SORRENTO, Florida -Located only 23 miles north of Orlando, Eagle Dunes Golf Club is unlike many courses in the “Sunshine State” that were carved out of the native wetlands. This is a sprawling course with a links feel built on rolling terrain amid large sand dunes surrounded by a natural setting that enhances the beauty of Central Florida’s Lake County.
Mike Dasher created this links type course to challenge and excite golfers while still making it fun. Eagle Dunes has received great praise from many golfers since opening in 2003. Golfers appreciate its elevation changes, well maintained greens, and beautiful fairways. Golf Digest gave Eagle Dunes a four-star rating in the 2008-2009 edition of Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play.”
The course is challenging from the tips, but six sets of tees and the wide fairways make it playable for all golfers of all ability levels. The course plays 7,024 yards from the Black tees, with a USGA rating of 73.7/slope 131. Gold tees 6588 yards/rating 71.6/slope 124. White tees 6073 yards/rating 69.3/slope 119. Combo tees 5666 yards/rating 68.8/slope 118. Blue tees 5615 yards/rating 68.1/slope 116. Red tees 5277 yards/rating 70.1/slope 114. Fairways and roughs are Bermuda Grass while greens are TifEagle Grass.
The pro shop and snack bar are located just off the parking lot and sit at the top of the hill giving the golfers a panoramic view of the course before they start. The current fee structure is weekdays $45-$50 and weekends $45-$60 including carts and range balls. Membership is limited to property owners while most golfers use the reservation system for tee times.
Water hazards come into play in varying degrees on four of the holes. Par is protected at Eagle Dunes by the huge waste areas and bunker complexes on nearly every hole, and there usually is at least a slight breeze to factor into the equation. The fairways are wide and undulating allowing plenty of room for an errant tee or approach shot.
The exceptionally large greens are considered among the best in Central Florida, and in true links style, golfers can bounce the ball onto most of the putting surfaces. Wild, native grasses only enhance the Scottish look that makes you wish you had your mashies and niblicks or cleeks and jiggers, among other clubs somewhere in your golf bag.
The par-5, 520-yard downhill 1st hole gives the golfer a good chance for a birdie. A sweeping dogleg right with a bunker protecting the front right side of the green is easily reachable in 3 shots.
The Par 4, 2nd hole is the most difficult on the card, 463 yards with a large wetlands area down the left side and a waste area on the right, to a tight green area that is protected by water on the left. This is your first indication that this is a course to be reckoned with.
The 5th hole is a 442-yard par 4 that generally plays into the wind, and is rated No. 3 in difficulty on the card, with bunkers in the driving area and surrounding the green.
There are not many trees at Eagle Dunes, but the last 100 yards of the 366-yard 6th hole plays uphill through a corridor of tall pines that make this perhaps the prettiest hole on the course and is a nice reprieve from the waste areas and moguls that seem to be everywhere.
The back nine starts with a hole that plays dramatically downhill, 437 yards, with a large lake on the left ready to swallow any tee shot that heads that way or an approach shot that comes up short of the long, shallow green.
The 12th hole is another difficult par 4 at 458 yards, with sand and native areas all along the way to the green, and the 16th hole is a daunting par 3 at 208 yards, with the wind making club selection vital. The front right side bunker will capture any ball that falls short of the green.
The 546-yard 18th hole is considered the most difficult on the back side and makes for a big finish, especially when it plays into the wind, since the elevated green requires a nearly blind approach shot up a steep hill. Caution here to a first-time visitor, the back of the green has very little room for a ball that travels through before heading down a forty-foot drop.
Eagle Dunes Golf Club is considered one of the best public courses in the region, but your first time around the course may give you reason to believe that it plays difficult and longer than expected. This Links Style layout is a different challenge for a golfer playing it for the first time. It’s the type of course, you play it once to learn how to play it, then you play it again to see what you’ve learned. Put this one on your “Must Play” list towards the top.