Letter to the Editor: Reader asks: Is golf dead in DeLand?

ABANDONED COURSE — The fairways and bunkers of what used to be the Sandhill Golf Course (formerly the Southridge Golf Course) in DeLand are now overgrown and unmaintained. The course shut down in 2017, afrter being purchased by new owners in 2011. Letter-writer and golf advocate Dave Ballesteros laments the loss of courses like Sandhill in his piece. 

 BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO 

Editor, The Beacon: 

For those who have lived here for a while, you might remember the DeLand Country Club. It was an older course, but had a lot of charm and was fun to play. There were some really good holes, beautiful oak trees and nice elevation changes. 

However, it was replaced with a shopping center, storage units and cookie-cutter houses placed so closely together you probably could not even make a full backswing between them! 

I recently drove through that new community and could still recognize certain landmarks from the old course and picture the shots in my head, but, unfortunately, they will never be played again. 

What is even more disheartening is that there is another golf course, right in the middle of town, that will soon look very much the same. 

Southridge was a course on Euclid Avenue that longtime residents probably remember fondly as a place where they could go out for an afternoon round that cost less than $20, or maybe drop their kids to go practice for a few hours after school. 

Sadly, this also may soon be something that will never occur again! 

After purchasing the land in 2011, the owners tried to run it as Sandhill, but shut it down many years ago. The grass is overgrown and buildings are dilapidated, but there is still so much potential. 

However, I recently confirmed that a company is about to start building a mixed-use development on this land, too. 

My question is … do we really need another development? More importantly, are we willing to give up this spot for what it was meant to be … a golf course that is accessible and friendly to players of all types? 

The game of golf is extremely healthy right now, at both amateur and pro levels. Play is up nationwide, which is not going to change anytime soon, because it is one of the safest activities, even during a pandemic, being outdoors in the fresh air. 

There is also a trend to build unique courses, perhaps fewer than 18 holes, that can be played from different angles, which speeds up play and adds variety and fun. 

For years, I have envisioned this type of course at this location, which would cater to everyone, including juniors, seniors and the disadvantaged, to promote the game. 

Part of the property could be made into a fantastic practice facility with short-game areas and a better driving range, perhaps even with lights for an evening activity. 

Lastly, a nice clubhouse with room for weddings, banquets and other special events could be built on the property. 

There are investors I know of who would jump all over this, if given the opportunity. We are in a prime location, and this could be a huge boost to the community. 

However, once it becomes a mixed-use development, which the city is voting to approve in October, we will only have to imagine the shots we would hit there! 

Dave Ballesteros 

DeLand