Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge has two singular, 18-hole courses and no matter which one you play, you'll have a ball.
In my last blog, I reviewed Panther Lake. This time I'm going to concentrate on Crooked Cat.
The two courses have a great deal of similarities in that they are routed over land once used for orange groves and which is ideal for golf: rolling, rollicking terrain that lends dramatic movement to the fairways and greens.
The conditioning is excellent throughout both courses, with lush fairways that nearly always give you a nice, fluffy lie. The greens on both courses are beautifully contoured, with multiple tiers and gentle slopes.
Most people insist Crooked Cat is easier, but I suspect that is an optical illusion. Crooked Cat is a links-style layout, which means the fairways are wider and the trees are fewer. So, it may indeed look easier to the golfer standing on the tee box.
But, the slope rating – the number that gives you an indication of the course's relative difficulty – is identical for both courses, at least from the back tees. Panther Lake's slope rating is actually slightly higher from the middle and forward tees.
So, don't expect a cakewalk at Crooked Cat. The difference is that with the wider fairways, you have more options into the green. Still, you can get into trouble with the grass bunkers and the approach shots at Crooked Cat seem a bit trickier than Panther Lake.
Also, the routing at Crooked Cat is a bit more meandering, and with its wide-open layout, the wind can come sweeping off the vast expanse of central Florida from different directions. If you can work the ball, you'll have an advantage here.
So, both courses have their challenges. They're just different challenges.
Neither course has a speck of development, so both have a very natural feel. Crooked Cat has a livelier collection of par-3s – watch out for No. 13, a long one-shotter over water – and the back nine at Crooked Cat is as exciting as any nine in Florida, especially No. 12, with its two marsh carries.
You can't go wrong with either. Play them both. Multiple times. They never get dull.
For more information, call 888-727-3672.