Falcons Fire ups Orlando golf ante

By Erik PetersonMarch 9, 2010, 12:47 am
falcons fire hole 13
No. 13 at Falcon's Fire Golf Club (photo courtesy Falcon's Fire)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – When Falcon’s Fire Golf Club opened in 1993, the Orlando golf scene looked a lot different than it does today – behemoths Reunion Resort, ChampionsGate and Orange County National simply didn’t exist yet.

Fast-forward to today and there are about 75 golf courses in Orlando.

For more golf in Orlando, or to plan your next trip, visit OrlandoGolf.com
Recognizing the old adage, if you’re standing still you’re falling behind, Falcon’s Fire completed a renovation in Oct. 2009 that included new greens, which were resurfaced with TifEagle turf. Bunkers also were reworked to make the course more visually intimidating. The result is Falcon’s Fire’s reemergence as one of Orlando’s elite daily-fee golf courses.

Utilize the run-up shot

Designed by Rees Jones, the course features plenty of water – particularly on the back nine – but most holes don’t have any short of the green. This design characteristic gives the course flexibility by allowing the weekend hacker to enjoy the course without losing a million golf balls, while still challenging the better ball-striker by making him or her consider trajectory on approach shots.

About the only holes where the run-up shot cannot be used is on the par-3s, which are diverse in distance but require an aerial attack.

Creating virtual movement

If you look at Falcon’s Fire on a scorecard it appears as though most holes are straight, but fairway bunkers frame the holes in such a way that careful thought should go into the placement of your tee shot.

No. 2, for example, is a simple short par-4 but a drive down the right side flirts with a bunker, and gives players a tough angle into the green even if he or she is in the fairway. The proper play is a left-to-right shot down the left side of the fairway.

No. 12 has the opposite effect, where tee shots left feed toward a bunker and leave you with a narrow angle into the green.

Nos. 2 and 12 appear straight but require a dogleg-type tee shot. If you miss it on the wrong side of the fairway, be prepared to hit your approach shot into the skinny part of the green.

New greens are faster, more undulating

Just like a steak knife, green contours get duller over time, so the renovation at Falcon’s Fire included a fresh sharpening. While the increase in undulation isn’t drastic from a visual standpoint, when you add fast greens to the mix it’s a tricky combination.

And while we’re on the subject of green speed, you’ll want to pay attention to the new TifEagle surfaces. Speed and smoothness of greens is arguably the most important characteristic in determining the overall quality of a golf course, and the new surfaces at Falcon’s Fire are some of the purest in town.

With the combination of speed and undulation at Falcon’s Fire, putts from above the hole require a surgeon’s touch.

Factor the wind

If you’ve played golf in Florida you know that the terrain is flat and exposed, and it’s not uncommon for the wind to blow 20-25 mph on any given day, no matter the season. Falcon’s Fire is no exception to this rule, and if the greens are running fast the wind can play an even larger role.

The green at No. 13 is particularly tricky because of its tiered design and position along a lake that sits exposed to the elements.

The verdict

With the recent renovation at Falcon’s Fire you can bet that conditions are some of the best in the area, and its close proximity to Disney (3 miles) means it’s convenient for the Mickey-goers.

With a rack rate of $129 Falcon’s Fire is right on par with the area’s other high-end daily-fee courses. One aspect that makes it stand out amongst some of the resort courses in its price range is that it’s a stand-alone golf course with no hotel, so you don’t have to book a stay-and-play to get the best rate – all golfers are treated equally.

If you’re considering a trip to Central Florida for MLB spring training, check out Falcon’s Fire’s “Hat’s Off” promotion, which offers golfers $30 off green fees between March 4 and April 3, 2010 if you play in your favorite baseball team’s hat.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”