I took the entire family to Disney World in Orlando a couple years ago. We had a great time, and the kids didn’t want to leave. I’ll be honest though, after four days of Daffy Duck, cotton candy, and waiting in line, I needed a break. You guessed it, I made sure to bring my sticks with me. What followed was 54 holes of golf in two days. My wife wasn’t too thrilled but hey, a guy has to do what a guy has to do.
This wasn’t the only time I played golf in Orlando, but it had certainly been a while. With a little research, I was once again reminded just how much great golf there is to be played here. Since I haven’t played many of the courses myself, I thought I’d hear what you guys thought the best public tracks were and why.
Our collective thoughts are below.
Eagle Creek Golf Club
Located just a short drive from the Orlando International Airport, Eagle Creek Golf Club is the perfect stop upon arrival or departure.
Designed by Ron Carl and Howard Swan, Eagle Creek is a seamless blend of Scottish and South Florida design. Expansive white sand bunkers and bulkhead guarded greens are accented by verdant fairways and crystalline lakes.
This wide-open layout can be prone to afternoon winds which make picking the right club a challenge.
If you want to step all the way back, be my guest. This course has plenty of teeth and will prove a worthy test.
Maybe you’re not looking to punish yourself though. The good news is that there are four other sets of tees to choose from.
Always in great condition and unique experience, Eagle Creek gets my vote.
Falcon’s Fire Golf Club
The name Falcon’s Fire just sounds cool, doesn’t it? Trust me, the course is just as awesome.
Designed by the venerable Rees Jones, Falcon’s Fire is ranked as one of the top public facilities both in Orlando and nationally.
I’ve played this golf course a couple of times and I can never believe what great shape it’s in. There isn’t a blade of grass out of place anywhere.
The amenities are out of this world too. The clubhouse has everything you could ever need, and attentive staff are knowledgeable and eager to help you out however they can.
If you’re going to be in town for a while, be sure to check out the stay and play packages.
Hawk’s Landing Golf Club
Sitting on more than 220 acres, Hawk’s Landing Golf Club is the crown jewel of the World Center Marriott Resort.
Designed by world-renown architect Bob Cupp Jr., Hawk’s Landing is a perfect blend of natural landscape and well-designed holes meant to be both fun and challenging.
If you have the chance to play here early in the morning, you’re in for a treat as the natural world comes to life on a canvas of verdant green fairways, sparkling blue lakes, and white sand bunkers.
Even though the course isn’t long, it demands that you play strategically. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
There’s plenty of other activities for the family as well at this first-class resort.
A vacation destination and golf course that won’t disappoint.
Mystic Dunes Golf Club
Just one of the many activities to partake in at Mystic Dunes Resort is the golf course.
I haven’t played here but our readers have nothing but good things to say.
Situated just a short drive away from Disney World, this Gary Koch design was given 4.5 stars by Golf Digest.
A great test of golf for the good player and enjoyable even for rank beginners.
If you stay at Mystic Dunes, you’ll receive heavily discounted green fees too.
North Shore Golf Club
North Shore Golf Club was designed by Mike Dasher. The layout meanders through native wetlands where flora and fauna are plentiful.
The course is a tale of two different nines. The “Modern Nine” is a links layout that’s open and has expansive bunkers and large greens. The “Classic Nine” is more intimate and makes its way through a centuries old oak grove forest.
North Shore has plenty of character and asks that you hit a wide array of shots.
Enjoyable to play and reasonably priced.
Panther Lake at Orange County National
There’s plenty of courses to choose from at Orange County National. My personal favorite is Panther Lake.
Rolling meadows, open wetlands, and pine forests characterize the diverse landscape on which Panther Lake was constructed. What’s even better is that there’s no development around the course.
Even though Panther Lake is generous off the tee, its difficulty lies in the approach shots. Many of the greens are elevated and surrounded by bunkers.
A ball striker’s track, Panther National is both beautiful and challenging.
Rio Pinar Country Club
Rio Pinar has been a staple of Orlando golf for more than 50 years. Formerly the home to both PGA and LPGA Tour events, this course’s timeless character can still be felt today.
Classic Florida design has this course’s fairways lined with pine trees. The greens are protected by undulating mounds and penal bunkers.
The locals will tell you this course is sneakily difficult and scoring well means firing on all parts of your game.
Steeped in history and tradition, Rio Pinar is a throwback that’s more than relevant today.
Metro West Golf Club
Less than 10 minutes from Universal Studios, you’ll find Metro West Golf Club.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened for play in 1987.
This is target golf. Thousands of trees, water hazards, and dozens of bunkers mean that you’ll need to hit where you’re looking.
What I remember just as much as the spectacular golf course, is the level of customer service I received here. Like nowhere else, the staff goes above and beyond to cater to your every need. These folks are proud to be here and it shows.
Celebration Golf Club
Who wouldn’t want to play at a place called Celebration Golf Club? Doesn’t it just sound happy?
Our readers say it’s all that, and a lot more. Here, golf is meant to be experienced, not just played.
Designed by father and son, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Sr., this parkland course is all about the second shot. Strategically placed bunkers and closely mown runoff areas present a challenge that allows you to play a variety of shots should you miss the green.
Known for being in excellent condition and moderately priced, expect to have a great day at Celebration Golf Club.
Disney’s Magnolia Course
While my wife and kids pressed on with their grand Disney adventure, I broke away on our final afternoon and snuck in a round at Disney’s Magnolia Course.
Formerly home to a PGA Tour Event, the Magnolia is quintessential South Florida golf. Large oak trees line the fairways and force you to move the ball both ways off the tee and into the greens.
White sand bunkers lurk throughout the course and are waiting to penalize poor shots.
Rated four stars by Golf Digest, the Magnolia Course is a great option for anyone away on vacation.
When you come to Orlando, one thing is certain. You won’t run out of things to do. What I love so much about this city is that there’s something for everybody. While I certainly love spending time with my family checking out one ride after another, there comes a point where I need a break. That would be golf.
Based on the feedback I got from our readers, Orlando’s identity as a golf town is alive and well. With so many great courses to choose from, the hard part is narrowing down a list.
Many thanks to everyone that continues to chime in about the best public courses around the country. If you have additional thoughts or questions, let us know in the comments.