World Woods Golf Club – The “Un-Florida”

World Woods Golf Club - Pine Barrens Course
World Woods Golf Club - Pine Barrens Course
World Woods Golf Club – Pine Barrens Course

Twenty plus years ago I got wind of a new golf course complex being created in Florida. In usual developer hyperbole, which was even more rampant at the time, there were tales of “the biggest golf complex in the world” and such thrown around.

In an age before the proliferation of the internet, insight was scarce so a buddy and I decided to check out the for ourselves. The fact that they had 2100 acres of property alone told me it might be worth a look.

Driving north of Tampa, we were soon following desolate back roads and wondering just where in the heck we were going. And how could there be anything “world-class” in a place like this that looked pretty much like every other part of Florida – you know, flat and watery.

Soon though, thing changed. The roads began to dip and rise like I had not witnessed in any other part of the state. Sandy dunes became more common that swampy ponds.  Typical Florida topography this was not.

And then we found it – World Woods. Welcome to Brooksville, Florida.

Now World Woods Golf Club, at the time it had the word “resort” tagged to the end. This, despite no resort as far as the eye could see, or even a clubhouse for that matter. We paid green fees at a trailer and stayed the night afterward at a nearby hotel where there might have been a few extra guests in the room – multi-legged ones of the unwanted variety.

It did not matter though because what we found there when it came to golf at World Woods has continued to be top of mind for me for nearly a quarter century. I recommend it to anyone who plays golf and is planning to wander within an area code of it.

Yes, they never built out beyond the original golf courses but what did exist then (an now) was more than enough to get our respect and attention.

Home to two distinctly different Tom Fazio layouts, Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks, both play a soft homage to Pine Valley and Augusta National, respectively.  The reality is that they stand on their own, without the comparison really necessary. Add in a 9 hole short course, three full-size practice holes, and one of the largest practice facilities in the world (all 23 acres of it) and you have golfing Nirvana.

World Woods has been no stranger to winning awards through the years and justifiably so. It may not be as close to major Florida centres as many would hope but in reality, that is part of it’s charm. It’s a pure golf experience in a state that is littered with a lot of homogenized “variations” of the sport.

It’s isolated; rugged; beautiful. From a golf standpoint it is plain fulfilling and now, with actual villas nearby that you can use as a base for golf packages, it makes good on promises from decades ago.

Seek it out. I assure you that like me, you’ll be talking (and writing) about it for years to come.