Part IV of "The Magic of Disney Golf": Work Your Entire Game at Disney's Eagle Pines

By Elaine Gallant, Contributor

ORLANDO, FL - One look at the scorecard for Walt Disney World Resort's Eagle Pines Golf Course at Bonnet Creek will send your heart skipping like a stone across water, as water is just about everywhere.

The good news is that while it's present on 16 of Eagle Pines' 18 championship holes, its purpose is more to enhance than to punish. Surprisingly, it is the flat, savanna-like fairways and the numerous, pampas-filled wastelands that actually steal the show.

Considered a low-profile course, Eagle Pines plays level with, or slightly below, its bordering terrain. As a result, drainage is toward the center, which then feeds into the waste bunkers and eventually into the naturally, wooded wetlands. The fairways do have undulations - so do the greens - but as sister course to nearby Osprey Ridge, it appears as a complete opposite.

According to Kevin Weickel, Disney's Head Professional and Tournament Director of the National Car Rental Classic, Pete Dye and fellow architect Tom Fazio were given the choice in 1991 of which two parcels of land at Bonnet Creek they preferred to develop.

One featured high and dry, sandy ridges, while the other, Florida wetland and swamp. Dye deferred to Fazio who chose to "take the high road" that later became Osprey Ridge.

"It was easier to mess with," Weickel says. "But it just turned out to be to their fortes. Fazio is known more for those types of courses where Dye probably has a few more marshy, Florida wetland courses."

Dye, who is also known for his use of railroad ties around tee boxes and as borders along waterways, incorporated natural grasses and followed the contours of the land at Eagle Pines. Thus, his work earned the course certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System in September 2000.

Your work at Eagle Pines however, is to use every part of your game. The opening hole, for instance, is a wide, 380-yard, par 4 that spreads beyond a large waste bunker off the tee, then funnels directly into the forest. An accurate drive here will keep the water deep and left and the small pond to the right, out of play.

The water carry at the par 3 number 3 with its false back suggests a soft, flop shot if you missed the green, and the traps along the 470-yard, par 5 number 4, surely require finesse.

At the number one handicapped, par 4 number 5, the challenge is its length at 463 yards, compounded by wind and a dogleg right along a forest wall that comes into play. Make it around the bend, and you'll find a well-guarded green, front and left, by a small bunker and a body of water that eventually connects to the fairway of number 6.

Water again plays havoc at holes 7 through 11. But by the 190-yard, par 3 number 15, there's an added element - a wall that supports the elevated green from a small pond.

"The green is a slight optical illusion," says Weickel. "The wall is not straight across as it may appear from the tee. A ball hit center right will usually fall short and hit the wall. But a ball of the same distance hit left will land on the green."

Strongest of the two par 4's at Eagle Pines are the finishing holes, both of which offer wasteland off the tees and water in play along the fairways and greens. The more impressive is the dogleg left, 414-yard number 18 with its heavy right-to-left tilting fairway toward the pond.

Weickel suggests the best strategy here is to play to the top of the plateau on the right, giving you an elevated but level play onto the well-bunkered green. He adds that any other position "will have the ball above your feet or on an angle of sorts." And, should the pin be positioned back right or front left, the long green can carry up to a three-club differential.

All in all, Eagle Pines offers numerous birdie and eagle opportunities with its moderate undulations and wide-open fairways, but by no means will it happen easily.

There's plenty of challenge at Eagle Pines, which is why Golf Florida rates it as one of the "Top 100 Golf Courses in the State" and why Golf Digest's Places to Play gave it 4.5 stars. The LPGA has been here, so too has the PGA Tour and the Senior PGA Tour qualifiers. And since 1993, Eagle Pines has co-hosted with Osprey Ridge the Bryant Gumbel/Walt Disney World Celebrity Tournament benefiting the United Negro College Fund.

From the back tees, Eagle Pines plays 6,772 yards and carries a course/slope rating of 72.5/135. The silver tees play 6,309 yards at 70.1/129; the golds play 66.6/119; and the reds play 68.0/111.

Eagle Pines is located at Disney's Bonnet Creek location within a 10-minute drive between Pleasure Island and the Magic Kingdom. Also, as with all Disney courses, resort guests receive complimentary "to and from" taxi vouchers. For non-resort guests, take Interstate 4 to exit 26-B and follow Epcot Center Drive to "Disney's Golf Courses" at the third exit. Then follow the signs to Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf courses at Bonnet Creek.

Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32803
(407)-WDW-GOLF or 407-939-4653

See: Part V of "The Magic of Disney Golf" - Lake Buena Vista and Oak Trail.

Elaine GallantElaine Gallant, Contributor

Elaine Gallant is a freelance writer specializing in golf, tennis, and travel. Her many experiences with travel and golf have taken her around the Untied States, Europe, Greece, the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaiian Islands, Australia and points in between.

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