Down here in Tallahassee we like to joke that whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you still have to fly through Atlanta. Sure it takes some work, but when folks finally arrive, it’s easy to feel at home. For those of us who travel with golf bags, Capital City Country Club is a big part of that.
With rolling hills, towering live oaks, and sweeping vistas of what feels like a 200-acre park, my home course is a daydreamer’s paradise. I’ve long wondered what might happen if other like-minded players ever joined me out here. I found out last weekend when a sleek black van with a broken tee emblem rolled into town, followed by golfers from around the country. And despite some classic North Florida weather, it was a better experience than even I hoped for.
After decades of getting left off the lists of golfing tastemakers, word on our A.W. Tillinghast design is finally getting out. Last year, the No Laying Up crew came for a few days to record an episode of their show Strapped; Tom Doak recently gave us a great recommendation in his latest Confidential Guide; and we’ve even popped up on a few rankings of late. With TGJ coming to CCCC, it’s nice to see others finding out what our local golf gang has known for years.
It’s a different kind of Florida. Instead of palm trees and sandy shores, we’ve got Spanish moss and red dirt roads. It’s not riddled with water hazards and track homes. You have to navigate live oaks and uneven lies. As our Broken Tee Society guests discovered, sometimes you also have to navigate a few rain clouds too.
We didn’t have the “chamber of commerce” weather we prefer to show our guests, but we played and drank our way through a little rain and rolling thunder. This wasn’t a crowd deterred by the elements.
Talking with my fellow BTS golf degenerates after the round, it was clear the rain was the least of anyone’s concerns. They were all too busy icing their calves. We walk here, and the hills at Capital City will wear you out, especially if your clubs have been hibernating all winter. You can always spot a CCCC member in town by their combination of toned legs and a well-rounded beer belly.
On foot you will find all the best moments of the golf course. The climb to each hilltop requires a few seconds to rest and catch your breath, and like a lot of clubs, we’ve been working to open up more vistas by removing overgrown brush in the wooded areas. At multiple stops along the way the difference between what our club has been and what it’s becoming is clear.
A decade ago it looked like we might go under, but thanks to some dedicated members and a few good breaks we’ve found our footing again. Like many places in the south, we struggle to reconcile our past, but a new generation of members and local players have helped us forge a brighter future.
In its early days, Capital City was one of the first courses in Florida to encourage women to play. On the other hand, the club’s mid-century segregation policies eventually derailed one member’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court by President Nixon. We’ve hosted some characters over the years. Edward the Duke of Windsor and former King of England used to play here while on quail hunting trips. Jeb Bush was known to sprint over the hills for a quick 18 before tackling his duties as governor. It is probably one of the few courses in America to start private, become a muni, then go private again. Today, we have a Scottish-style model with members and public play intertwining daily.
I could regale people about our club’s history forever, but the BTS crew and I found ourselves talking more about the challenge of playing No. 1 for the first time. With a winding downhill tee shot framed by towering pines to the left and a genuine Florida swamp on the right, there isn’t much room to miss. The shot is made even harder by the galleries that form around the putting green and driving range—both only a few steps away. The approach is steeply uphill and well guarded by a bunker and a dozen or so swales. And if you survive all that, you’re rewarded with a slider on a Lay’s potato chip of a green.
After our damp day of golf, the veranda was full of laughter and storytelling—just the way we like it here. The BBQ was good and the beers were cold. Foster dished out the winnings from our skins game and we watched the sunset with lightning flashes illuminate the North Florida sky. At the end of the night, I made sure to thank everyone.
I told the Broken Tee boys and girls that while Tallahassee may not be an easy place to find, we always appreciate those who make the effort. I apologized for the weather delays and assured everyone their feet wouldn’t be sore for too long. The crowd thinned out as the night got darker, and I sure hated to see that black van pull back onto the road.