Go low: How to score well on the National Course at ChampionsGate Golf Club

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Greg Norman designed the National Course at ChampionsGate Golf Club to emulate the best that American golf has to offer. This traditional style layout puts a premium on golf course management, which means you probably don't want to hit driver off the tee of every par 4 and par 5.

18 Holes | Semi-Private/Resort | Par: 72 | 7197 yards
ChampionsGate Golf Club - National - No. 5
The short par-4 fifth on the National Course at ChampionsGate Golf Club is a risk-reward hole with a lot of emphasis on the risk part.
ChampionsGate Golf Club - National - No. 5ChampionsGate Golf Club - National - No. 16ChampionsGate Golf Club - National - No. 17ChampionsGate Golf Club - National - No. 18

Still, this is a golf course where you have to play to your strengths. Accurate drivers may want to risk it on the short par 4s, but most players will be better off taking what the golf course gives them.

Here is a guide to scoring well on the National Course at ChampionsGate Golf Club.

No. 1 – The first hole is pretty straightforward. A good drive down the right center of the fairway of this 434-yard par 4 sets up a simple approach to a fairly generous green.

No. 2 – With two large bunkers guarding the green and water right, the best play is the center of the green, no matter where the flagstick is, especially if you play from the back tee at 203 yards.

No. 3 – At 517 yards, this par 5 is a good opportunity to score. Long hitters can carry the bunker on the left side, setting up a reasonable opportunity to hit this green in two. Even if you play it in three shots, just avoid the massive bunkers throughout the hole, and you should be able to give yourself a realistic birdie putt.

No. 4 – Off the tee of this 478-yard par 4, you'll want to aim at the right corner of a series of bunkers on the left side of the fairway. Avoid the waste bunkers on the right. Favor the left side of the green on the approach.

No. 5 – Long hitters will be tempted to cut the corner of this dogleg left 323-yard par 4, but miss the green with a driver and there's a pretty good chance you'll be teeing it up again. That's because you must carry wetlands, and anything through the fairway could be lost. The percentage play is a hybrid or long iron off the tee to set up a short approach.

No. 6 – At 228 yards, this par 3 appears more intimidating than it is. Miss the green to the right, and it's a relatively simple up and down.

No. 7 – There are lots of bunkers on this 384-yard par 4. Just favor the right side of the fairway with a driver or fairway wood to open up the shot to this oblong green.

No. 8 – Position is everything on this 554-yard par 5. There are three large bunkers on the way to the green. Favor the left side off the tee and the right side on the layup for the best angle to the green.

No. 9 – This 403-yard dogleg left has a wide fairway, so whip out the driver to get a short club in your hand for a possible birdie opportunity.

ChampionsGate Golf Club's National Course: The back nine

No. 10 – With no fairway bunkers off the tee, this short par 4 will let you hit driver to set up a wedge shot to get it close to the hole.

No. 11 - There's nothing tricky about this 211-yard par 3, but you do have to land the ball on the green; it isn't receptive to run-up shots, but there's little trouble, so you can try to hit it close for birdie.

No. 12 – With eight large fairway bunkers -- four on each side -- the trick is to take them out of play. At 389 yards, the hole isn't long, so driver isn't necessary.

No. 13 – At 627 yards, this is another intimidating par 5. Keep it left all the way to set up a good approach on this dogleg right hole.

No. 14 – From the back tee at 210 yards, this hole is really intimidating with all carry over wetlands. But the landing area is larger than it appears, so pick a club and trust your swing.

No. 15 – This moderate length par 4 wraps around a lake to the left, so you'll want to favor the right of the fairway. A fairway wood would be a good choice for a lot of players.

No. 16 – The 16th may be short, but it's anything but easy. At just more than 300 yards from the tips, it's difficult to resist temptation. But if you're protecting a good score, an iron off the tee is the best play, especially with a back left pin position guarded by a tree.

No. 17 – At 636 yards, this double dogleg par 5 can seem daunting. But if you hit three accurate shots, making par shouldn't be a problem.

No. 18 – The safer tee shot on this 451-yard par 4 is the left side of the fairway, but you can cut off a good bit of yardage going down the right side of the dogleg right.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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