If you’ve been searching for the perfect, affordable golf getaway and have tired of crowded courses in subpar locations, Sugar Mill Country Club in New Smyrna Beach, FL, should be on your short list.
Less than an hour from Orlando, on Florida’s “Space Coast,” New Smyrna Beach is a perennial pick on everyone’s best beach list, and dazzles with blue skies soaring over 13 miles of pristine white sand.
The 27-hole golf course, laid out by famed course designer Joe Lee, opened in 1970. Lee, who designed some of the best courses in southern and central Florida, was once praised by golf legend Jack Nicklaus as someone who “never built a bad course.”
Instead of punishing players with deep bunkers and tricky water hazards, Lee created challenging courses that gave them a fair crack at doing well.
That’s especially true at Sugar Mill, which Lee once described as “a player’s dream layout, with a lot of good, old-fashioned character. The real golfer likes it.” Each of the three 18-hole courses average 6,700 yards of Bermuda grass, with a difficulty rating (slope) of 135—definitely on the demanding side.
Pull up to Sugar Mill, with its verdant rolling hills and a clubhouse resting on the highest natural elevation in the county, and the vibe is akin to that of the most classic clubs of the North.
Even the pride that’s taken in caring for the course is apparent from the very first tee: “We’re known as one of the best courses in all of central Florida,” says director of golf Derek Morrison, “and we’re consistently striving to maintain and improve upon that distinction.”
Aside from the course and clubhouse at Sugar Mill Country Club, which is owned and operated by the members, there’s also a tennis center, wellness center, and pool. Award-winning food and entertainment, along with the activities of a busy social calendar, are par for the course.
It’s easy to see why members and guests seldom find reason to leave, straying only when the immaculate sand just down the road beckons them.