Whatever your reason for visiting Florida, there's an Orlando golf resort for you

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

Orlando has 110 golf courses within a 45-mile radius, and many golfers are overwhelmed by the choices. It's like arriving at some mammoth buffet where you're befuddled by all the sumptuous entrees and desserts.

National Course at ChampionsGate G.C.
Championsgate boasts a Leadbetter Academy to go with on-site accommodations and 36 holes of golf.
National Course at ChampionsGate G.C.Shingle Creek Golf ClubLegends golf course at Orange Lake ResortWaldorf Astoria Golf ClubMission Inn Resort - El Campeon Course - 17th

If your group wants to play golf in Orlando, you may need some guidance based on your own needs and desires. Chances are, you probably fall into one or more of these group types:

Family getaway

"I want to take the entire family out on the golf course."

Family bonding on the fairways is possible at Disney's Oak Trail, a 2,913 yard, nine-hole, par-36 walking course and the nine-hole "Faldo" course at the Faldo Golf Institute -- part of the Marriott Grande Vista Resort -- which has a 2,308-yard, par-32 design.

Florida thaw out

"I'm snowed in up north and just want affordable, convenient golf in the sunshine with palm trees."

If you need to thaw out and want to walk amid the palmettos and palms, tee up at Celebration Golf Club, a park-like design that weaves through a natural wetland setting (accommodations available on-site at Bohemian Hotel Celebration) and Orange Lake Resort, which has four quintessentially Florida layouts: The Legends, The Reserve, Legends Walk and Crane's Bend.

Follow the pros

"I want to stay-and-play where the pros compete and stay themselves."

Have you got game? You'll definitely find out at these PGA Tour stops: Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Arnold Palmer Invitational in March), where the Dick Wilson/Arnold Palmer-designed Championship Course is an in-your-face challenge built along the shores of the Butler Chain of Lakes with one of the Tour's most celebrated finishing holes, a 458-yard, par-4 dogleg around a menacing lake.

Walt Disney World, home to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in November, utilizes the Magnolia Course and Palm Course during the tournament. Disney's Lake Buena Vista Course is a testy track often used for high-level amateur and junior tournaments.

Hitting for history

"I'm looking for an 'historic golf' experience. Is that possible in Orlando?"

You bet your history books there's historic golf in Orlando. The El Campeon course at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the Hills was designed and built by Scotsman C.E. Clarke in 1926. The third oldest course in Florida, El Campeon has very un-Florida-like tee-to-green elevations up to 85 feet.

Evoking a definite historic ambiance is the New Course at Grand Cypress Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design inspired by the Old Course in St. Andrews, with features such as a starter's hut overlooking the first tee, short flag pins, white fences, stone bridges, deep pot bunkers and a winding creek (burn).

Teach me, please

"I need a swing tune-up and want a resort with a good golf academy and teaching program."

Orlando is home to some of the most celebrated golf instructors in the world. David Leadbetter, known for his "holistic" approach and innovative teaching techniques, is headquartered at Omni ChampionsGate Resort, home to two 18-hole courses, the International Course and National Course.

At Shingle Creek Golf Club, an 18-hole Dave Harman design, the Brad Brewer Academy has the philosophy "to help all ability levels and increase their love of the game by developing winning habits in practice and play."

The Nick Faldo Institute has a top-notch instruction staff, a 35-acre dedicated practice facility, nine-hole course and custom club fitting.

High class, all the way

"I want luxury, sophistication and top-notch service, both on the course and in the hotel."

If you want to luxuriate on and off the course, stay and play at these pamper palaces: Grande Lakes Orlando, a sprawling resort complex encompassing the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels, is home to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes, a Greg Norman Signature Golf Course with a caddie program featuring caddies who wear white Augusta National-style overalls.

In the Bonnet Creek Resort area, Waldorf Astoria Golf Club adjacent to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Hotel is a Rees Jones design with high-impact features such as an elevated green encircled by continuous bunkers and innovative, exaggerated mounding.

At the Orlando World Center Marriott, Florida's largest resort and convention center, Hawk's Landing Golf Club, a Joe Lee-designed course, is an excellent resort layout situated just a few steps from the hotel's front door.

Convention center close by

"I'll be in Orlando with some co-workers at a meeting or convention and need to be close to the convention center. Where should we stay and play?"

You absolutely won't believe how close Shingle Creek Golf Club at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is situated to the Orange County Convention Center -- it's less than a half-mile east of the OCCC. Rest assured, you can shed your nametag and briefcase and be on the course in short order.

Another option is Marriott's Grande Pines Golf Club, about a five-minute drive from the OCCC just off International Drive. Designed by Steve Smyers, with consultation from Nick Faldo, Marriott's Grande Pines is a true shotmakers layout with undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers and multi-tiered greens.

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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