Orlando golf luxury: Get the VIP treatment on the area's best high-end courses
ORLANDO, Fla. -- You don't need Tiger Woods' Isleworth address to get the VIP treatment on the best Orlando golf courses.
There are scores of courses throughout Orange County for every size and budget -- and that includes some top high-end picks at luxury resort properties as well as semi-private golf clubs.
That's good news.
Want better news? High-end golf is still on the cheap side in Orlando compared to some other warm weather golf destinations such as Scottsdale, Ariz., and Las Vegas.
Here is where to golf like a high roller in Orlando:
Waldorf Astoria Golf Club
Just around the corner from Walt Disney World Resort, the new Waldorf Astoria Golf Club pampers guests with such amenities as valet parking, spike replacement and cleaning, complimentary breakfast bar and cold towels at the turn -- plus a full practice facility to groove your game.
The traditionally styled Rees Jones design is void of any residential development surrounding the course, which boasts fast, firm bermuda fairways and greens. Course rangers who pass by will even help you fish out balls from the native grasses surrounding the fairways.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Arnold Palmer not only owns the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, but he also tees it up here regularly. Today's pros like it here as well, as the PGA Tour event at Bay Hill has become one of the favorite tournaments during the pre-Masters spring season.
The semi-private, walker-friendly course is also fresh off a recent facelift, which included rebuilding the bunkers, shaving run-off areas and installing brand new Emerald Bermuda greens. A bonus for daily players here -- you'll have two more par 5s to try and make birdie, compared to the pros, who play the course as a par 70.
To get an exclusive tee time at Bay Hill, however, you have to stay at the 70-room lodge on site, home to a spa and plenty of other top amenities fit for The King.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes
The luxury Ritz-Carlton brand boasts one of Orlando's ultimate golf experiences at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes, set in the headwaters of the Florida Everglades and full of palms, live oaks and palmettos. The club boasts an 18-hole course designed by Greg Norman, plus firm turf conditioning to promote creative, low-running approach shots.
A round here also features Ritz-Carlton's Caddie Concierge service, forecaddies who assist groups with playing tips, course maintenance and hunt down the occasional stray ball.
The clubhouse is also among the area's best, home to full locker room facilities as well as Fairways Pub, which boasts a wide variety of dishes such as Maine crab and corn chowder, bronzed Florida grouper and beef tip pasta.
Disney's Osprey Ridge Golf Course
While the Walt Disney World Resort's other three championship courses are traditional Joe Lee designs from the 1970s, Disney's Osprey Ridge Golf Course is beautifully molded, creating a quiet setting far removed from the theme park mayhem despite being just a chip shot away. Like every course at Disney, it's a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary course, and golf carts are equipped with GPS.
If high-end golf to you means playing where the pros play, tee it up on Disney's Magnolia Golf Course, host of the Children's Miracle Network Classic on the PGA Tour.
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate
Luxury hotel brand Omni has a golf centerpiece at its Orlando property, ChampionsGate.
The resort boasts two Greg Norman designs -- and they're polar opposites. The National Course is a traditional parkland littered with trees and ponds, while the International Course is a wide-open, links-style course with sand and firm turf.
Golfers can also play the lighted par-3 course at ChampionsGate, get right with their swing at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, or head for the resort's spa after golf.
Harmony Golf Preserve
Troon Golf rolls out the red carpet for its guests no matter where the course is, public or private.
Harmony Golf Preserve, about 40 minutes outside Orlando, features not only Troon-worthy service and conditioning, but also a secluded and scenic course. About the only noises you'll hear are from the budding bird life.
The course, design by Johnny Miller, sits on a 260-acre preserve, most of which is entirely void of any housing on the perimeter.
The course also rewards aggressive, long drives -- and what's more luxurious than that?
August 13, 2010