Hello From Orlando - Golf's Ultimate Theme Park
My husband loves playing golf and I am myself am pretty decent at the sport. So it was a given that we would be playing a few rounds in Orlando. We had a chance to sample a number of golf courses first-hand and got a personal appreciation of the great number and variety of golf courses in the Orlando area. I had a chance to talk with Mike Jamison from Golf Orlando to get a better overview of the extensive golf facilities that the Orlando area has to offer. 1. Orlando is not only the world's No.
1 vacation destination, but it is also called "Golf's Ultimate Theme Park". Please tell us more about that. Isn’t it interesting how sometimes the most obvious answer to a tough question is sitting right before your eyes, yet it takes you days, months, even years to see it? Officials of the marketing co-op GolfOrlando realized that recently when they finally nailed the perfect marketing tag line for their 25-course organization. For years the group had wrestled with various themes that might set Orlando apart from its competition in the golf destination wars. Then one day a member asked a question – “What is Orlando known for?” The obvious answer? Theme parks.
Orlando is the world’s No. 1 vacation destination, and the incredible collection of theme parks plays the leading role. It was at that moment that the perfect theme line crystallized – “GolfOrlando – Golf’s Ultimate Theme Park.” It is a nice fit not only because of the foundation of Orlando’s vacation pitch – theme parks - but also because it reflects the incredible diversity of the Central Florida golf landscape. Golf in Orlando provides its own type of outdoor adventure. 2. Please tell us about the types of golf courses that are available in the Orlando area. Looking for a taste of the U.? How about Royal St.
Cloud, where every hole transfers you to the fabled courses of the British Isles, and where the 2004 and 2005 British Junior Amateur was conducted? Try a couple of very popular Ron Garl designs for a Scottish touch. Eagle Creek, located near the Orlando International Airport, offers open, rolling fairways, large, undulating greens and those dangerous revetted bunkers that dot the landscape in Scotland. Eagle Creek was recently ranked among the top 10 new courses of the decade in Florida by Golf Travel & Leisure, and is the first par 73 course in Orlando and the first to use Mini Verde greens. On the north side of Orlando is Timacuan Golf & Country Club, ranked as high as No. 14 in Florida by one statewide publication. Its front side offers up a true taste of Scotland, while the back 9 takes on a more Carolinas low Country feel. Hole 2, a long water-dominated par 4, was recently named the 2nd most difficult hole in Central Florida by an area publication. Timacuan is a locals’ favorite. A very similar routing by Arnold Palmer awaits you on the south side of town. The Legends at Orange Lake opened in 1998 and features a Scottish style front nine (The Links) and a tree-lined back nine (The Pines).
The feature holes are the 610-yard 4th on the Links nine and the 432-yard 13th, called the Island Oak. In need of drama? How about Diamond Players Club in Clermont, where the elevation changes are so spectacular that the track is often referred to as “Florida’s mountain course.” You’ll need to buckle up when tackling Mystic Dunes’ green complexes. They offer up slopes that drop as much as 10 feet, and you might find an elephant’s trunk poking out of a few serious mounds. Also, several of the fairways feature whiskey barrel bunkers as guideposts. This Gary Koch-designed course personifies the word “adventure,” as does Highlands Reserve, a roller coaster-like golf experience with elevation changes of 120 feet and dramatic scenery. Further south on Highway 27 is Steve Smyers’ Southern Dunes, another course that features elevation change uncommon in Central Florida. Combined with the abundance and creativity of the bunkering, it is easy to understand while Southern Dunes is ranked among the To 100 Modern Day Courses” by Golfweek. Excitement? Falcon’s Fire by Rees Jones has a couple of thrillers, especially its cape hole, the par 4 13th. This one dares you to bite off more than you can chew, and while it is tempting to rip a big tee shot toward the green, the money play is to safely land your ball into the slender fairway utilizing a more forgiving angle and a fairway wood.
If you are a traditionalist, the options are boundless. Shingle Creek is the newest of the traditional Florida layouts, bordered by dense oaks and pines in a backdrop along historic Shingle Creek. Location is another benefit as it rests near the major tourist areas. Harmony is a Johnny Miller design that falls into this category. Its’ strength lies in the greens complexes that feature angular bunkering creating a variety of challenging pin placements. Ridgewood Lakes provides a beautiful cruise through the hardwoods off Highway 27, and tops off the journey with an awesome finishing hole. How about a stroll though nature? Stonegate Golf Club, designed by Ron Garl, rests upon 3,300 acres of pristine wetlands, woodlands and 100-year-old oak hammocks, and places the emphasis on the short game. Mike Dasher’s North Shore looks as if it should be located deep in the country as it sits comfortably amidst lush surroundings, yet it is conveniently located seven miles from Orlando International Airport. Diamondback, a Joe Lee design located in Haines City, was carved from 240 acres of virgin forest and offers dramatically rolling fairways bordered by dense trees, pristine natural wetlands, and well-positioned water hazards.
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