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Karoo Cabot Citrus Farms

by | Mar 19, 2024 | WHERE TO PLAY

Karoo Callin at Cabot Citrus Farms

Playing the Karoo course at Cabot Citrus Farms leads to this question: Was architect Kyle Franz trying to create or re-create history in North Central Florida?

The answer is, it really doesn’t matter which one you select.  Franz the golf course historian, whose heroes include his old boss Tom Doak, as well as Donald Ross, C.B Macdonald and George Thomas, has variations of each of their designs in Karoo.  Franz the visionary, meanwhile, created a rugged, larger-than-life course (7,562 yards, par 72 from the tips) with multiple fairway options and mesmerizing greens complexes that already make Karoo one of the top courses in the Southeast.

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Kyle Franz at Cabot Citrus Farms

Karoo opened this past January at Cabot Citrus Farms (formerly World Woods Golf Club), the highly-anticipated 1,200-acre property in Brooksville that includes The Squeeze nine-hole course and The Wedge 11-hole course, each Mike Nuzzo designs.  Nuzzo, Franz and  Ran Morrissett  are co-designing Roost, which is set to open June 1.

“I love the National Golf Links (in Southampton, N.Y.),’’ Franz told me. “I’ve always admired Macdonald’s boldness there. That comes out here on this project.’’

Thomas’ influence can particularly be seen with Karoo’s multiple fairways (three on the 489-yard par-four) that create wide routing options for average players, but force better players to hit the right sections of fairways.

“I just tried to mesh and mold things I like into a style that is our own, be creative and really challenge us in ways where we’re not just copying my mentors,’’ Franz said “We’re doing something that’s really fun. We’re pushing the initiative and really taking some risks. Hopefully everyone likes it, enjoys it and walks away saying,  ‘I don’t think I’ve ever played anything like it. It’s pretty cool.’’’

With five sets of tees, Karoo plays as short as 4,223 yards. If there is a criticism, it’s that there are no tee boxes between 6,295 yards and 5,325 yards. On the surface, a  “hybrid’ set of tees would be nice, but Franz subtly built those into the course.

“We really tried to get a tremendous amount of elasticity with the design,’’ Franz said.  “We want Karoo to change every day. We don’t want people to lay up for life. We want to be able to move the tees forward and backward to where it’s a new golf course every day.’’

Like most new golf courses, Karoo is a work in progress, but overall, it’s a course that went from drawing board to ground just as Franz intended.

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“I’m super happy with where it is, but we still have a long way to go,’’ Franz said. “We still have a lot of work with things like seeding native areas and just working on the details. So, we’re really going to get better and continue to improve.  I’m going to spend a lot of time out here watching golfers. I want to see other things we can improve on.’’

Franz smiled.

“I’ve always thought it was cool that when (Doak) finished Pacific Dunes (in 2001 at Bandon Dunes), nothing has ever really changed out there. It’s pretty well nailed. I would hope we nailed it at Karoo.’’

Feature Photo: Karoo (Cabot Citrus Farms)

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About the Author

<a href="https://golfonemedia.com/author/steve_pike/" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the PGA.com website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California. Steve lives in Delray Beach, Fla, and posts his golf and travel content on his website at spikeongolfandtravel.com. He can be reached at spikee41@hotmail.com.