7 years in the development and a brainchild of Canadian developer Frank Stronach, Adena Golf and Country Club, located just north of Ocala, should easily rival the heralded Streamsong golf courses.

Opening recently last July, the initial thrust to build a world class golf course began back in 2008 and was carefully crafted yard by yard by Stronach, himself, who is neither a golf course architect nor a landscape designer. No, there is no pedigree of a well-known architect. Rather, Stronach is a man of vision, of purpose, and has the financial wherewithal to see his concepts evolve.

The name Adena refers to what were probably a number of related Native American societies sharing a burial complex and ceremonial system. Stronach amassed his fortune in auto parts manufacturing, founding Canadian giant Magna International, a $35 billion automotive parts supplier. Owner of several racetracks, including Santa Anita in California and Gulfstream Park in Florida, Stronach is a successful thoroughbred horse breeder with farms located in Central Florida and throughout the USA.

Investing somewhere north of $50 million, I am told Stronach envisions his venture will attract professional golf’s elite and possibly host a PGA event. The course has been designed around several abandoned lime rock and spring fed quarries on about 420 acres with elevation changes approaching some 90 feet. The landscaped views are dramatic and ever changing as you play your way throughout the course. Dramatic waterfalls provide a powerful setting looking back at the clubhouse. The quarry lakes are a vivid blue green and accommodate a variety of birds.

The key to playing the course is to choose the right tees. If your handicap is 12+, I’d recommend playing 5,885 yards from the white tees. It’ll still be a very good test of golf but you’ll have an opportunity to score well. Players that can card in the mid to low 80s should be able to negotiate the blue tees at 6,384 yard but not without some tense moments. Finally, you better be a strong single digit handicap if you want to score well from the black tees  rating  74.2 with a 140 slope. Don’t even think about playing from the 7,086 yard stallion tees unless you’re a member of the PGA.

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Marion County is well known for its majestic, moss-draped live oaks and, in tune, Adena frames the first couple of fairways on the front nine with a number of these picturesque granddaddy trees.  Then you play your way into and around the quarry holes showcased on 10 of the remaining 16 holes. Arriving at the par three 8th tee box, you’ll want to grab your camera. Way down below, some 200+ yards away, over a colorful quarry lake and through the swirling wind, you’re hitting to a narrow and well contoured green. Bogey may well be the new par on this hole.

While the front nine tends to lure you into a state of tranquility, the back nine will test your skills, your patience, and your endurance. Forced carries, thought-provoking fairway shots, and challenging greens complexes will test your every sense of what it takes to score well.

What you see everywhere on the Adena course is a vast, unique, and breathtaking piece of property that has safeguarded the balance of nature and the environment.  It’s what you don’t see that makes Adena a world class facility:

Underground soil moisture sensors monitor water levels to eliminate wasteful irrigation
A stormwater collection and reuse program irrigates the course and landscaping
An Integrated Pest Management Program eliminates unsound plant protectants
Hybrid fairway mowers reduce reliance on fossil fuels
A maintenance staff is charged with a responsibility to pledge perfection

These are the demands of Adena’s colorful owner and are implemented by Asa High, senior director of golf course operations. High was recruited from Augusta National where he was the senior assistant superintendent and learned from the crème de crème of golf course superintendents.

Being so new, Adena is not rich in history like so many of Florida’s showcase golf courses. But it promises to be one of Florida’s 5 best modern courses and easily a top 50 courses in the entire country.

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John Mooshie, a freelance journalist from Wakulla Springs, Florida,
has an insatiable curiosity for almost
everything and writes on a broad range of golf, travel, and
golf fashions for various magazines, newspapers, 
e-zines, and websites. Formerly an ad agency and billboard
copywriter, he switched careers, co-designed
an 18 hole golf course, and now writes reviews on both golf course
resorts and destination spas.. He is
currently conducting research to write biographical sketches about
individuals and businesses that fly
below the radar and will soon publish a golf book  promising to cure
the five bad shots in golf.