Orlando's top women-friendly golf courses

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Many golf courses in Orlando and the surrounding area -- including Hawk's Landing, Mystic Dunes, Shingle Creek and Southern Dunes -- have characteristics that are popular with women golfers.

Shingle Creek Golf Course - Orlando
With two tee boxes under 6,000 yards, Shingle Creek is a very playable course for women.
Shingle Creek Golf Course - OrlandoSouthern Dunes Golf and Country ClubEagle Creek golf course - 8thFalcon's Fire Golf Club

ORLANDO -- Studies show that women are one of the fastest growing segments in golf. Still more studies show that Mickey Mouse lives in Orlando. When you put the two together, you're likely to come up with an equation that shows a lot of female golfers in Orlando with their families.

They're most likely itching to get out to the golf course for a few hours. Orlando has a lot of golf courses and many of them recognize how important women are to the game.

Here are some of OrlandoGolf.com's favorite Orlando-area, women-friendly golf courses. The criteria we used involves the number of women's tees and whether the environment is friendly to women. As far as the golf course itself, we looked for things like conditioning and the number of forced carries.

Orlando golf courses: Must-plays for women

Hawk's Landing has two tees for women at 4,890 yards, with a slope rating of 117, and 5,833 yards with a slope of 119. Hawk's Landing is a perfect example of a resort course, with immaculate grooming and a player-friendly layout. The fairways at Hawk's Landing are wide and inviting with gentle mounding and little rough to speak of.

The greens at Hawk's Landing are surrounded by chipping areas that are closely mown so that you can putt on them, and there are almost always bail-out areas around the more difficult holes, as well as mounding.

Mystic Dunes has three sets of tees under 6,000, the shortest being 4,665 yards with a slope of 115. Though the tees are forgiving, the greens are a blast to putt. Almost every green complex has something wild, usually involving multiple layers and separate sections and slope so steep you could ski on them.

Shingle Creek has two tee boxes under 6,000, at 5,061 yards and 5,787. Shingle Creek is a popular golf course because of its proximity to the Orlando airport and the convention center. It is a very playable course for women.

"Everything is visible here and there are no hidden elements," Derek Duncan wrote in a review of the course for FloridaGolf.com. "While numerous water hazards outline many holes, few come into immediate play. In fact, the fairways are extremely wide and playable."

Southern Dunes in Haines City is a work of art by architect Steve Smyers, with two women's tees under 6,000 yards, the shortest being 4,987. "It is a bold, daring design that constantly stimulates, constantly offers variation and temptation, so much so that many have called it a gamblers' course," Derek Duncan wrote in a review on this site.

The Reunion Resort and Club has always been a favorite with women, many of whom particularly enjoy the colorful Arnold Palmer Course.

Large, enclosed sections are festooned with flowers and plants of a dozen varieties. The edges of the fairways are meticulously lined and sharpened. No visual detail here is beneath the grounds crew's notice.

The Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate is another family-friendly resort, with kids' activities and junior instruction. Of the two courses, the International Course is the best. It's in excellent shape and the practice grounds are first-rate, including a driving range, putting green and short-game area. There is also valet parking, iced towels and GPS on the carts. Steps away from the driving range is the David Leadbetter Golf Academy world headquarters.

The golf course itself has a links-like feel and a significant number of water hazards, though few forced carries.

Solid seconds

Crooked Cat at Orange County National has two sets of women tees, one at 5,262 yards and one at a tough over 6,000. Orange County National courses are almost always in very good shape.

Eagle Creek has five sets of tees, including two under 6,000 yards. It was designed by Ron Garl and Howard Swan.

The golf courses at the family-friendly Grand Cypress are all women-friendly, especially the East/North and North/South, both of which have two sets of tees under 6,000 yards.

Fairways Country Club has three sets of tees, none longer than 6,000 yards. The facility has some of the cheapest green fees in Orlando.

MetroWest has two sets of tees under 6,000 yards and was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr.

Falcon's Fire Golf Club has been often recognized as a women-friendly course and has been included in "America's top 100 golf shops" by Golf for Women. Rees Jones is the architect.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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