Review and rating of Southwood Golf Club, Tallahassee
Named one of the Top 35 New Courses in America by Golf Magazine and among America’s Best New Courses by Golf Digest, Southwood Golf Club is a Fred Couples Signature Course that opened in 2002 and is one of the best and most popular courses in Tallahassee. With 5 sets of tee boxes and yardages ranging from 4521 to 7172 yards, Southwood Golf Club is suitable for players of all skill levels and will provide a fun and relaxing round for novices or a round that will challenge the low handicappers. There is also a sixth tee box called “Wee” which is 2976 yards and plays as a par 3 course with hole yardages ranging from 71 to 276 yards.
The course weaves in and out of housing developments with some huge beautiful homes to small more modest houses – all of which are set way back from the fairway and shouldn’t come into play. Couples did a superb job of leveraging the natural rolling terrain creating several ups and downs and elevated tee shots as the course twists and turns past some stunning huge sprawling live oaks with draping eerie gray moss.
Make sure you pick the right set of tee boxes because Southwood Golf Club will throw a lot at you and some of what you’ll encounter includes:
- elevation changes with some uphill blind shots as well as several downhill shots
- wind that play havoc with your shots and may require you to club up or club down and play the wind left or right
- fairway and green side bunkers which range from big to some real monsters that are steep and deep
- big greens that are well guarded requiring a precise approach shot and some study to read the subtle breaks
- fairways with contour, mounding, slope, and undulation
- water, trees, swales, and ravines that can cause a problem if you can’t stay in the fairway
But don’t let all of that scare you – Southwood is a fair layout that if you play smart and deploy some good course management and club selection skills you’ll have a fun, memorable, and low scoring round. And the second time you play, the course knowledge you gained on the first round will make the second round even more enjoyable.
All of the holes are named with in some cases the name gives you a clue of what you’re up against. There are some really fun holes that make this course both memorable and challenging, for example:
- there are a couple holes where you can pull out the big dog and try to drive the green like #2 (The Marshes – a 375 dog leg left past 5 bunkers, a marsh area, tall mounding, and a challenging approach) or #11 an uphill 335 yard shot to a raised green
- a number of holes have some uphill blind shots and then back downhill to the green like #10 (Oak Haven – a 562 yard par 5 with a blind uphill shot and back down past lots of oaks and some tall mounding that is tough to play from if you miss the fairway) or #18 (Back Porch) which is downhill all the way to the huge green in front of the clubhouse
- sprawling huge live oaks line both sides of the fairway and in some cases they pinch the fairway or block your approach shots – like #15 (Mossy Hill) which has an uphill approach shot with a large live oak blocking the left side and 3 huge bunkers guarding the front and right
- you’ll also find some great risk reward opportunities like #14 which has a huge stately oak planted in the middle of a gigantic multi-fingered bunker that blocks a direct shot to the green, unless you think you can fly it or #16 a downhill dog right then left over a pond and some steep and deep bunkers to the uphill green – you can risk a boomer off the tee box or a risky second shot over the lake to the uphill green
Southwood’s greens are part of it’s claim to fame – they are typically in very good condition, large, run true and fast around 10 to 11, and hold the ball well. Some are raised and well guarded, others have plenty of slope and subtle breaks, and a few have some tiers and undulation. Once the Pro told me they tend to break West, I seemed to sink more putts – unfortunately, he didn’t tell me that until the 14th hole! When we played the greens were in very good shape.
The fairways were in very good condition and firm and fast thanks to winter conditions – loved the extra roll. Most of the fairways are rolling with several ups and downs and some with significant and surprising elevation changes. You’ll also encounter some slope that can take you to some places you don’t want to be, lots of tall mounds along one or both sides, and some tree trouble if you tend to spray the ball.
The bunkers at Southwood Golf Club were perfect – soft thick sand that was a joy to hit from. However, most now have a little less sand – I took a lot of it home with me in my pockets, shoes, ears, and hair. Do whatever it takes to avoid the bunkers, most are deep with very steep faces and if you hit them, the sand is soft enough that you’ll be hitting a fried egg shot that’s typically stuck up against the lip!
I’m making this review of Southwood Golf Course sound like the course is very challenging and demanding and that’s somewhat true but its very fair with wide fairways, big greens, and bailout areas and little that will devour your ball unless you really spray it. The layout is great, the price is right, and you can turn in a great score if you apply a little bit of good course management.
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Service is very good and friendly. The pro shop is well stocked, the practice range is adequate, and the restaurant has a variety of good food.