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Bent Creek Golf Course in Jacksonville, Florida: A municipal course disguised as something far more

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you didn't know any better, you'd think Bent Creek Golf Course is an expensive resort course. After all, it's designed by acclaimed artisan Bobby Weed and managed by Billy Casper Golf. The course itself is immaculate and the greens are smooth and true.

So it likely will come as quite a surprise that it's a municipal course owned by the city of Jacksonville.

The course should be the poster child for municipal courses done well. The staff is attentive and courteous, the course is creative and engaging and the green fees are very reasonable. Another nice aspect of the course is that it's very walkable.

As for the course itself, it's a lot of fun with a medley of hazards that will make you smile.

"If there's water on the right, everything will funnel right," said Corey Morris, assistant golf professional. "It's a shot-makers' course."

Take the fifth hole, for example. At the tee you're looking at a bunker right in your face, another one farther up on the left and water all along the right. The only course of action, really, is to fly that first bunker and avoid everything else. It's a bit of a tall order because the landing area isn't that generous. At the green, the water creeps closer and there's a bunker behind the green. That's a lot to pack into a par 4.

It's a similar situation at No. 12, only this time the water is on the right and you have to find the fairway from an angle with bunkers on the far side.

You'll also notice that if you stray to one side of the fairway or another, there often is a tree precisely in your way. How do they do that? Are those trees on conveyors, or what?

The back nine has only one par 5 (No. 15), but it's a doozy. From the front tees, you have a blind tee shot over a bunker and just to the right of some trees. Don't go too far, because there's another bunker farther up on the right. For your second shot, you have to place it just so to have the right length to clear a marsh for your approach. The green, after all of that, is narrow but long and surrounded by a bunker short and right and mounds everywhere else.

Then, once your adrenalin is flowing after that hole, there is a slip of a par 3, only 122 yards from the middle tees, to a green sharply sloped toward a bunker that wraps about a concave turf bunker.

Thankfully, the last two holes are what would be considered normal on other courses.

Bent Creek is a delightful course where the creativity of the holes gives you a sense of adventure because you never know what's next.

There are some things you can count on, though: a friendly staff and excellent conditions.

Making your way around Bent Creek Golf Course is a fun journey you won't want to end.

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