JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are plenty of places to lose a ball at Cimarrone Golf Club, located along the southern border of the city just 10 minutes from the World Golf Village.
All 18 holes feature water or wetland of some type. Architect David Postlethwait took what the Florida swamp gave him and did his best to make Cimarrone more forgiving than its tough-guy image implies. There are few forced carries. And with five sets of tees, players can move up if things start to go sour.
"It is definitely challenging having the marsh or water on every hole," said Assistant Golf Professional Mike Renn. "That’s the biggest draw for people. It is a challenge."
Most players choose the white tees since there's more fairway to work with from 6,103 yards. The 6,553-yard blue tees bring length and intimidation into play.
"Out here, if you are struggling off the tee, you should be up further to take the water out of play," Renn said. "For the average golfer, it is one of the harder courses (in the area) because it is so tight."
It isn't just the water that defends par. Cimarrone's greens are smaller than many modern courses. Scoring requires precision and staying on the proper side of the hole.
Postlethwait doesn't waste any time in testing a player's nerves. With a strong drive off the first tee, it's decision time. Players can shoot directly to the green tucked behind a pond or layup along the left side for a safer approach with a wedge in hand.
The par-3 second, the narrow, par-4 third and the short sixth tend to intimidate right-handed slicers with water up the starboard side. The par 4s at No. 7 and No. 8 feature water left just to mix things up a bit. The ninth and 17th are similar 135-yard shots from the whites over marsh.
The best hole comes at No. 10, a severe dogleg right. The second requires a daunting approach over a pond to a green that slopes hard back to front. Back-to-back par 5s at No. 13 and No. 14 can relinquish birdie or double bogey. The 439-yard 18th remains one of Jacksonville's toughest finishing holes with water in play off the tee and a marsh protecting the green.
"The layout I love," said Harold Ford, a local who plays the course regularly. "It's always in good shape."