Halifax Plantation Golf Club: A Touch of Serenity in Ormond Beach
Ormond Beach, FL - Halifax Plantation is a place where Southern charm and lifestyle still exists. Everything seems to happen slowly here in the shade amid the hanging oaks. A sense of relaxation settles over the large community development, and visitors can sense the ease at which the tasks of life are undertaken by its residents. Nobody seems to be worrying about anything.
That’s exactly what you’re supposed to think when you come here. As for the golf, The Halifax Plantation Golf Club is a reflection of these calming modes.
Players who want personal challenges, or to experience the rush that accompanies the game in extreme settings, will have to seek bravado elsewhere—Halifax Plantation is about the genteel side of life and golf.
The club is located in the center of this popular community, a couple of exits north of Daytona Beach off of I-95 and Old Dixie Highway. Entering Halifax Plantation is a little like entering an old, sleepy forest as oak and pine suffocate the narrow roads that wind throughout the development.
The community situated against Bulow State Park, not far west of the Halifax River and Intracoastal Waterway, in an area that feels very serene and safe. The golf course is routed in two wide loops to the north and south of the clubhouse taking full advantage of the wooded space in which the Halifax Plantation community is set. The golf here can be as natural as the player wishes it, for this is an easy course to walk and their policies in regard to such are more progressive than most in the area.
The natural state of the golf course is not interfered with by the housing that populates the area. Homes are visible at places throughout the round but almost never do they present themselves directly on the perimeter or outside the deep cover of trees.
Halifax Plantation is open to the public but it also has a strong membership. This gives it a country club atmosphere that is enhanced by its facilities. All the amenities familiar to private golf clubs are available, from the spacious clubhouse, to the health club, to the large outdoors swimming pool, to the Tavern by the Green Restaurant, site of one of the most popular Sunday brunches in the county. Within the club and on the course, the sense of sociality and community is welcoming.
The open and park-like, 7,101-yard golf course (with four optional sets of tees) opened in 1992. If it was Halifax Plantation’s intention to offer a gentle, sociable course, they could not have done better in choosing architect Bill Amick to design it. Amick, based in Daytona Beach, is a common name in this region and his design firm is the oldest in the state (since 1959).
Amick has always been a unique golf course designer amongst his contemporaries, noted for his consistency of style and refusal to blindly follow industry trends. His belief that golf should be a recreational sport readily available and enjoyable to all comers is as sincere today as it was forty years ago.
Perhaps realizing that the intrinsically frustrating game is only complicated by difficult, tricked up layouts, Amick has chosen to design courses that satisfy more of a populist common denominator. His courses are generally spacious, though not long and easy to dissect visually, with hazards placed well to the sides of the fairways and large open greens. A criticism would be that they are frequently underwhelming, but the fact that he has remained faithful to his principles of accessibility and generosity throughout his career is admirable.
Because these principles limit what he can include in a design, his courses usually exhibit common traits and a common feel, so a 1970 layout may seem quite similar to a newer one. This gives an air of maturity to all his courses in spite of their age, and Halifax Plantation is no exception. In fact it may embody this characteristic moreso than most: Halifax seems as if its been situated on this land far longer than its nine years. The course, like the entire community, exudes an air of permanence.
The trees are set well back of the fairways, which are gracious and run into the open-fronted greens. Water comes into play (barely) on two holes and there is only one minor carry (the approach on 12). The bunkering, as with many Amick courses, is kept to a sensible minimum to go along with the theme of accommodation. The bunkers are placed to guide to the player here and there and are not of the penal variety. Occasionally they are used for a strategic effect, but more often he’s placed them for visualization and to “capture” errant shots.
The real question is whether this type of design can also be compelling. Does Halifax Plantation manage to successfully assuage all levels of golfers and also rise above banality?
Of course it depends on how much you ask for from a course, but there is plenty of solid golf to be found on the grounds and enough intrigue in the greens to keep even the most demanding players interested.
The greens, which are large and severely undulating, are the highlights of Halifax Plantation. For all the care Amick is known for taking to not overtax the long handicap player, he is not shy about shaping his greens. These feature wonderful, natural seeming contours that make for gleeful putting.
Rather than create distinct tiers and uneven, planed levels, Amick rolls his surfaces here as if on wheels to make the slopes rise and fall and slip. Granted, some greens are more severe (read: exciting) than others, but certainly the first, second, third, sixth, ninth, and sixteenth are capable of offering some beguiling pin placements.
The fun putting surfaces and the largish, opaque bunkers might also possibly remind some of the green complexes found in a Perry Maxwell design, with a little more back-to-front pitch and a little less roll.
Away from the greens, the layout is at its most desirable when it plays against the edges of the state park and outside the heart of the development, holes six through nine and twelve through fifteen. These holes are exclusively golf, uninterrupted and attractive.
Six is a gorgeous, bunkerless par three, 231 yards from the back markers. The green is enormous, raised above the fairway, and its sizable movements can be discerned even at its full distance. This hole is deserving of mention primarily because of its green, but also because of its beauty, set deep in a grove of towering oak.
The seventh shows the most potential because it features inventive contouring in the fairway to a degree lacking on every other hole. From the tee, it seems a straightforward 418-yard par four with one bunker left of the landing area and trees wide to both sides. After the drive is played, however, the humps and small hillocks that kick everything right toward a small stream become evident. This type of shaping seems perfectly natural, and once witnessed, it is the flattish fairways on the rest of the course that seem mildly out of place.
The 14th and 15th are the strongest representatives on the return nine. Fourteen is the longest par four on the course, an intimidating 474 yards from the tips. Drives are played out to a giant field of fairway surrounded by trees; the green is around the corner to the left. A single bunker guards its left side. Length and the green contours are the primary difficulties, and into the wind this can be a three-shot hole.
Fifteen is also well done, a short par four of just 350 yards. Two bunkers lie at the inside and outside elbows of the landing area where the hole bends left. Two more bunkers protect the entrance to the green, but the key to the hole is deciding how brave to be with the drive.
The smooth design of Halifax Plantation fits nicely with this popular club’s personality. Though it may lack some verve—and one can find that at numerous nearby courses—there is plenty of room in the Daytona Beach area for a course of this style. It’s actually more rare to find a course that can offer such a comfortable style of golf. In this way Halifax Plantation is a success on its own terms.
Green Fees: Affordable rates are also a plus. In-season fees are $40 and off-season the charge is $25. Call the pro shop to confirm. There may be an additional charge for a cart.
Location: Halifax Plantation is located less than one mile east of I-95 off of Old Dixie Highway. Turn south into the development on Acoma Drive and follow the signs to the clubhouse.
Daytona Beach, only minutes away, is a giant sprawl of hotels so lodging should not be hard to find. Some smaller, quieter hotels and motels with ocean views are located along Highway A-1-A between Ormond Beach and Flagler to the north.
Walkability: Halifax Plantation is a very walkable course, and walking is permitted at certain times.