Florida Historic Golf Trail: Railroads

by | Dec 22, 2023 | Where to Play

Florida Historic Golf Trail: Trains Run Right Through It

Over the last 100+ years, Florida’s development can largely be attributed to the ambition of the late Henry Flagler and Henry Plant.  One of the keys to both Flagler’s and Plant’s successes was their strategic use of the railroad.  Not only did the railroad bring people to Florida, it was the key to the growth of many of its golf courses, as is explained in the book The Two Henrys – Railroads Carry Golf Across Florida.

When you look at the current list of 53 golf courses that are part of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, there are interesting tales to tell about each golf course.  For instance, Riviera Country Club in Ormond Beach has Sissy’s Ridge, Miami Shores Country Club in Miami Shores has “The Hole,” and Lake Worth Municipal Golf Club in Lake Worth has a monument to honor “The Dogfighters.”  And, many of these golf courses in Florida were built because of the railroad.

When you play the Clearwater Country Club, a passing train may well interrupt your round.  Twice a day, a train rolls through the middle of the golf course, traveling along the CSX Railroad.

The railroad track theme along the Florida Historic Golf Trail continues at the South Course at the Daytona Beach Golf Club, which was designed by Donald Ross and opened for play in 1921.  A passing train is a common sight on this golf course since railroad tracks separate the 4th, 5th, and 6th holes from the main golf course.  Those same railroad tracks bordered the 12th, 13th, and 14th holes on their right.  By the way, the railroad tracks are clearly marked as being out of bounds.

“It is one of the few courses in America that still has a train running through the middle of the course,” said Brian Jaquet, director of golf at Daytona Beach Golf Club.

At the Bartow Golf Course, a CSX train borders the 8th fairway.  According to the pro shop at Bartow GC, a CSX train rolls by “several times a day,” but the presence of the train does not impact play.  It’s just part of the atmosphere of playing golf in Bartow.

While playing the Winter Park Golf Course, aka the Winter Park Nine, when you are near the area of the 5th tee, 6th green, and 7th tee, you may well see a train from either Sun Rail or AMTRAK roll past.  The train will not impact play, but the sight of the passing train is part of the Winter Park Nine experience.

It’s worth noting that inside the clubhouse of the Winter Park Nine, the ceiling beams feature a timeline of the club’s historical moments.  The timeline describes significant events during this club’s first 100+ years and features a list of people who have helped shape this golf course’s first century of play.  A large clock next to the first tee reminds all golfers to be on time for their tee time.

So, while golf course architects like Donald Ross, Seth Raynor, and Tom Bendelow designed and oversaw the construction of these golf courses, the railroad’s development, under Flagler and Plant’s leadership, made it all possible.

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About the Author

<a href="https://golfonemedia.com/author/mike_may/" target="_self">Mike May</a>

Mike May

Mike May is a freelance golf writer based in Wellington, Florida. Mike, a frequent golfer, and travel writer is the editor-in-chief of the Indiana Golf Journal, a correspondent for Golf Central Magazine, a senior writer for Team Insight Magazine, a contributor to Midwest Golfing Magazine, and a correspondent for both the Michigan and Ohio Golf Journals. He is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Mike traces his roots as a golf writer to The 1983 (British) Open Championship which was held at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club near Southport, England. He attended all four days of the event and then voluntarily wrote his own account of that major championship. In addition to being a golf writer, Mike is a broadcaster for high school sports in Florida, officiates high school soccer in Florida, and works in the scoring division of R2 Innovative Technologies, which implements and oversees scoring at LPGA golf tournaments. As an avid exercise enthusiast, he also serves on the board of directors of PHIT America, which is focused on bringing daily P.E. back to all U.S. schools. Mike is a 1985 graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned a degree in broadcasting. Mike can be reached by email at: mmaymarketing@gmail.com