Tranquilo Golf Club in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.: A Tom Fazio redesign for all seasons

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When you play Tranquilo Golf Club with its lush foliage, live oak trees and protected wetlands, you hardly realize the course is in the middle of Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. The golf experience has an air of exclusivity and seclusion.

Tranquilo Golf Club
Tranquilo Golf Club is adjacent to the luxurious Four Seasons Orlando Resort.
Tranquilo Golf ClubTranquilo Golf Club2Tranquilo Golf ClubTranquilo G.C.

Set adjacent to the luxurious Four Seasons Orlando Resort in the Golden Oak resort/residential community in Walt Disney World, the serene and scenic Tranquilo Golf Club is open to the public. Golden Oak is Disney's new, private, luxury, residential community of lavish, custom homes.

Tranquilo Golf Club history

Chances are, you might already be familiar with Tranquilo. A Tom Fazio design, it originally opened in 1992 as Osprey Ridge, a part of Disney's portfolio of golf courses.

In 2014, Fazio was recruited to re-invent and re-design the course as Tranquilo Golf Club. Fazio created a completely new hole, renovated the bunkers and expanded and re-positioned landscaping to create better visibility and airflow.

Tranquilo's greens were resurfaced with Tiff Eagle Bermuda grass. The new hole is the 16th, a 163-yard par 3 that has a bunker that stretches along the left side from tee to green.

Playing to par 71 with four sets of tees, Tranquilo measures 6,901 yards from the Gold tees, 6,450 yards from the Blue, 6,015 yards from the White and 5,110 yards from the Red.

Tranquilo Golf Club: Picturesque and playable

A certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, Tranquilo is picturesque and playable. Fazio is masterful at creating visually appealing courses that are challenging for scratch players but not overly penal for weekend golfers.

Varying elevations, some elevated tees, spectacular bunkering and numerous Southern Live Oak trees draped with Spanish moss dominate the golf experience. The lush surroundings also provide an inviting habitat for wildlife -- such as deer, wild turkeys, osprey and turtles -- that you'll occasionally see cavorting near the fairways.

The course is a walk in the park, so to speak, as you'll only see the hotel from the first and 18th holes, and the rest of the time you're engulfed by pristine natural surroundings. Tranquilo has a great mix of short par 4s that require tee shots to moderately wide fairways as well as a selection of wide-open holes and fun-to-play par 3s.

The no. 1-handicap hole is the brutish, 583-yard, par-5 seventh, which has water on the left off the tee and a smallish green with a left front bunker anxiously waiting to gobble up poor approach shots.

When you get to the 18th hole, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find you won't need your driver on some ominous, scorecard-destroying par 5. Instead, the finishing hole is a 217-yard par 3 requiring a tee shot with a pond to the left and a green fronted by large bunker.

Amenities at Tranquilo Golf Club

A special treat after a round is enjoying Cuban-American fare at Plancha restaurant in the clubhouse. Appointed with dark wood flooring and plush furnishings, Plancha transcends the traditional golf grill experience with its unique dining room and exceptional menu.

You can celebrate a good day on the course with the Plancha Burger with chorizo, madura and white cheddar; a classic El Cubano grilled sandwich; a Grilled Grouper sandwich with citrus slaw; or other Cuban delicacies.

Cigar smokers are welcomed at Tranquilo at a special outdoor smoking lounge area. You can also purchase high quality cigars from their humidor, including a hand-rolled cigar made exclusively for them.

The well appointed locker rooms have showers. Golf carts have a GPS navigation system with two-way communication, a ball washer and coolers stocked with bottled water. Enhancing the overall experience are amenities such as valet parking, fresh fruit (apples and oranges) at three places on the course, complimentary range balls and an ice-cold towel after your round.

Tranquilo Golf Club: The verdict

Tranquilo is a quintessential, Tom Fazio-designed, resort-style course that's playable for all skill levels. Fazio's enhanced design provides a great balance of risk and reward opportunities in a beautiful, natural playing environment.

The attentive service level from the staff presumably takes its cue from the celebrated Four Seasons Hotel that sits just a nine iron or so away from the first tee.

Ed SchmidtEd Schmidt, Contributor

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

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