KISSIMMEE, Florida – There are several popular golf courses surrounding Walt Disney World and Universal Theme Parks. If you’re a golfer and have been looking for the “perfect” course to visit while on vacation down here with your family, I’ve found one and much more all in one place.
LEGENDS CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF COURSE
The 7072-yard Orange Lake Legends Championship Golf Course was designed by Arnold Palmer and offers golfers a magical journey on a course that brings you two distinct golfing experiences rolled into one 18-hole course. The front nine resembles a Scottish Link Style Course with beautiful flowing fairways and a natural setting on some holes that are reminiscent of days when Mid-mashies, Mashie Niblick and Putting Cleeks were found in every golf bag.
Hole No. 4 is a massive 610-yards from the “tips” and challenges golfers to test both their driving skills and fairway woods over and around some strategically placed Hazards. “Good luck to ya Laddie.”
The back nine has its own distinct personality with towering southern pines. With water on almost every hole, the fairways are lined with stately live oaks waving majestically as your shot tries to find a safe passageway with waste areas adjacent to your tee shot landing areas. For a brief moment you’ll catch yourself thinking that you are golfing in South Carolina.
My round on The Legends Course was enjoyable featuring unique settings, both natural and man made, and the conditions were superb, about as perfect as any course I have played on in a long time. The tee boxes were over seeded and gave you a nice comfortable driving opportunity on every hole. The fairways were lush green around the edges and the tight lie areas were well manicured and groomed. Bermuda Grass was the predominant vegetation found in the rough, and bunkers were filled with beautiful white sand that is seldom found on public courses. The most impressive part of my day was the condition of the greens. They were awesome!
Remember, it’s January, not necessarily the best time of year to keep ahead of the numerous strains Mother Nature can bring on a golf course’s 18 greens. Whatever they are doing to the greens here at the Orange Lake Legends Course it is working to perfection. Every green offered a smooth roll. There was never a time when your putt did not roll where you directed it. This was a pleasant surprise that exceeded my expectations and enhanced my opportunity to make more pars.
The Legends Course has multiple sets of tee boxes to ensure that all skill levels can enjoy a challenging round. The Yellow tees (par-72, 5,188 yards, 69.6 / 120) are there to afford you the opportunity to enjoy your day while having a chance for a respectable score. The White tees (par-72, 5,780 yards, 67.5 / 121) seemed to be receptive to the 12-16 handicap player while the Blue tees (par-72, 6,263 yards, 70.3 / 124) may add some difficulty clearing hazards out around 160. The Black tees (par-72, 6,263 yards, 70.3 / 124) are definitely for the lower handicap group and will give you a different look at some holes. The Teal tees (par-72, 7,072 yards, 74.3 / 132) are reserved for the “very best” and should be used only if you are someone who’s up to the challenge.
My visit was not just about playing on the Legends Championship Course. It also included looking at three other golfing opportunities that Orange Lake Golf Resort has to offer. When I talk with the Orange Lake Golf Professional Anthony Mastrangelo, I accepted his offer to also play a round on the Legends Walk Course which is located in the North Village of Orange Lake Resort. The Legends Walk Course 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.
This par 27 course wasn’t exactly what I expected when I picked up my hand cart, strapped on my bag of clubs, grabbed a couple of yellow Titleist balls and head to the first tee at 6:30 p.m. At first I found the lighting to be a little difficult to adjust to but after playing the first hole my eyes quickly accommodated to the LED lights and off I went into the night playing a fairly difficult golf course and enjoying every minute. Congratulations to Orange Lake for finding a way to “light up the night” and offer guests another way to enjoy a fabulous and popular golf amenity.
RESERVE at ORANGE LAKE
Located in the West Village of Orange Lake Resort, The Reserve measures 6,505 yards with 18 holes and expansive greens specifically redesigned to be in harmony with carefully preserved wetlands to give you the taste of natural Florida. While this course is the shorter of two championship courses, it offers a challenging layout to test golfers of all skill levels. Driving range available during the day and lighted for nighttime use.
CRANES BEND at ORANGE LAKE
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 the picturesque fountain lake with its famous island green. This scenic course is also great for family play.
Next time you’re in the Orlando/Kissimmee area, I highly recommend you book a tee time at Orange Lake. The entrance to Orange Lake Resort is gated but access can be gained by proper identification with includes but not limited to a driver’s license, a tee time reservation, and cordial smile. The guards are there to keep everyone safe and will do everything possible to ensure that you have an enjoyable day. Tee times can be made by visiting Orange Lake’s website.
Enjoy your visit…I certainly did!