Venetian Bay is a must-play golf course if you're anywhere near the New Smyrna Beach area, especially if you're one of those golfers who loves big, bold layouts where you can swing your driver like you're Babe Ruth.
It's a fairly new (2008) and very interesting design by the Clifton, Ezell and Clifton Golf Design Group, not at all like the average course that sits in a housing development; the holes either have a few houses on only one side and many with no housing at all.
But – and this is a big "but" – the features you really notice as you make your way around the course are its two major obstacles: wind and sand.
The bunkers are everywhere, and the architects weren't afraid to stick them in the middle of fairways, not a unique design point, but pretty rare.
"Just remember there is ample landing area and these are positioned more for low handicappers and drama than to actually kill your round," the architects write on the course's website.
True enough, they are mostly there for visual appeal and, yes, intimidation. They are easily avoided, for the most part, if you are reasonably accurate. Many of the bunkers are elevated, built into mounds, and you can face blind shots into the green if you find yourself behind one.
The wind is part of Venetian Bay's personality, as it comes sweeping across the vast, open expanse, and it must be dealt with. Personally, I enjoy playing in the wind, and regulars out here say it blows steadily most of the time. Bonus: It keeps you cool during the warm months.
The greens are excellent, large and sloped with just enough undulation to keep putts interesting. The architects took what was formerly a flat, piece of land and turned it into flowing, dynamic terrain perfect for golf, especially if you like links-style golf.
Big hitters will love this course. Heck, little hitters will love it if they play from the correct tees. The conditioning is excellent throughout, and the sumptuous clubhouse has great views of the course.
Again, this is a course you should play if you're in New Smyrna Beach, or even if you're not. It's definitely worth the travel time.
Be sure to check the video, and remember, these are drought conditions the course is dealing with. The course greens up beautifully as soon as there's a drop of rain.