Golf on three budgets Orlando
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.
'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team
“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.
Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.
Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.
A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.
"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."
Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."
He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.
Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.
“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.
"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.
In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).
“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."
The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.
Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.
Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.
Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.
“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”
The problem was an expired visa.
Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.
No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.
Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.
His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.
One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.
His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.
“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”
He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.
“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.
Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.
“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.
The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.
“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.
“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”
Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.
“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”