Golf in Orlando – Designed By Legends, Legendary By
The grass actually is always greener on
the 168 challenging golf courses in Orlando. From links-style layouts
reminiscent of golf’s birthplace, Scotland, to lake-strewn narrow
designs that require accuracy and ingenuity, Orlando’s golf courses
provide something for each type of golfer, whether the seasoned
professional or the Sunday hacker. With an array of world-renowned golf
academies, PGA TOUR tournaments, Edwin Watts merchandise outlets, the
Golf Channel, Golfweek magazine, PGA Merchandise Show and practice
facilities, the destination is a virtual golfer’s haven.
- Duration: Flexible
- Location: Orlando,
When stepping onto many of the area’s courses, visitors
find that the holes have been touched by golf legends. The game’s
greatest, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Tom
Watson, have played a part in building world-class layouts in Orlando.
Some of history’s best golf course architects, such as Robert Trent
Jones Sr., Robert Trent Jones Jr., Joe Lee, Rees Jones, Pete Dye and Tom
Fazio, have also created many of the area’s most challenging and
rewarding golf course designs. Depending on the day and the score,
golfers either curse or praise these golf luminaries for their testing,
yet aesthetically pleasing courses.
PGA superstars Vijay Singh,
John Daly and Tiger Woods regularly battle it out at Orlando’s two
annual tournaments, the Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard in
March and the FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort in October.
Additionally, Orlando has the Father/Son Challenge and the LPGA Ginn
Clubs & Resorts Open. Orlando is also home to The Golf Channel, the
annual PGA Merchandise Show—attracting nearly 50,000 industry
professionals each year—and PGA TOUR pros including Tiger Woods, Arnold
Palmer, Nick Faldo, Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, Ernie Els and Mark
O’Meara, as well as other veterans like Lee Janzen, Scott Hoch, Chris
DiMarco and Jim Thorpe.
Known for his guidance of PGA
professionals, David Leadbetter, voted the second-best instructor in the
nation by Golf Digest in 2004, has made Orlando the world headquarters
of David Leadbetter’s Golf Academy at ChampionsGate. In addition,
Orlando boasts 18 nationally ranked instruction schools including the
Fred Griffin Grand Cypress Academy of Golf, voted one of the top 25 golf
schools in America by Golf Magazine, as well as the Arnold Palmer Golf
Academy at Bay Hill; The Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott; Gary Irby’s
Maximum Performance Golf Academy; Celebration Golf Academy at the
Celebration Golf Club; Mission Inn Golf Academy and Bird Golf Academy at
Mission Inn Resort & Club; Phil Ritson’s Orange County National Golf
Center; Rick McCord’s Orange Lake Resort and Club; and the Graves Golf
Academy at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
If visitors are looking to
enjoy Orlando’s famous theme parks with a round or two of golf, Walt
Disney World Resort awaits them with five championship-caliber courses.
With a total of 99 holes on 775 acres (310 hectares) of the
47-square-mile (122-square-kilometer) property, Walt Disney World Resort
is one of the largest single golf resorts in the country. In addition
to its scenic course landscapes, Disney’s golf program offers a variety
of instructional clinics, training opportunities and well-equipped pro
shops, including leading-edge rental clubs.
Some of the area’s newest golf
course layouts include the courses at Reunion Resort & Club of Orlando,
located 25 minutes south of Orlando, featuring three championship
courses by Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Watson’s
7,257-yard (6,636-meter) Independence course and Palmer’s 6,930-yard
(6,303-meter) Legacy course opened in 2004, while the Nicklaus design is
slated for play in 2006.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club,
Grande Lakes Orlando, which opened in 2003, is nestled between a
pristine nature reserve and a vast luxury resort complex that
encompasses the 1,000-room JW Marriott Orlando, and the 584-room
Ritz-Carlton Orlando. The championship Greg Norman-designed course has
received rave reviews for its layout and attention to detail, and
features a Caddie Concierge program that provides a knowledgeable
professional attendant who offers course strategy, golf club cleaning,
ball location, and golf course education.
The David Harman-designed Shingle
Creek Golf Club, located just east of Orlando’s Orange County Convention
Center, opened in 2004. The course serves as the centerpiece recreation
amenity for Rosen’s Shingle Creek Resort, a 230-acre (93-hectares)
resort scheduled to open in fall 2006. Nearby on International Drive,
Marriott’s Grande Pines Golf Club is a recent addition to the Orlando
golf lineup and provides a formidable challenge to the most skillful of
golfers. The 730-room Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate opened in
October 2004 and features two Greg Norman-designed courses—the
links-style International and the traditional Florida-style National