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 »  Home  »  Magazine Departments  »  Featured Courses  »  Destination: The Answer is Orlando
Destination: The Answer is Orlando
By Mike Jamison | Published  11/22/2007 | Featured Courses | Unrated
Diversity Of Central Florida Golf And Entertainment Makes Orlando The Perfect Choice For Any Type Of
A golf getaway can mean different things to different people.
What would bring a smile to a group of guys on a weeklong, golf-loaded vacation wouldn’t appeal to the wife looking for a romantic getaway with her husband, with a round of golf thrown in.

What works for the four couples on a friendly weekend trip probably is a no-go for the eight women on a golfing girls getaway.

Does a family vacation with a little golf on the side require the same kind of planning as a heavy-duty match-play golf trip for the guys from the country club?

It is a fact of life - golf vacations do not come from one singular mold. And more times than not, a destination that caters to one type of vacationing golfer can’t properly suit the needs of another.

Unless, of course, your golf destination is also the world’s No. 1 vacation destination.

Orlando, Florida, is one of the few places in the USA that can confidently deliver the desires of any type of traveling golf group.
“We certainly have it all in Orlando,” says Jeff Hamilton, president of Golfpac Travel and owner of GolfOrlando, a marketing agent for Central Florida golf courses. “Orlando has been a world leader among vacation destinations and convention business since the 1980s. There are countless reasons why people enjoy coming here.

“With the diversity of golf experiences available, golf is a major draw for Orlando. There is nothing I can think of that isn’t available to any golfer wishing to travel here.”

Just to test the theory, we researched how a few diverse groups of golfers could plan a vacation through GolfOrlando.com. Which group would you fall into?

A DOZEN GUYS ON A HARD-CORE GOLF TRIP

The most difficult thing about booking this group is deciding which courses to leave off the list. There are so many premiere layouts in Orlando, designed by the greatest names in architecture, that you’d have to come back year after year to play them all. But here’s what a typical 5-day trip might look like.

Day 1 – Arrive around noon, and play Shingle Creek Golf Club, only a few minutes from the region’s outstanding airport, Orlando International. Shingle Creek is always in great shape and provides an inviting, comfortable test to open your trip.
You’ll grab a quick meal in the grillroom afterwards, then head to Floridays Resort Orlando off International Drive where you’ll check into your 2-bedroom hotel suites.

Day 2 – The opening 18 of this two-course day is at the area’s most unique design, Mystic Dunes. Champions Tour player and NBC golf commentator Gary Koch routed two entirely different nines – one through the natural landscape with oaks, pines and marshlands, and the other through open spaces with inviting fairways and sloping greens guarded by large mounds and bunkers. You’ll enjoy discussing the ups and downs of your round over lunch in the beautiful Kenzie’s Steak House located in the clubhouse. A short drive takes you to Orange Lake Resort, where you’ll take on The Legends, one of two courses on the resort. Designed by Arnold Palmer, this course also features two distinctly different nines.

This will be a great night to visit Universal City Walk, where the bars and restaurants are numerous, the entertainment diverse, and the people watching un-matched.

Day 3 – You’re going to take a later tee time today and drive out to Harmony Golf Preserve. This is a gem of a golf course by Johnny Miller that changes faces regularly based on the direction and severity of the ever-present wind. Bring every club in your bag, as you’ll probably need them. Tonight you’ll explore your I-Drive neighborhood, where a vast array of restaurants and nightlife await you.

Day 4 – You’ll do 36 holes again today, playing the beauties that hosted the PGA Tour Qualifying School Finals in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Orange County National sports two distinctly different courses – Panther Lake and Crooked Cat. Both are rated 4 and 1/2 stars by Golf Digest, and both feature elevation change unusual for the area. Panther Lake is Golfpac’s most requested course in Orlando. It is the tighter of the two layouts, and is slightly longer and more difficult. With wide terraced fairways and native redtop heather grass in the rough, Crooked Cat has a distinct Scottish flavor.

For your last night in Orlando, you’ll visit the Sand Lake Road area for a great steak at one of a dozen or more exceptional restaurants, and afterwards wine and a fine cigar at Corona’s Cigar Bar. Ah, I can taste it now…

Day 5 – You’re flying at 5 p.m., so you book your last round at Eagle Creek, which is only a few miles from the airport and has shower and locker room facilities. This Ron Garl design features inviting fairways, but green complexes that will test your short game, especially if you land in one of two dozen rivetted bunkers. Good luck with those. And, all your bets for the week could come down to the best risk/reward finishing hole in Orlando. The sloping 18th green on this shorttish par 5 sits tantalizingly above a lake that guards the entire front and right side of the putting surface. A big drive leaves you with a big decision.


A COUPLE ON A ROMANTIC WEEKEND

Umm, this is a tough choice. There are some truly exquisite full-service resorts in Orlando – Reunion, Ritz Carlton and Orange Lake Resort among them. But for this trip, you are going to the prime address for a touch of romance sprinkled with some grand golf – Grand Cypress Resort. This is where many celebrities go to hide out when visiting or working in Orlando. You’ll stay in a spacious fairway villa and have at your fingertips a playground that includes everything from an equestrian program to 45 holes of incredible Jack Nicklaus-designed golf that has hosted the best players in the world. Throw in romantic dining and late night strolls around the lushly landscaped grounds, and you’ll never want to leave.

FAMILY VACATION WITH GOLF

Can it get any better than this? Walt Disney World is all you need to say when it comes to a family vacation. Throw in 99 holes of golf, a wide variety of accommodations and diverse dining options and you have the perfect family getaway with a little golf tied in. If you want to escape from the Mouse and his friends for a while, Celebration Golf Cub is a short drive away. If your little ones play, Celebration features a junior set of tees on the regulation course that is perfect for beginners. A great kicker to this story? This design is the only collaboration between Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr.

FOUR COUPLES ON A LONG WEEKEND

Perfect site for this trip is the new and exciting Reunion Resort, where Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus carved out masterpieces and the Ginn Company built a marvelous hotel. There is no reason to leave the property, but just to try something different after a couple of rounds on the grounds you can venture to Grand Pines Golf Club on International Drive, where a variety of area shops and restaurants can help you make a day of it. Or maybe you’ll take a drive toward Tampa, and stop for 18 at The Club At Bridgewater in Lakeland.

Regardless of your choice, or the size and makeup of your group, relax and enjoy the experience, knowing your expectations will be exceeded. After all, it’s Orlando!