlando players should give this course a look if they are interested in genuine relief from their litany of flat, water-hazard reliant courses.
What stands out about Legends, aside from it's hilly movements, is the fresh, clean presentation. The course is balanced and stable from tee to green, conventional in every sense. Nothing original or dynamic is happening here, but there are few flaws.
Plenty of fairway is given to the players and most hazards are benignly placed to the sides. The holes are uniformly attractive but they are rarely artificially framed or built up. There are some prodigious breaks in the mid-sized greens but even these are rarely beyond management. And while the set-up is mostly straightforward, players looking for an intellectual game will find just enough strategy at holes such as the 5th, 14th, and 16th to keep them interested.
The fifth might be the best hole at Legends, a 393-yard (back markers) downhill dogleg left. From the tee the view is long into the surrounding hills and the elevation promotes a feeling of power. A bunker at the inside corner looks insignificant but failure to carry it means an awkward second shot from a poor angle into a green guarded by water to the right. The angle in is better from the right, but another bunker guards this side of the landing area and from here the hazard is more threatening, circling partly in front of the green. The approach is very much downhill and intense, its distance difficult to gauge.
Another tumbling hole is the 14th, reachable for some even at 551 yards. The fairway is broad and slightly uphill from the tee, and the second plays level to a brow some 100 yards from the green. From there it falls over a ridge and down to a tight green well below fairway level. A bunker and a deep hazard guard the green to the left but shots kept to the right have a chance at running on. Those that don't will have a ticklish pitch into this sunken green where a front pin is tough to see and even harder to get close to.
The 16th is a classic angle hole, a slight dogleg left. At 427 yards it is the second longest par four at Legends, and once again the fairway is wide, guarded to the sides by bunkers. The tendency is to play down the right where there is the most room, but from this side the second is a long uphill shot over a bunker that defends the middle and right of the shallow, back-to-front sloping green.
A better and bolder play is to drive aggressively down the left side to the bend in the dogleg. Though risky, this decision saves valuable yards and opens up the left side of the fortressed green complex. Once past this hole, only two average par fours await, so the 16th is the breaking point, the last real test of the round.
Legends is also notable for its par threes, three of which will leave lasting impressions. The fourth qualifies as one of the most memorable one-shotters in the area, a 196-yarder that head pro George Landry says, "is more like a hole from New England than from Florida."
The shot is over a chasm to a shelved green cut into the opposite hillside. Old pines and thin oaks flank the shallow putting surface and a steep bank dispels into the gully below anything short. This is a "one chance" shot on a picturesque hole that already has locals talking wildly.
Thirteen is similar, another long tee shot (199 yards) over a depression, this one set high on a hill amidst an orange grove with wonderful views east toward Orlando. The green is more challenging and the hole has an old, pastoral air about it. Shortly thereafter is fifteen, a hole that anyone who has driven past the course on Highway 27 has already seen, a short shot over a pond into a two-tiered green with the can't miss "LEGENDS" sign designed into the hillside behind.
We love courses such as Legends because they offer something different, something honest. Legends isn't pretentious and it doesn't achieve its success with smoke and mirrors and expensive manipulations. It's a nice, comfortable course with solid greens and a natural routing that nevertheless feels new and modern. The elevations are invigorating and wisely employed, indicative of the potential of this part of Florida. Hopefully more developers will take advantage of this rugged terrain and create courses at least as compelling as this one.
Legends Golf & Country Club of Clermont
1700 Legendary Blvd.
Clermont, FL 34711
Phone: (352) 243-1118
Legends is located just west of Highway 27, four miles south of Highway 50.
Rates through December are $45 Monday through Friday, $50 Saturday and Sunday. January through April rates rise to $50 and $59 respectively. After April, rates drop down to $34 and $38. Twilight rates are available after 1pm and Lake Country residents are eligible for further discounts.
Legends does not currently allow walking.