Thursday, December 19, 2013

51 Orlando Area Courses to Play

With winter here I wanted to go thru the entire list of golf courses in Orlando that I have played that are available to the public for play for those golfers looking to play golf in the area in the next few months. These courses are in alphabetic order and most can have their tee times booked at GolfNow.com. Some courses I have left off the list is due to having not played there since moving to the area in 2010 (I played these courses in the 90’s; i.e. Timacuan, The Claw at USF, etc). I have ranked the courses on a scale of 1-10. 5 is considered ‘average.’

1. Bella Collina CC – Used to be an exclusively private course designed by Nick Faldo. One of the hilliest courses in all of Florida. Features a $50 million club house and plays to 7,900 yards from the back tees. Difficult to figure out where you are going the first time you play it. A little too long with too many uneven lies for my tastes. 18th hole is ridiculous. 5.5/10

2. Black Bear GC – Used to be a premier course in the area although it is located in Eustis which is nowhere close to anything. Pete Dye design. Very long and some very unfair driver shots which is common for Dye. Was not in good shape when I played it last year, but I think it’s a course if you play it a couple of times it can grow on you. Not meant for the higher handicappers. 4.0/10

3. Celebration GC – Designed by Robert Trent Jones’ son. It’s in Celebration which is down the road from Disney. Gorgeous housing around the course. Front nine is a bit goofy in its design. Back nine is excellent. 6.0/10

4. Champions Gate (International) – Designed by Greg Norman and is where they held Champions Tour Q-School qualifier. Very difficult course on the front nine which is very tight. Back nine is very open and very links style. 6.0/10



5. Champions Gate (National) – More of a parkland style of course and much easier than the International course. A few holes are a bit goofy in design and the course is not nearly as in good of shape and the international course. I believe it’s due to the layout not allowing the rain, wind and sun to set on the grass properly. 5.0/10

6. Continental CC – Located near The Villages in Wildwood. Very short course (only 6,300 yards from the back tees), but very tight. Usually greens are in good condition, but very slow. Back nine is much better than the front nine. 3.0/10

7. Deer Island CC – Located in the middle of nowhere. After we played the course the nearest place to eat is about 15 miles away. Overall a very nice course with a lot of scenic views. No real goofy holes and in good condition. 6.5/10

8. Deltona Club – Located in Deltona which is close to DeBary and Sanford. Great design and last time I played there the greens were in great shape. Still struggling with the tees and fairways. Usually very cheap to play there and a fun course to play. 6.0/10



9. Duran Golf Club – Located in Viera and down the road from the Stadium where the Washington Nationals spring training is played. A course with a large membership. Since it is near the coast the terrain is very flat. Decent design and in decent condition. 5.0/10

10. Eagle Creek GC – Located on Narcoosee Drive, right down the road from North Shore and Lake Nona CC. Very fair course and when I played there the course was in excellent condition. Heard they had condition troubles this year. Still, I will base it off when I played there. 6.0/10

11. Eagle Dunes – Located near RedTail in the Clermont/Monteverde section of Orlando. Starts off as hilly on holes #1 and #10, but flattens out quite a bit from there. Very so-so design and conditioning. 4.0/10

12. Eastwood GC – One of my former home clubs. Plays about 7,300 yards from the back tees. One of those courses that grows on you if you play it a handful of times. Too many poorly thought out design features (#2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #13) and too many greens designed like a potato chip. Heard that course conditions have worsened. Depending on the day one can play a super fast round or a super slow round. Located near UCF. 3.0/10

13. El Diablo G & CC – Designed by Tom Fazio’s brother and located up near Ocala. Very difficult course but a fairly good design. Course was in rough condition when we played it. Overall enjoyed it but it’s not a confidence builder. 4.5/10



14. Grand Cypress (new course) – ‘Inspired’ by St. Andrews. Each green is a ‘double green’ and there is hardly any rough. Even if you’re 100 yards off line, it’s all fairway or green or tee. Filled with pot bunkers. Fantastic condition and a treat to play. Right in the heart of the golf area of Orlando (Central West or Southwest Orlando). 8.5/10

15. Grande Pines – Located in the same area as Grand Cypress (not part of the same company). It’s in a resort/time share area but it is not anything like your typical resort style of course. It’s actually quite narrow and has some demanding tee shots. Generally a great course although a couple of the holes were a bit wacky in design. In fantastic condition. 8.0/10

16. Harbor Hills – Located near The Villages and is a course that typically has members from the surrounding community as golfers. Some incredibly demanding shots, particularly from the back tees on #10. Very solid golf course here. 6.0/10

17. Hawk’s Landing – Located in the ‘golf area’ of Orlando. Extremely weird entrance as it is part of a time share, hotel and convention center. They give free valet parking if you’re playing golf. Course is in excellent condition. The front nine is a little tricked up for my tastes, but I thought the back nine was superb. 6.0/10



18. Juliette Falls CC – Located 10 miles west of Ocala. Was a private course but now accepts tee times on GolfNow. Excellent course. If there is a complaint, the par-3’s are nearly impossible from the back tees. Otherwise some outstanding golf holes and a great atmosphere for golf and being able to have some food and drinks afterward. One of my favorites and well worth the trip. 9.0/10

19. La Cita CC – A hidden gem located in Titusville. It’s a private course that you can only call to make reservations. Winter rates are pricey, but it’s a Ron Garl and Lee Trevino design. Features a lot of dog legs. First 6 holes could be better, but holes 7-18 are as strong of a design as anywhere in Orlando. Usually greens are in good shape, tees and fairways leave a lot to be desired. 6.5/10

20. Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes – Private course that you can only book tee times thru TeeTimesUSA.com. Located near Lake Mary and is a Tom Fazio design. Tough course in general, but open to some low scores if you hit it well. Generally in great condition. New ownership should take the conditioning to the next level. 8.0/10

21. LPGA International (Hills Course) – World class facility where the LPGA Q-School is hosted. You will see a lot of mini-tour and junior golfers here. The Hills course is the better of the two and much more difficult. Fabulous design by Arthur Hills. 8.5/10

22. LPGA International (Jones Course) – This course was designed by Rees Jones and is a much easier design. No real bad holes here, but nothing that stands out like they do on the Hills Course. 6.5/10

23. Metrowest GC – Located on the west side of the city about 10 minutes from the Amway Center. Robert Trent Jones design that has its fair share of hills. The 14th tee is the highest point in Orlando. Recently renovated with $1.5 million which made the course much easier, but much more fun. They also installed TifEagle greens, my Bermuda green of choice. 7.5/10



24. Mission Inn (El Campeon) – One of the best courses in the area that is home to the Gary Gilchrist junior golf academy. It doesn’t look like it when you get there, but the course is extremely hilly. It was designed in 1917 and it has the feel and design of an old school PGA Tour course before the Tour went to all of these TPC designs. And because of the hilly landscape, it feels like a top tier course in a more elevated area like Western Pennsylvania. Generally in very good shape, but not in top-tier condition. 8.5/10

25. Mission Inn (Las Colinas) – Designed by Gary Koch and redesigned recently. The front nine is excellent. But, the back nine becomes incredibly narrow. The narrowness of the back nine is surrounded by trees, but it is too narrow that there is not a lot of strategy and overwhelming skill. It becomes more about luck. 4.5/10

26. Mystic Dunes – Designed by Gary Koch. Reminds me a bit of a Mike Strantz design where it is more about art than golf (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). The only thing I didn’t like about the course was the green designs which left for some ludicrous putts. One on hole with a giant tier in the green that ran from the front to the back (splitting the green in 2) we actually thought the flag was cut off the green. Outside of the 18th hole, the holes were fairly logical in design. 5.5/10

27. North Shore – Located down the road from Lake Nona and Eagle Creek. Has great TifEagle greens. The front nine is more of a links style course and the back nine is more parkland. Generally a fun course to play and it can yield some low scores. Pace of play is often horrendous there. 6.5/10

28. Orange County National (Crooked Cat) – Another world class facility that hosts the demo day for the PGA Merchandise show. Has the largest range in North America. Probably the best conditioned public course in Orlando, particularly in the winter. Crooked Cat is the easier of the two. It’s much more reasonable, but doesn’t quite have those great holes. 7.5/10

29. Orange County National (Panther Lake) – My only gripe is that there is some confusion as to where to tee off between the 3rd hole and the 7th hole. It also has a couple of tee shots where you have to hit it 260 carry from the back tees in order to have a chance. Other than that, it’s excellent. 9.0/10



30. Orange Lake Resort (Legends Course) – Arnold Palmer design and one of the best designed courses in all of Orlando (including Bay Hill). Usually in terrific condition and features wooden flag sticks. Not a bad hole on the course. It is a bit loud because of the resort. 9.0/10

31. RedTail Club – Located in the Monteverde area and is a bit of a trip to get out there. However, this is a very fun and well designed course. The best part is the design of the par-5’s. The back nine is a bit more difficult. Great club house and nice finishing hole. Conditioning took a bit of a hit this year, but still in pretty good shape. 8.5/10

32. Rio Pinar CC – Typically a private course now offering tee times on GolfNow. Built in 1957 and has that feel of an old school Tour course as it is where the PGA Tour used to hold the Citrus Open. Requires better driving of the ball than most people think. Currently going thru a $4.5 million renovation with new, Championship Bermuda greens. The facelift was much needed. One of the most fun designs in all of Orlando. If the newly installed greens play well, the ranking would be higher. 7.0/10

33. Ritz Carlton – Grande Lakes – World class facility and treatment from the staff. Recently held the PNC Father/Son Challenge there. Course is in phenomenal condition and is mostly filled with well designed holes, but nothing that leaves you with something to remember. And if the conditions are not in your favor (either rain or wind), it can be pretty brutal out there. 8.0/10



34. Shingle Creek – Excellent course design that is not too resort-ish and won’t beat you up either. In the winter time the greens are in superb condition. This is not too far from Universal Studios and they take good care of the customers here. Some really excellent holes here like #3, #4, #9, #11 and #15. 8.5/10

35. Southern Dunes – Noted for having the best greens in Orlando and I have to agree. About 15 minutes south of Disney and a very nice parkland style course. Played there in the Summer and the greens were smooth reading at 13 on the stimp. Lovely course and layout with a lot of fun golf holes. 9.0/10

36. Spruce Creek – Located up towards The Villages. Front nine is very short (about 3,000 yards) and back nine becomes longer (about 3,500 yards). Quite a few wacky holes with very sharp doglegs, but it also has a lot of good holes. One of those courses that if you play it a few times it will grow on you. 4.0/10

37. Stonecrest – Located near The Villages. Another course that if you play it more often that it will grow on you. Starts out tough with a par-5 that has two large fairway bunkers right in your landing area. Then a 210 yard par-3 into a small island green. Then the next few holes feature a lot of weird terrain. 4.5/10



38. Stoneybrook East – Located near UCF. Very tight course that has water and hazards surrounding both sides of the hole. Not overly long. Typical Clifton and Ezell design in that it’s a nice course from tee to green, but some ridiculously designed greens. If you can drive it well, you can go low on the course. Type of course where I could shoot 68 one day and then 86 the next day. TifDwarf greens which means that they are in inconsistent condition. 6.0/10

39. The Villages (Arnold Palmer) – 27 hole design by Arnold Palmer. Typical Villages course in that it has a nice design from tee to green, but the greens are very slow and very undulated. Better hit it well to shoot a low score. 7.0/10

40. The Villages (Cane Garden) – 27 hole design. I cannot remember which nine is which, but one of the nines was very goofy. The other 2 nines were quite nice, forgiving and fun. Has had problems with the condition of their greens. 5.5/10

41. The Villages (Evans Prairie) – Best designed course in the Villages. The one course that does not feature slow, undulated greens. Brand new course that needs a little more time to mature. 7.5/10



42. The Villages (Glenview) – Perhaps the most difficult of The Villages courses. Not as well designed as the Palmer course or Evans Prairie, but still a very solid course. 6.5/10

43. The Villages (Nancy Lopez) – 27 hole design by Nancy Lopez. A little less sever on the green slope and is generally well designed. 6.5/10

44. The Villages (Tierra Del Sol) – One of the first courses at the Villages. Has a lot of decent holes, but too many poorly designed ones. It’s also in fair condition compared to the top courses in The Villages. 4.5/10

45. Venetian Bay – Located near Daytona Beach. A course with a fairly good sized membership. Very flat and I found this course rather dull, but in good condition. 5.0/10

46. Victoria Hills – One of the best designs in all of Orlando. Just a fun, interesting and well thought out layout. Located near Sanford. Tees and fairways are in so-so condition, but the last time I played there the greens were in excellent shape. Some great par-5’s on this course. 7.5/10

47. Viera East – Located a bit north of Melbourne. A decent front nine design that improves dramatically on the back nine. Decent conditioning. 5.0/10

48. Walkabout GC – Located north of Titusville. Fairly hilly for that part of Florida. Pete Dye design with holes 1-12 being as tough of a stretch as anywhere in Florida. Building a 25,000 square foot club house. In good condition in the winter. Bring plenty of balls. 5.5/10

49. Windermere CC – Private club now accepting tee times at GolfNow. I think this would be a nice course to be a member at. But playing it I was not blown away by it. Good conditioning and I thought the back nine was a very good design. 5.5/10



50. World Woods (Pine Barrens) – Ranked in the top-100 in Golf Digest. It’s a hike to the middle of nowhere to get there. Course was designed by Tom Fazio as a tribute to Pine Valley. Dramatic and beautiful landscape. Top course I’ve played in the area. 9.5/10

51. World Woods (Rolling Oaks) – Fazio designed this course as a tribute to Augusta National. The excellence of Pine Barrens overshadows the greatness of Rolling Oaks. Some of the finishing holes are a little unfair, but otherwise a great course. 8.0/10





3JACK

3 comments:

Juan Gutierrez said...

Rich.

Excellent review of World Woods, and Juliette Falls. I play these courses regularly and they are a pleasure to play, tough and always in great shape!! El Diablo has a new owner and he has been investing in the course and it is starting to come around. HOWEVER, like you said it is NOT a confidence builder. Davis Love used to practice there in preparation for the Masters.

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