KISSIMMEE, Florida – The devastation left behind by Hurricane Ian will forever be etched in the hearts and souls of those Floridians who saw firsthand just how quickly their lives and properties can change when nature unleashes its destructive powers.
Southwest Florida was Ian’s first victim as it focused its eye on its vulnerable coastline and then continued to ravage and destroy everything in its path as it moved northeast across the state.
The recovery process will be long-reaching for some communities while others will pick up the pieces and get back to the business of opening their doors once again to the influx of winter residents and visitors who look to Florida to give them the opportunity for relaxation, recreation, and days of warmth during the winter months.
One of those businesses is the Orange Lake Golf Resort located just minutes from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios with numerous Theme Parks and restaurants found within a six-mile radius. It’s also features 54 holes of golf across four unique golf courses.
I had an opportunity to visit with Orange Lake Head Golf Professional, Anthony Mastrangelo and Joey Bruce, Course Superintendent and get an update on damage from Hurricane Ian.
“We took a good look at everything and other than flooding and tree damage, we faired better than we thought we would,” said Mastrangelo. “The structural damage is always repairable but it’s the environmental destruction that can destroy the natural surroundings and its intrinsic beauty to the course and that’s the part most difficult to recover from. Our hearts goes out to those courses in Southern Florida that are dealing with this type of environmental destruction.”
RESERVE at ORANGE LAKE
Located in the West Village of Orange Lake Resort, The Reserve Course consists of 18 holes, 6,505 yards of rolling fairways, and expansive greens redesigned to be in harmony with the carefully preserved wetlands that give you a true taste of playing golf in a natural setting that provides the perfect balance of strategy, power, finesse and fun.
“We prepared for a major rain and wind event by removing everything off the courses that could have been possible projectiles and trimmed a number of trees that would have been susceptible to strong winds,” said Joey Bruce, a respected industry veteran. “There is still plenty of work but all four golf courses are open.”
The Reserve winds through woodlands of oak, cypress, and pine trees leading to marshlands and lakes featuring an abundance wildlife. It was redesigned by architect Mike Dasher in 2005 and has been ranked by Golf Magazine as one of the top 50 places to play in Florida. While this course is the shorter of two championship courses, it offers a challenging layout to test golfers of all skill levels.
The White tees measured 6,031 yards with a 66.2 slope and 116 rating. The course was opened to carts on the fairways, and it was obvious that several fairways were still in the recovery process from the torrential rains.
These areas were well marked and did not cause problems with playing any of the 18 holes. Considering the obstacles facing the grounds crews to put this course back online, it was in good shape. The Driving range is available during the day and lighted for nighttime use.
CRANES BEND at ORANGE LAKE (Executive Course)
Located in the West Village of Orange Lake Resort, Cranes Bend is a par-30 executive 9-hole course pays tribute to Orange Lake Resort’s diverse wildlife.
Featuring 1,901 yards of rolling greens that meander around our picturesque fountain lake with an island green. This scenic course is also great for family play. Although this is an executive course, don’t be fool by the first three holes thinking it will be an easy day around a short course because it’s not. Bring your whole bag of clubs and be prepared to be challenged on several holes.
LEGENDS at ORANGE LAKE
Located in the East Village of Orange Lake Resort, The Legends is an 18 Hole Arnold Palmer Signature Design, and the 7,072-yard championship course offers two distinct play experiences. Scottish-style golf is featured on the front nine; while the towering pines, majestic oaks, winding fairways, and flowing water on the back nine are reminiscent of the Carolinas.
The course has multiple sets of tee boxes to ensure that all skill levels can enjoy a challenging round. Legends is the longer of the two championship courses but is more wide-open. Driving range available during the day.
LEGENDS WALK (Lighted Course)
Located in the North Village of Orange Lake Resort, The Legends Walk invites you to step back into the early days of the game. Golf legend Arnold Palmer designed this unique par 3, 1,581-yard walking course for a quick and exciting nine holes of golf designed for every skill level.
Legends Walk is the only lighted golf course in Central Florida, allowing for tee times day & night! Kids 12 and under always play free with paying adult so bring the family out for a great night under the lights!
If you’re in the Orlando/Kissimmee area and have some free time to play a round of golf, or you’re looking for a vacation resort for you and your family, put Orange Lake Resort on your must-visit list.