Magical golf can be found near The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Harry Potter fanatics of all ages love to immerse in the world of Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort. Since its opening in 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been a huge success.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter sits a short distance from some of Orlando's best golf.
Wizarding World of Harry PotterMetroWest Golf ClubOrange County National - Crooked Cat golf courseBella Collina golf course

Chances are if you visit Orlando, the Harry Potter attraction will be high on your or another family member's list.

Once you've visited the park and perhaps enjoyed some Shepherd's Pie and Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks restaurant, the good news is you can easily be on the first tee in a matter of minutes. Some of the best golf courses in Orlando are located a short distance from the Universal Orlando Resort.

Courses within five minutes

Only four miles from Universal Orlando, MetroWest Golf Club, which underwent a comprehensive enhancement program in 2013, is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design with lots of undulation, large, mature oak trees and spring-fed lakes.

Near the Orange County Convention Center is Shingle Creek Golf Club, a resort course designed by Dave Harman with fast, firm greens and five sets of tees, and Grande Pines Golf Club, a Steve Smyers/Nick Faldo collaboration with high-profile features and contours and multi-tiered greens.

Even if you totally submerge in everything Harry Potter and don't have time for nine holes, much less 18, head to Dewey's Indoor Golf & Sports Grill, located five blocks from Universal Orlando. The expansive, high-end sports grill has 10 top-rated golf simulators, a 40-foot putting green, 70 TVs highlighted by a giant 25-foot screen, a Las Vegas-style bar and lounge and outdoor patio.

Courses within 15 minutes

Two of Florida's highly rated golf resorts are located nearby.

The Grand Cypress Resort has 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus-designed golf. The 27-hole North/South/East configuration has terraced fairways, innovative mounding and plateau greens, and the 18-hole New Course, appointed with stone bridges, five-foot flag pins and deep pot bunkers, is Nicklaus' tribute to the Old Course at St. Andrews.

For Rees Jones design fans, one of his best efforts is the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club adjacent to the luxury resort hotel. Stunningly picturesque, it's set in a wetland preserve with giant stands of pine and cypress trees and high-impact bunkers.

If you only have time for a quick nine, try Marriott's Grande Vista Golf Club, where the oak and cypress tree-dotted, par-32 Ron Garl design is suitable for all skill levels. It also has an impressive multi-faceted, 35-acre dedicated practice facility and an upscale clubhouse.

Courses within 20 minutes

The southwest section of Orlando near Universal Orlando is sprinkled with a wide variety of high profile, upscale golf communities such as Isleworth, Bay Hill and Keene's Pointe, which are private membership clubs.

Luckily, some of the golf clubs in the area are accessible to the public and offer exceptional golf experiences and great value. The menu includes Stoneybrook West Golf Club, an Arthur Hills design with strategic mounding, rolling fairways and speedy Tif-Eagle greens; West Orange Country Club, a tree-studded layout with smallish greens designed by Lloyd Clifton; and Windermere Country Club, a Ward Northrup design set between Lake Crescent and Lake Roberts that weaves through marshes and wetlands.

Courses within 30 minutes

For those who want to venture a bit farther from Hogwarts Castle, the rewards are, well, magical.

At Bella Collina near Clermont, you can luxuriate in another castle of sorts, the uber-luxurious $40 million clubhouse, a phenomenal stone edifice overlooking a Nick Faldo design. The course at Bella Collina is a superb private club-style golf experience with a hilly and undulating layout overlooking two lakes, Lake Apopka and Lake Siena.

Nearby is Sanctuary Ridge Golf Club, the closest thing Florida has to a mountain course. You simply won't believe you're still in the Sunshine State. There are radical elevation shifts, exaggerated elevated tees and sloping fairways.

Well worth the half-hour trip, too, is Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge, which has two exceptional championship layouts, Panther Lake and Crooked Cat, and a nine-hole short course, The Tooth. In addition, the 911-acre complex has a 42-acre practice range, 33,000-square-foot clubhouse, 22,000-square-foot putting green, golf academy and 50-room lodge.

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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