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Mickylee Pitch & Putt exceeds expectations

Originally written by Jean Racine of The Villages Daily Sun

Not much more than an hour into existence, the new Mickylee Pitch & Putt already had its first hole-in-one. Tom Turner, of the Village of McClure, staked out a slice of history when The Villages’ newest golf offering opened to the public Saturday. A wedge from 62 yards away at the 11th hole put him in the books. “One hop and in the hole. That’s all there was to it,” said Turner, who not surprisingly spoke highly of Mickylee’s layout.

“Love it. Very nice greens,” he continued. “I used to think Southern Oaks (Golf Club) had the best greens, and then Richmond (Pitch & Putt) came along and I thought they were the best. Now these might be the best. Very nice. Nice little walk, too. We enjoyed it.”

Mickylee, off Meggison Road in what’s now the far southeast corner of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown, features 18 holes ranging from 45 to 112 yards.

“It’s a really fun golf course,” said Tyler Krager, Southern Oaks’ head PGA professional. “It’s going to be a good place for beginners to come out and learn the game, but also our advanced players to come out and practice their short game.”

With a few more bunkers and a couple of challenging tee shots, Mickylee also figures to be somewhat more of a challenge than its pitch-and-putt predecessors at Richmond and Marsh View.

“(Holes) 2 and 10, you’re hitting over a forced carry; you’re hitting over water,” said Krager. “Number 18 is 112 yards, so people have to be prepared to have that club in their bag. It’s a little bit longer than the rest of them.”

Saturday’s opening also raises the total count in The Villages to 747 holes of golf.

Tim and Patty Becker, of the Village of St. Catherine, were part of Saturday’s second group to finish the course.

“We had a great time,” said Tim. “We’ve been looking forward to this opening up. It was very well put together. We’re excited because we live close. We’ll be using this one a lot.”

Both Patty and fellow playing partner Jolene Fawcett, of the Village of Chitty Chatty, said Mickylee already has given them one of their best rounds of golf.

“It was awesome,” Patty said. “Great time. Golfed really good; got a birdie. Almost got a hole-in-one on hole Number 3, which would’ve been my third hole-in-one in a year. I didn’t, but it was close.” Fawcett said: “I had my best round I think of any (rounds) on all the pitch-and-putts. I just was like par, par, par, par, birdie — that’s not normal for me. It was cold out, but it all came together.”

It certainly did for Turner, who recorded his fifth hole-in-one since moving to The Villages four years ago from Kansas City, Missouri.

“It’s a really nice, challenging little course,” said Turner, who took up the game some 30 years ago. “Really good (place) to work on your short game. You’ve got some nice slope and greens. They had some pins on some slopes; you’ve got to hit them in there close to get them to stay.”

Joe Cavallaro, of the Village of St. Catherine, was playing with Turner on Saturday and got to witness Mickylee’s first ace.

“I think it’s a great little course,” Cavallaro said. “I’ll be coming back. It’s in very nice condition. The greens are nice and fast.”

Mickylee is designed in two nine-hole loops, bringing golfers back to the starter shack at the midway point.

“If you’re tired, if it’s warm, if you just want to play nine, that’s an easy option out here,” Krager said. “But there’s plenty of water and plenty of sand bunkers and a lot of undulation. A lot of slopes around the greens that should make it a lot of fun for everybody.”