Golf Courses


Apart from the Orange Lakes Country Club almost opposite the entrance to our estate, there are over 30 courses within half an hour drive of the house. You may find the following article useful in deciding where to try:

Making the
best of three

days in Orlando

By Derek Duncan, Senior Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- "I'll be in Orlando for three days on business and want to know where to play."

This might be the most asked question in the world of Florida golf travel.

Compiling a list of the area's most popular golf courses would be fairly simple, as would providing a ranking of what the author considers the best pure designs, which often conflicts with the popular list. Instead we offer the following recommendations that take into account everything, from quality of design, to proximity to the greatest concentration of hotels in southwest Orlando, to price, keeping in mind that rates will be up to $50 higher from December to April than in the summer and fall months.

The first options for serious players passing through Orlando might be the esteemed resort courses such as Bay Hill and Grand Cypress Resort, which only allow guest play. For others, golf in Orlando starts and stops at Walt Disney World Resort with its 99 holes and location in the heart of the tourist district. Those looking for game outside these high-profile venues will want to consider these courses that we identify as providing the most return for the least investment of time and money.

1. The Legends at Orange Lake (2 minutes from the house) -- The Legends at Orange Lake is another course that often gets overlooked when accolades are passed out but its design can compete with any in the city. The Legends Course, from Arnold Palmer Course Design, is one of two regulation tracks at Orange Lake Resort, a timeshare community adjacent to Disney World on the south side. It's exceedingly bold and chock full of visceral features and risk/reward shots, a thoroughly macho golf course where the only downside are the rates. (407) 239-1050.

2. Highlands Reserve (10 minutes) --Highlands Reserve is another delightful design by Mike Dasher that hits a perfect niche in the Orlando market. The open and hilly course is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Disney World off Highway 27 in a quiet development. Its best features are the innovative green complexes (check out the Biarritz green at No. 16) and the imminent walkability. (877) 508-4653.

Mystic Dunes3. Mystic Dunes Golf Club (About 10 minutes drive from the house) -- Opened in the summer of 2001, Mystic Dunes is located virtually across the street from Disney World's south entrance. The knock on it is that resort construction is rapidly encroaching on the holes, but the design is one of the most strategic and invigorating in Central Florida. The mind-boggling green complexes, the heart and soul of the course, are simply on another level. Green fees are low in the summer but can climb into the $100's in peak season. (866) 311-1234.

No. 6 at Southern Dunes4. Southern Dunes (15 minutes) --Southern Dunes in Haines City is a little farther away and a little more expensive than Highlands Reserve, but it absolutely belongs on this list since it's one of the most original and outstanding golf courses in Florida. The Steve Smyers design is awash in expressive bunkering and strategic options and there's enough going on between the ropes to keep your eyes off the tract housing lining many of the holes. (863) 421-4653.

5. Orange County National (15 minutes) --This 36-hole complex isn't exactly close to the major hotels but can be quickly accessed by taking county roads 535 or 545 in the back way. David Harman designed the Panther Lake and Crooked Cat courses on wonderfully rolling and scenic topography. OCN's complete isolation is a blessing and the rates are fair for the product. Advance scouting will usually yield package deals and special promotions. (407) 656-2626.



6. MetroWest -- (25 minutes) Until the golf course explosion began in the mid-1990's MetroWest was considered by most to be the finest public access course in Orlando. It's a typically demanding Robert Trent Jones design that's highlighted by surprising elevations and a panoramic view of the downtown skyline on the second nine. Rates have risen recently call for specials), but the course is conveniently located just a matter of miles away from most hotels. (407) 299-1099.

Hawk's Landing7. Hawk's Landing (30 minutes) -- Hawk's Landing is probably the most centrally located golf course in the "tourist" part of town. Originally designed by Joe Lee, architect Bob Cupp gave the course a well-deserved face-lift several years ago. Wrapping around the grounds at the foot of the Marriott Orlando World Center Resort the course if a festival of hazards that demands a strong aerial game, with water in play on 15 holes. It's not cheap but it's as convenient as it gets in Orlando. (407) 238-8660.

8. Diamond Players Club of Clermont (40 minutes) -- Though located roughly 40 minutes west of Orlando DPC Clermont deserves serious consideration because it's so damned fun to play. This course is one of the most unique and adventurous in the state due to rapid elevation changes of 200 feet. Terry LaGree certainly didn't hold back in taking advantage of the exuberant if stark terrain. (352) 243-1729.

9. Lake Orlando (25 minutes) -- Lake Orlando, a mature, flat course with glorious stands of cypress and oak along with plenty of water hazards, is old school Florida golf (1972). It's simple, centrally located off of I-4 north of downtown, and the low rates are next to impossible to beat. If you like tight older courses with character then Lake Orlando is a logical choice. (407) 298-1230.

10. Forest Lake of Ocoee (30 minutes) -- This is one of Orlando's best-kept secrets, a gorgeous, affordable, and engaging course with no homes in sight. Designed by the local firm of Clifton/Ezell/Clifton Forest Lake possesses rich green complexes and one of the finest stretches of holes in town, the marvelous run from 13 to 17. Best of all, the green fees are low. (407) 654-4653.

11. North Shore Golf Club  (About 30 minutes) -- North Shore is the closest golf course to Orlando International Airport, roughly six miles to its southeast. It's a thoughtful, Mike Dasher-designed layout that has something for everyone as the course wanders around wetlands, over old ranch land, into an oak grove, and then back to the clear again. Ever growing in popularity the green fees are still reasonable. (407) 277-9277.