The Legends Golf Course at Orange Lake Resort a Pleasant Surprise

    By Tim McDonald

    The Orange Lake Resort Orlando doesn't appear to go out of its way to trumpet its golf courses, since the resort is primarily aimed at families and family-type activities.

    Maybe it should.

    That's because the resort has four golf courses, two of which are legitimate, 18-hole layouts that compare favorably to a lot of other, better-known courses in the Orlando area. They're also cheaper.

    I played the 18-hole Legends course first, which was designed by Arnold Palmer's design company, and I was pleasantly surprised at both the quality and challenge as well as the conditioning and attention to detail.

    The Legends was in good shape the day I played it, and repeat players say it's kept that way all year 'round. It has lush, well-groomed fairways, semi-fast greens and a variety of extra touches that bump the aesthetics up a the rocks that border many of the greens that have water in front of them, or - more often - off to the sides, or the well-planted waste areas that serve as both hazard and decoration.

    This isn't an overly difficult course, but it does have its challenges. The fairways narrow considerably and pick up movement as they near the greens, in the form of swales, dips and small hillocks.

    The greens themselves are average-sized and throw some undulation and slope at you, so you have to focus to avoid three-putting. Some are very tricky, with deep creases running through the middle.

    The layout has variety, with doglegs, interesting angles into the greens, and some risk/reward options, which hold your interest throughout the round. And although the routing takes you around some of the villas, vast sections of the course have a serene, isolated feel.

    The Legends also has some amenities that you ordinarily find only in upscale resort courses, such as GPS in all the carts, so you'll always know your distances. All in all, this is a terrific value for a course that isn't generally known to even the frequent Orlando golf visitor.

    All the resort's courses are open to the public and rentals are also available.

    For more information, call 888-640-6522.