Florida Guide > Golf
Favourite golf courses and top golfing tips
All the theme parks are great days out for the family, but what better way to escape the crowds and get some valuable ‘me time’ to unwind than visiting the excellent golf courses in and around the theme park area.
As an avid golf player, I have spent considerable time (and money! ) researching golf around the world and Orlando has fantastic courses suited to all abilities. Most courses have driving ranges that are available if you simply want to practice, and many have five tee boxes, allowing you to set the length of the course to match your skill level. The courses usually insist on using golf carts, some of which have GPS technology allowing you to park next to your ball and get accurate yardage.
Here are my current favourite 10 courses, followed by my top tips for golfing in Florida:
Disney courses - Magnolia is generally expensive to play, but is beautifully maintained, long and very very open (so forgiving for us amateurs if you can miss the water). It’s easy to see why the pros burn it up. Watch out for the gators on the tees.
Palm is also well maintained, but more challenging than Magnolia as the fairways are narrower.
Celebration. This well maintained course can be a real battle and it’s my son’s personal favourite as he has beaten me on this 18 hole course. The driving range has special golf balls designed to float in the water that surrounds the islands laid out at set distances.
Grande Pines Marriott – Offering good value golf, this well managed resort course also has a welcoming bar and restaurant.
Falcons Fire – These immaculate greens are made with Tif Eagle grass. It is like playing on a billiard table.
Champions Gate National – Greg Norman designed this course using his own blend of grass making it the best fairways – like playing off a carpet
Legends Golf Club (on Route 27) – This offers great value for money. Undulating fairways and the location makes it blustery there even on the sunniest of days.
Hunters Creek – It’s location makes this an ideal course to play whilst the family enjoys the thrills of Gatorland just 5 minutes away. This long course offers good value for money.
Orange Lake – 2 x 18 hole resort courses and a 9 hole short course. The unusual course is the Par 3 floodlit course which is open until 9pm offering a unique way to spend a balmy evening. Make sure you have your credit card as the golf shop no longer accepts cash payment.
Diamondback – More reasonably priced course as it is a bit further out, but worth the trip. Named after the snakes that live in the bushes. Quite a challenging course, with narrow fairways and severe rough. Well suited to those that hit the ball straight!
Southern Dunes – This low lying course has very little water, but plenty of bunkers to keep you alert! In my view, it has the best greens I’ve played on – lightning fast.
Top tips for Florida golfing:
• Before you leave home, make sure you check the charges made by your airline for golf equipment. Until recently, many airlines did not charge to carry golf bags, but many are changing this policy. You will need to compare the cost of carriage to the cost of rental clubs. Rental clubs are available at most courses.
• The standard dress code applies but playing in shorts is acceptable. Public courses do not require a proof of handicap.
• Apply plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent and drink lots of fluids. Sunburn and insect bites can be a big distraction from your game and you’ll dehydrate easily even though you’re using a golf cart.
• If you can’t see the ball, leave it in the bushes! There are plenty of snakes and other Florida wildlife that doesn’t want to be disturbed.
• Morning tee times are generally most popular and so more expensive. If you’re looking for a good deal, check out the prices in early afternoon for the winter season, but remember it gets dark early. In the summer, mid afternoon tee times are usually cheaper, but watch out for the intense heat and Florida’s famous thunderstorms.
• Make sure you have some dollars in your wallet for tipping the assistants when they clean your clubs at the end of the round.
Remember – whatever your score, there is always the 19th hole…………
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