With over 170 golf courses in and around the Orlando area, getting a tee time isn’t going to be a problem. Figuring out which course you should play, on the other hand, might be. From rolling old-world links courses to picturesque fairways lined with Cypress groves, there’s seemingly a course for every style, skill, or budget. And while you’ll no doubt have time to hit many of them (assuming you don’t shank a tee shot, throw your club in the lake, and give up on golf completely), here are five of the area’s must-play courses to start you off.
Grand Cypress, New Course
then this Jack Nicklaus-designed tribute to Scotland’s famed Old Course is a solid alternative. Light on trees and water, this 18-hole links course boasts “double greens, stone bridges and walls, gorse mounds, burns and pot bunkers as deep as 12 feet” — so yea, you’ll need a ladder to get in and out. As part of the Grand Cypress Resort, it’s connected to three other courses (45 holes total) but play is open to the public and dynamic-priced greens fees are based on availability and demand.
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Challenger/Championship Course
One of Golf Digest‘s 50 best courses in Florida (as well as Golf Magazine’s third best public course in the state), this 27-hole, three-course club (Champion, Challenger and Charger) is set on seven lakes across 270 acres and has played annual host to the PGA’s Arnold Palmer Invitational since 1979. All the big names have hit here, from Ernie Els, to Payne Stewart, to six-time winner Tiger Woods. Arnold Palmer’s winter retreat until his passing this Fall, Bay Hill was renovated in 2009 with redesigned greens and 4 overhauled holes; expect a challenging flat course with a lot of bunkers and breeze.
Set on the Bonnet Creek nature preserve on Walt Disney World property, this scenic 2009 addition to the Waldorf-Astoria Resort was designed by v
ChampionsGate Golf Club
ChampionsGate comprises two dramatically different Greg Norman-designed, 18-hole courses on one property. The International Course is a more traditional Scottish links style with hard surfaces, tall dunes, and deep pot bunkers, while the National is more reflective of the Central Florida landscape — “pine and cypress groves, spring-fed lakes, and bunker protected fairways and greens.” Both provide a challenging day swinging the sticks, capped off by post-round libations, sunset views, and a bagpipe serenade in the clubhouse.