Golf

Florida's first reversible 9-hole golf course opens, part of $8 million facelift


STUART, Fla. — Shirley English’s Friday golf games at the Martin County Golf Course had paused for about a year after the property closed for an $8.2 million facelift.

After pivoting to the Shores of North River Golf Club, the Stuart resident returned Monday morning to the newly named Sailfish Sands Golf Course on Southeast St. Lucie Boulevard.

She was one of the first players to test out the first reversible 9-hole course in the state.

“It was really fun and really beautiful,” English, 90, said. “We were used to the old course. This is different, but it’s very nice.”

The county debuted the 60-acre course, which alternates weekly between clockwise and counterclockwise directions, as the first phase of renovations alongside a driving range with ball-tracing technology. Both routes have a variety of par 3s, 4s and 5s with five sets of tee boxes at each hole for varying skill levels.

English and her peers were one of about 25 groups who reserved tee times Monday for the course, which takes about two hours to finish.

An 18-hole course is set to open in about three weeks after the golf cart paths are finished, said Will Reilly, golf professional at Sailfish Sands.

The reversible 9-hole course opening, originally scheduled for August, was delayed because of contractor issues with labor and the supply chain, said Kevin Abbate, parks and recreation director. This slowed down the $1.4 million parking lot improvements that also were tied to a separate irrigation project.

Still under construction, a 14,000-square-foot clubhouse with a restaurant, full bar and two levels of hitting bays—similar to Topgolf—is expected to be complete in March, Abbate said. A company or restaurateur independent of the county will manage the clubhouse.

In addition to the ball-tracing technology at the driving range, golf carts are outfitted with touch screens that can be used for keeping score. The screens automatically show architectural renderings of each hole when driving by tee boxes.

English and her golf partner, Brenda Susla, said they had hiccups using the technology, specifically with fixing a score for a previous hole.

“I wish there were directions on the cart. (That) would be helpful,” Susla, 75, said of the touch screen. “But it’s pretty easy to do.”

County residents get a 20 percent discount for the reversible 9 course. Depending on the time of day, current rates are $12-$20 for residents and $15-$25 for non-residents. Both of these ranges include golf-cart use.

Buckets for the driving range are about $6 to $19 for all players.

Rates will increase Nov. 8 after daylight saving time, said Mike Saunders, golf course administrator. Residents can play for $30 in the morning and $27 in the afternoon. Respectively, non-residents can play for $37 and $34.

Lina Ruiz is a watchdog reporter for TC Palm, part of the USA Today Network. You can reach her at lina.ruiz@tcpalm.com, on Twitter @Lina_Ruiz48 or at 321-501-3845.



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