Classic Florida resort golf awaits at Disney

By November 9, 2010, 8:45 pm


One of the most memorable shots at Lake Buena Vista Golf Course comes on the short par-3 seventh hole to an island green.

With the Children's Miracle Network Classic returning to Disney World, we uncover the secrets that make Disney a world class golf resort.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A golf traveler's worst nightmare is showing up to a tee time only to discover the golf course is fresh off the necessary evil that is aerification.

However, tee it up at Lake Buena Vista Golf Course on an early June morning at a time where most central Florida golf courses are in a transition period, and you can barely tell.

On Walt Disney World's four golf courses, that 'nightmare' scenario never happens. Leave it to Disney to ensure golfers have a virtual guarantee the course they tee it up on will always be in good shape.

'We close each course for 11 days in the spring (for aerification),' said Gary Myers, manager of golf course operations at Disney. 'So we're always able to provide guests with a course that is in good shape.'

Because Disney has four golf courses, one or two can close at a time in order to apply seasonal maintenance, whether it's for spring or fall aerification or fall over-seeding. Golf traffic can then be directed to the other courses. Maintenance schedules are staggered, so there's always at least two Disney courses open for play.

So if you are teeing it up during the summer or fall shoulder maintenance season, don't fret when the course you want to play is closed; it's for your benefit, and another perfectly worthy Disney course is ready for play.

Lake Buena Vista: Classic resort golf

A regular design name in Florida, Joe Lee built Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. It opened a year after he built Disney's Palm Golf Course and Magnolia Golf Course in 1971, which coincided with the opening of the Magic Kingdom.

These days, the Children's Miracle Network Classic is held on the Palm and Magnolia each year, L.B.V. holds a unique designation as hosting a PGA Tour, LPGA and USGA event in its history.

While Disney's newest course, Osprey Ridge Golf Course, is encircled by nature – even the Palm and Magnolia are mostly in seclusion despite their location minutes from the Magic Kindgom – Lake Buena Vista is the most resort-feeling course at Disney by far.

You pass over roads on a few occasions and tour buses pass by between some holes on the front side, while playing through Disney's pastel Old Key West Resort on many parts of the front side. This is resort golf in the heart of the action at Disney World. It makes for a convenient play since so much is so close.

It's also the most player-friendly of the courses with a shorter championship length at less than 6,800 yards.

But you still have to hit the shots to score at Lake Buena Vista Golf Course as evidenced as early as the par-5 opening hole. A large fairway invites players off the tee, but a pond creeps in on the left near the raised green just enough to make you think about going for the green with a long iron or wood early on.

Water carries are required early and often, both off the tee and on the approach, while holes No. 6 and No. 7 each require a short iron shot to peninsula greens protected on three sides by water.

After the 10th hole, the course brings you deeper and quieter into nature, passing through forest and over canals. On the par-3 16th hole, the tee box plays alongside a canal that often has small tour boats passing by. This is your gallery moment to wow some onlookers with a smooth swing before moving onto the finishing holes.

Lake Buena Vista Golf Course at Walt Disney World: The verdict

Low-handicaps may be better suited for Disney's Osprey Ridge or Magnolia, but Lake Buena Vista Golf Course is an especially family-friendly design that can still show its teeth on the back set of tees. There are four total sets of tees playing as short as 5,300 yards.

If your group has a beginner or you just want to play nine holes, check out Oak Trail Golf Course, located at the flagship facility with Palm and Magnolia across from the Polynesian Resort.

Condition standards are as high at L.B.V. as the other Disney courses, and the TifEagle greens that were installed in 2007 still run quick and smooth, making putting a joy here. Golf carts are equipped with GPS at each Disney course, and walking is allowed.

Where to eat after golf at Lake Buena Vista

Dining options onsite are limited to a beverage cart, so for a proper 19th hole, the nearby Turf Club at Saratoga Springs Resort is a fitting option. Or just a few minutes from the golf course, you can visit the ESPN Zone at the Boardwalk Resort, home to scores of TVs and full-menu pub grub and entrees.

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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.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

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.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

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