Golf on three budgets Orlando

By Erik PetersonDecember 28, 2010, 7:00 am

        Waldorf Astoria Golf Club is the newest addition to the Orlando golf scene. (Nile Young Jr.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – While some golf destinations cater to a certain demographic, golf courses in Orlando appeal to a much wider audience. From luxurious hotel brands like Waldorf Astoria to historical gems such as Dubsdread, here are the best options at three different price points:

Orlando golf on a big budget
Waldorf Astoria Golf Club is one of the newest and most luxurious golf courses in Orlando. This Rees Jones layout, carved out of a rare vacant piece of wetlands on the Walt Disney World Resort property, has a classic look not found elsewhere in Orlando. The adjoining Waldorf Astoria Hotel lives up to its name and is one of, if not the finest hotel in Central Florida.

Another high-end golf resort in Orlando is another famous name: Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. Just like the hotel, this Greg Norman design is well-built and fantastically maintained, with an emphasis on service (it’s the only course in Orlando where a forecaddie is included in your green fee).

Bay Hill Club also belongs among the higher echelon of Orlando golf courses, and it’s because of one man: Arnold Palmer. Not only is Bay Hill the King’s home course it’s also the host site of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an elite PGA Tour event that draws the world’s top golfers.

Bay Hill was originally designed by Dick Wilson in 1961, but was reconstructed in 2009 by Arnold Palmer Design Company. The resulting layout features deeper bunkers and greens cut closer to the edges of the signature rock-lined lakes. The quaint, recently renovated Lodge at Bay Hill is literally a “must-stay” because members and registered hotel guests are the only ones granted access to the course.

Though lower rates can be had in summer months, Disney’s Palm and Disney’s Magnolia are still considered high-end courses. PGA Tour pros make minced meat of both courses during the Children’s Miracle Network Classic each November, but each course (particularly Magnolia) can be a good test for the average golfer.

Orlando golf on a medium budget
At the southern end of Orlando’s I-4 corridor is ChampionsGate’s two distinct golf courses and Omni hotel. The International Course is regarded as the tougher of the two because of its length, deep bunkers and windy conditions though the National Course is no slouch with its devilish wetlands. This facility has good pro pedigree as former host of the Del-Webb Father-Son Challenge and current home of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

If you’re staying near Universal Orlando Resort or the Orange County Convention Center, a solid mid-priced option is Metrowest Golf Club. This parkland style golf course has good variety – you won’t hit the same club on any of the par 3s – and its conditions rival any comparably priced course.

Another convenient choice for business travelers is Shingle Creek Golf Club. Quality conditions and friendly service are the hallmarks at this Rosen resort property, which also is home to a large hotel and conference center. As with most courses in the area, water hazards and bunkers are Shingle Creek’s greatest defense.

For visitors looking for a deviation from your standard resort golf experience, check out Celebration Golf Club. Located in the exclusive Celebration neighborhood, it has a relaxed, family vibe to it while still maintaining a high level of service. A junior course and junior tees further enhance the family element.

Not far from Celebration is Falcon’s Fire Golf Club, which recently reopened after a renovation and features some of the best greens in town. This Rees Jones layout is a rarity in Orlando because it doesn’t have a hotel or housing on property.

If you’re looking to venture off the beaten path, Harmony Golf Preserve is a superb Johnny Miller layout that’s priced right. It’s one of the newest courses in the Orlando area, but conditions have quickly matured to make it one of the best-conditioned tracks around.

Orlando Golf on a small budget
The best low-budget golf course in Orlando is also the city’s oldest. Dubsdread Golf Course opened in 1924 and has been a local favorite ever since. Located in the historical College Park district near downtown Orlando, “Dubs” is fresh off a long-awaited renovation.

Another old course that passes the walk-in-the-park test is Winter Park Country Club, a nine-hole executive course in the affluent Winter Park suburb. This walking-only track doesn’t accept tee times, only walkups, but the backdrop of old trees and high-end real-estate makes for a relaxing and scenic deviation from your standard Orlando resort golf course.

Editor’s note: Before deciding how much you want to pay, consider the season. High-end courses can be had for bargain prices in the summer months. On the contrary, even the least-expensive golf courses in Orlando are at peak rates in late winter / early spring.
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Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1