Old school, new school: Jacaranda, Hollywood Beach Golf Resort offer contrasting styles in south Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Some say Spring Break for college kids was born here in 1960 when Connie Francis took to the beach in the hit, "Where the Boys Are," and the movie zeroed in on a beach bar named the Elbo Room. It was party central.

Today the Fort Lauderdale area is where the travel golf options are. It is just 23 miles north of Miami, its warm and sunny year around and the beaches are pristine.

Two options, Jacaranda Golf Club's 36-hole modern complex, and the traditional Hollywood Beach Golf Resort, a 1924 Donald Ross design, are so different it's like going from an upscale contemporary transformation to a bygone era.

Jacaranda Golf Club in Plantation

Bobby Weed led a $10 million renovation to Jacaranda's East Course and West Course. Landscaping was a point of enhancement along with new Paspalum fairways and work done on tees, greens, bunkers and irrigation systems.

"Conditioning is always super," General Manager Danny Howard said. "We've been here since 1971 and have strived to be superior in customer service."

The East Course (7,245, par 72) is rated four stars by Golf Digest and is challenging off the tee, high on game management and the Tif-Dwarf greens have subtle breaks. Weed created a course exceptional in its bunkering, collection areas surrounding the greens and a multitude of shot options for the short game.

Jacaranda's West Course (6,778, par 72) is also rated four stars by Golf Digest and has been traditionally labeled a shot-maker's golf course. Avoid the lagoons, negotiate the doglegs and miss the bunkers that tighten landing areas, and you can score here, but the green complexes can be challenging.

Instead of setting up a base inland in south Florida, do a beach-side vacation staying at Lago Mar Resort and Club, a classic in Fort Lauderdale, with 500 feet of private beach just outside my poolside luxury suite. It's right next door to where the cruise ships dock and head out to sea.

It was a heavenly stay at Lago Mar. I left a weeklong snow and ice storm back in Texas and traded it in on a week of 80-degree days on the beach and golf courses of the greater Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. Call (855) 209-5677 for reservations or see www.lagomar.com.

Hollywood Beach Golf Resort in Hollywood

Drive onto the grounds of Hollywood Beach Golf Resort, and you will think you have gone back in time. First of all, it is a 1924 Donald Ross gem and absent of valet parking and five-star frills. This is my kind of place.

"Hollywood Beach is a throwback golf experience," said Josh McCumber, who defeated Tigers Woods in an NCAA tournament as a Florida Gator. Josh, general manager and director of golf, is PGA Tour player Mark McCumber's nephew, who participates in the McCumber Golf Academy.

Slightly elevated greens, false fronts and greens that fall off in all directions are Donald Ross trademarks, and just imagine Gene Sarazen on the same tee box you are standing along with many greats of the game. Even President Warren G. Harding, on a winter vacation, teed it up on March 13, 1923, when it was just nine holes.

Hollywood Beach (6,376 yards, par 70) is a must for the Ross devotee, and a stay in the 30-room motel is convenient if you just want to relax and stay on the grounds, which includes a swimming pool.

Rudy's Pub and Restaurant is a popular spot to dine and discuss your round on an affordable buddy trip. Stay and play packages are the way to go. Log on to hollywoodbeachgolfresort.com to book your stay.

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.
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Old school, new school: Jacaranda, Hollywood Beach Golf Resort offer contrasting styles in south Florida