Falcons Fire ups Orlando golf ante

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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.