Orlando Golf Courses: Top 8 Greens for Great Games
While it may best be known as the home of Disney World delights, Orlando and its immediate environs offer golfers 110 courses within a 45-mile range. It’s a kid-in-a-candy-shop selection for true golf lovers. In fact, many PGA Tour pros make Orlando their home, due to the wealth of options for practice play when not on tour. Additionally, Orlando has more topographical diversity than any other part of the Sunshine State, utilizing acreage from former orange groves, farmland, wetlands, and occasional undulating terrain to present an array of golfing opportunities. To see the best, here are the top Orlando golf courses.
Top 8 Orlando Golf Courses Players Can’t Miss
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Open only to club members and registered guests staying at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, this 27-hole layout sweeps across 270 acres along the shores of the Butler Chain of Lakes. It presents a challenging but fair test for pros and amateurs alike.
For serious players, Bay Hill is a must. That compelling obligation stems from the resort’s longtime association as Arnold Palmer’s winter home and its status as an annual PGA Tour stop. However, the strength of Bay Hill lies in its excellent bunkering that protects the greens. The practice facility is first rate as well.
New Course at Grand Cypress Golf Club
Set in the midst of an open meadow, New Course is Jack Nicklaus’ tribute and homage to the famed Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.
This Scottish links masterpiece is complete with double greens, stone bridges and walls, gorse mounds, burns, and pot bunkers as deep as 12 feet — all in the spirit of the Scottish original. Very little water comes into play, but when it does it’s challenging. Few trees are located within the interior of the course, creating generous landing areas. But golfers beware: Errant tee shots easily find their way into one of the 150 pot bunkers!
Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge
This highly rated public course features two championship layouts: Crooked Cat and Panther Lake. Golfers will also find a 9-hole short course, golf academy, and the largest driving range and practice facility in America — all under the roof of Orange County National.
It’s not short on accolades either. The course ranks as the top public course in Florida and No. 2 in America by Golf World’s readers who chose the top 50 public courses in the country. In addition, Golf Advisor gives Crooked Cat’s links-style look a 4.6 out of a possible 5.0 rating, and both championship courses serve as challenging PGA Tour Q-School tests.
Shingle Creek Golf Club
Winner of GolfOrlandoFlorida.com’s Best Golf Course in Orlando award, Shingle Creek Golf Club, was redesigned in the summer of 2016 by Arnold Palmer Golf Design. Today, the course centers around the natural feel of historic Shingle Creek, which winds throughout the course and flows 140 miles south into the headwaters of the Florida everglades.
The layout features undulating fairways, interconnecting waterways, tournament playing conditions, and large rolling greens. Dense oaks and pines provide a scenic backdrop along the winding creek. Fun fact: The setting gets its name from early settlers’ use of the creek to transport cypress trees to the mill and create shingles for the roof tops of their homes.
Waldorf Astoria Golf Club
One of the newer additions to Orlando golf courses, this Rees Jones-designed course near Disney Resort offers immaculate playing conditions and exceptional service.
The classic Waldorf layout brings water into play on more than half its holes. Players also notice it blends traditional character with challenging subtleties for an experience enhanced by natural elements, like the majestic cypress trees that line the fairways. The course, one of Golf Magazine’s prestigious, Top Courses You Can Play, features a five-tee system to accommodate golfers of every caliber.
Dubsdread Golf Course
There is something compelling about standing in a spot that holds hallowed status because of its antiquity alone. Such is Dubsdread, central Florida’s oldest public golf course that was originally designed in 1924. It also served as the former site of the Orlando Golf Open, which once hosted golf icons Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.
Today, golfers take in the same beautiful scenery and challenges of the original course. Although renovated in 2008, including narrow fairways and heavily bunkered postage stamp-style greens, Dubsdread remains a classic among the top Orlando golf courses.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes
Among the most naturally pristine golf courses in Orlando, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club® Orlando, Grande Lakes is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Designed by two-time British Open champion Greg Norman, this luxury golf course eases past oaks, lakes and wetlands, blending into the innate Central Florida landscape. All the while, it protects natural resources and habitats while enhancing the overall golf experience.
The course melds a variety of hazards to provide a challenging but fair test in an atmosphere reminiscent of a private course. Tiger Woods once praised the layout as having some of the finest greens he had ever putted.
Southern Dunes Golf and Country Club
It’s not often that locals and tourists alike can locate a course in Florida with such unique topography. This dramatic hillside layout features 100 feet of elevation change, large undulating greens, high-lipped bunkers, dunes with high grasses, and ornamentals that tumble with the terrain.
Southern Dunes began as a stroke of unfortunate luck back in 1989. At this time, a 350-acre citrus grove on the site was lost to a killer freeze. But the original ownership group elected not to replant the grove, opting instead for developing a golf course. Southern Dunes was born.
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