Renovated Falcon's Fire Golf Club regains place among Orlando's elite
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – When Falcon's Fire Golf Club opened in 1993, the Orlando golf scene looked a lot different than today. Behemoths Reunion, ChampionsGate and Orange County National simply didn't exist yet.
Today, there are about 75 public golf courses in Orlando and the surrounding area.
Recognizing the old adage that if you're standing still, you're falling behind, Falcon's Fire completed a renovation in October 2009. It included new greens, which were resurfaced with TifEagle turf. Bunkers also were reworked to make the course more visually intimidating.
The result? The re-emergence of Falcon's Fire as one of Orlando's elite, daily-fee golf courses.
Playing Falcon's Fire Golf Club
Designed by Rees Jones, the golf course features plenty of water - particularly on the back nine - but most holes remain dry short of the green. This design characteristic adds flexibility by allowing the weekend hacker to enjoy the golf course without losing a million golf balls. And it still challenges the better ball-striker by making him or her consider trajectory on approach shots.
About the only holes on which the run-up shot is not available are the par-3s, diverse in distance but requiring an aerial attack.
Most holes at Falcon's Fire appear straight on the scorecard, but fairway bunkers frame them in such a way that careful thought should go into the placement of every tee shot.
No. 2, for example, is a simple, short par 4, but a drive down the right side flirts with a bunker and gives players a tough angle into the green - from the fairway or not. The proper play is a left-to-right shot down the left side of the fairway.
Falcon's Fire's 12th hole offers the opposite, as tee shots left feed toward a bunker, leaving a narrow angle into the green.
The second and the 12th appear straight but require dogleg-type tee shots. If you miss it on the wrong side of the fairway, be prepared to hit your approach shot into the skinny part of the green.
Falcon's Fire's new greens are faster, more undulating
Just like a steak knife, green contours get dull over time, so the renovation at Falcon's Fire G.C. included a fresh sharpening. While the increase in undulation isn't drastic visually, when you add speed on the greens to the mix, it's a tricky combination.
And while we're on the subject of green speed, you'll want to pay attention to Falcon's Fire Golf Club's new TifEagle surfaces. Arguably, the speed and smoothness of greens rank as the most important characteristics in determining the overall quality of a golf course, and the new surfaces at Falcon's Fire are some of the purest in town.
Just remember, putts from above the hole require a surgeon's touch.
Factor the wind at Falcon's Fire
If you've played golf in in Florida, you know the terrain is flat and exposed. The wind regularly gusts 20 to 25 mph, no matter the season. The conditions at Falcon's Fire are no exception, And if the greens are running fast, the wind can play an even larger role.
Particularly tricky, the green at No. 13 features a tiered design and a position along a lake that exposes it to the elements.
Falcon's Fire Golf Club: The verdict
With the recent renovations at Falcon's Fire, you can bet conditions are some of the best in the area, and its proximity just three miles from Disney means it's convenient for the Mickey-goers.
Green fees at Falcon's Fire sit on par with the area's other high-end, daily-fee golf courses. It stands out among similarly priced resort courses in that Falcon's Fire remains a stand-alone golf course with no hotel. As a result, there's no need to book a stay-and-play package to get the best rate; all golfers are treated equally.
March 19, 2010