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.