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Golf in Florida - My Guilty Pleasure! - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Golf

When you have three villas, ‘holidays’ spent in Orlando tend to be a whirl of decorating and maintenance, but over the years I have managed to sneak away to play three different golf courses local to Highlands Reserve; Polo Park, Orange County Natural and Highlands Reserve itself several times. They each have their own characteristics and a mixture of playability.

At Polo Park there are two options, one on each side of Highway 27 and I played the one on the right as you head towards US192. It cost only $11 including buggy which is very reasonable and there is a small pro-shop with limited accessories but the staff are very pleasant and helpful. The course itself is quite short and par is 35. Most of the holes are straight forward but there’s a couple with hazards (ie pond! ) so take plenty of balls in case of shots off the mark! This course is well suited for the beginner/higher handicapped, particularly ideal for taking youngsters too to introduce them to golfing.

Highlands Reserve Golf Course is a superbly designed course in the heart of the villa residency. At a cost of $30 with the buggy it is without doubt great value for money, there are also great special afternoon and early evening offers. The pro-shop is adequately stocked with accessories and there’s a bar for refreshments including delicious panini’s. Again staff are very friendly and helpful, especially the lady on the beverage cart who may tempt you to a cold beer on your round!

At a par 72 this is a very challenging course; there’s not water but lots of sand (a bucket and spade may be required for some holes! ) – also my tip is to stay out of the trees that line each fairways as there’s not much of a gap to get out of them. The greens are a mixture of tricky slopes and straights shots, so be wary of each one. This course is suited to the high to Mid handicapper but don’t be surprised if you come off the course with a low 90’s score as this course can easily rob you of shots. Also at Highlands are several target greens, a practice bunker, chipping and putting greens and at just $6 for a bucket of balls it is an ideal place to practice

Orange County National is situated on Phil Ritson Way off the 429 Toll road. On arrival you are greeted by a couple of gentlemen who will take your clubs from the car, place them on the buggy and give each club head a clean. After parking your car in the huge car park you make your way to the Pro-shop which is massive with every conceivable golf accessory available. The cost is $45 per round and if you are staying in Florida you qualify for residents rates, again compared to the UK this is great value for money. There are two courses to choose from; Panther and Crooked Cat and we played the Panther course which is par 72.

In the buggy is a screen with GPS and an electronic score card is included in the options menu. You make your way to the first tee and you log your arrival with the starter, who then activates the GPS system on your buggy. After that you just have to hit the ball! This sounds easy enough but the course is very difficult having a mixture of water, sand, deep rough and tree lined fairways. This is a tough golf course, not for the feint hearted – I would suggest mid to low handicap. After all 18 holes the 19th is a blessing with a full bar and restaurant. This course is a cut above and I can’t wait to sneak off to try The Crooked Cat on our next ‘holiday’ !

There are just too many golf courses to count in Orlando and it is a very popular destination for groups of golfers. We often rent our villas out to groups who enjoy nothing more than playing a different course a day but then returning to their ‘home from home’ at night to enjoy a cool drink by the pool or a wind-down in the Jacuzzi. But for the time being I have to be content to sneak off in the early morning to get a round in . . . . . . . . . . . unless the ladies are out shopping of course, then I don’t think they even notice I’m gone! !

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