Short and sweet: Orlando's top par 3s

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 11, 2012, 5:00 am

ORLANDO -- Golf is one sport where size doesn't matter. Take your par 3s, for example.

On a par-5 hole, there's room for error, and it is okay to play it safe, going for the green in three. On a par 3, you have one choice: Go for the green and -- since most par 3s are surrounded with all kinds of tricky obstacles, bunkers or water hazards -- you don't have much of a choice. Hit the green or pray that you brought your short game.

There are plenty of those holes in Orlando. The city may be known as America's playground, but there are some par 3s in the Orlando area that can turn it into America's nightmare, at least when it comes to golf.

Here are some examples of holes that can make or break a round:

Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, No. 11

You can stay short on no. 11 at Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, a 238-yarder, but that doesn't make it safe.

The green is surrounded in the back by a horseshoe-shaped trap, and there's a two-tier green that makes for a difficult chip if you are short of the green. Either you have to putt or chip up a deep slope to a tight backside of the green and risk slipping into the bunker, or hit past the hole and simply stick the tee shot.

That doesn't make it any easier, because when the pin is in the middle, just above the slope, a courageous putt will drift away and ruin any chance of par.

Bay Hill Club & Lodge, No. 2

Arnold Palmer doesn't make it easy early on with no. 2 at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, a 230-yarder that goes downhill from the tee, straight into the pot bunker that fronts the green if the tee shot isn't far enough.

When the pin is on the back left, like it usually is for the PGA Tour members, it plays to around 254 yards. There's also a creek that runs behind the green, so anyone in the pot bunker up front better watch the blast out of the bunker.

Osprey Ridge Golf Course at Walt Disney World, No. 18

Disney golf is always up to something. Just last month, the closing hole at Osprey Ridge Golf Course, arguably Disney's toughest course of all, went from being a benign par 4 to a long par 3.

During a small makeover, it now uses what used to be the opening tee at Eagle Pines as the tee box and made it into a 213-yard hole where the wind plays tricks and requires a long carry over water. There are rocks fronting the two-tiered green.

Magnolia Golf Course at Walt Disney World, No. 6

No. 6 at Disney's Magnolia Golf Course is the one most golf fans know as 'The Mickey Mouse Hole,' since it has a round bunker next to the green with two smaller bunkers where Mickey's ears would be.

It's one of the more photographed holes in golf, but even if Mickey is smiling, it isn't an easy hole. At 231 yards, it also has water in the front, and it requires a big carry.

National Course at Championsgate, No. 14

No. 14 on the National Course at Championsgate is over water with a swamp fronting the green and is lined with pine trees on both sides.

At 210 from the tips, there is no room for error. It's a thinking golfer's hole, with a layup area, but going for the pin is a risk.

International Course at Championsgate, No. 17

At only 147 yards, the wind is the protector of the 17th hole on the International Course at Championsgate. Not to mention the mounds behind the green that makes for a tricky pitch.

The green is small, so don't let the distance fool you.

MetroWest Golf Club, No. 17

There's water down the left on 17 at MetroWest Golf Club, and the green is surrounded by bunkers and mounds that make it by far the toughest par 3 on the course.

The green is elevated with a large slope in front that leads to a creek that runs across the fairway.

Grand Cypress Resort's East Course, No. 5

Out of all the difficult par 3s at this 27-hole resort, no. 5 on the East Course at Grand Cypress Resort is the toughest.

It plays to 153 yards but has an island green that makes sticking it imperative. There's room in the center but sand just behind, so don't end up short. Go for par and get out.

Mission Inn Golf & Tennis Resort - El Campeon, No. 12

Water doesn't come into play on 12 at Mission Inn's El Campeon Course, but bunkers line the green on all sides of this monster.

The green is long but tight, and while you can lay up, the green is small enough that even a mediocre chip won't work.

Shingle Creek Golf Club, No. 5

No. 5 at Shingle Creek Golf Club has been described as a giant sand trap.

At 225 yards, there is water most of the way down the left side and three monster sand traps that almost completely surround the green. It's uphill, and with the bunkers all around, it makes for a blind tee shot, so check on the pin placement before hitting.

It plays into the wind almost every time, so it's a swing and a prayer.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x