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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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.”