EAGLE SPRINGS GOLF COURSE:
IT HAS COME A LONG WAY, BABY!

Story by: Mike May

The roots of the Eagle Springs Golf Course (171 Country Club Lane, DeFuniak Springs, Florida) can be traced to the early 1920s when the McKaskils Golf Course was first opened.  This golf course was constructed at the urging of a group of progressive-thinking local businessmen who realized that a golf course would attract visiting tourists to their community, especially during the winter months.  But, sadly, this golf course had a short existence.

By 1928, Eagle Springs Golf Course was officially listed as a nine-hole Florida golf course -- which played to 3,140 yards.

In 1924, local resident Mr. W.B. Harbeson of the Harbeson Lumber Company donated 160 acres of land and provided the funds for a nine-hole golf course to be built.  Under the leadership of Harbeson’s son, Walter Harbeson, 40 acres of land had been cleared, stumped, leveled, and covered in Bermuda and carpet grass by August 1924.  Good quality turf was expected to have taken root by Christmas of that year.  Walter Harbeson’s goal was to have the golf course open for play by January 1, 1925, however the exact date of the golf course opening remains unknown.

By 1928, this golf course was officially listed as a nine-hole Florida golf course -- which played to 3,140 yards.

Fast forward to 1930.  According to the 1930-1931 American Annual Golf Guide, the DeFuniak Country Club was listed as a nine-hole, par-36 golf course with sand greens, which played to 3,347 yards. Walter Harbeson was listed as the club president. In 1934, 40 Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) workers were brought in to enlarge the tees, improve the greens, and build a practice putting green, along with a number of other course renovations. For reasons unknown, the DeFuniak Country Club was closed in the late 1930s or early 1940s. The exact date of the closure remains unknown. 

Backed by a number of local golf enthusiasts, the DeFuniak Country Club was reorganized and reopened in 1945.  There was a new club president.  It was Charles King. Club members implemented fundraising efforts to build a new clubhouse and rebuild the fairways and greens. The golf course remained a nine-hole layout until 1997.

Fast forward to 2019.  In April 2019, Walton County purchased the former DeFuniak Springs Country Club and the surrounding property.  This 190-acre site included an 18-hole golf course, public swimming pool, and clubhouse. The golf course was renamed the Eagle Springs Golf Course and Recreational Center.

According to Public Works Manager Shane Supple, more changes are on the way.

This golf course has some design characteristics which will make it enticing for golfers of all levels.

“We have put close to $500,000 in this facility to upgrade it with another $1.2 million coming over next few years to pay for a new irrigation system and new greens,” added Supple.

Future expansion plans include building fishing docks, walking trails, basketball courts, and tennis courts. 

Not surprisingly, the Eagle Springs Golf Course is part of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, which features 53 golf courses in the state of Florida – from Key West to Pensacola.

“We’re trying to make it a recreational facility where people can come out there to enjoy time with the family and be outdoors,” stated Supple.  “It’s safe and not too expensive.”

This golf course has some design characteristics which will make it enticing for golfers of all levels.

“The fun parts of this golf course are dealing with the many elevation changes and the many different looking holes,” added Supple.

The ‘signature hole’ at Eagle Springs is the 12th hole, which is a risk-reward hole with water bordering the left side of this hole – alongside the fairway up to the green.

Supple is also quick to note that Eagle Springs has enough open space so that it should be somewhat easy to find your golf ball if it veers off the fairway into the rough.

In an effort to increase local participation in golf, all junior golfers age 15 or younger get to play the course for free.

To make a tee time at the Eagle Springs Golf Course, call the pro shop at 850-892-3812.

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