Challenging Golf Courses in Central Florida 

    By Tim McDonald

    Orlando is one of the most famous golf destinations in the world, with many of its courses targeting tourists and beginning golfers with relatively benign designs, aimed at making players feel good about their golf games.

    But, for the pros and low handicappers, there are plenty of tracks in the area that will test your game, your limits and sometimes even your patience. In other words, these courses ain't easy, especially if you try to attack them from the back tees.
    Here are some of my favorites:

    • Disney World has some very challenging layouts, but my favorite muscle course at Disney is Osprey Ridge. It has good length at 7,101 yards and a slope rating of 135. Tom Fazio designed it with elevated tees and multitiered greens more undulating than the other Disney courses.
    • The Crooked Cat course at the Orange County National complex is 7,278 yards with an uh-oh slope rating of 140. The course has some hefty elevation changes, some of them as much as 50 feet. The wind always seems to be swirling at you from different directions.
    • Panther Lake at OCN is another bear. It's 7,275 yards with a slope of 137. Fairway bunkers, trees and other obstacles are just some of the hazards. The elevated, well-guarded greens make approach shots tricky.
    • El Campeon at the Mission Inn at Howey-in-the-Hills is another central Florida course with atypical elevation changes, some up to 85 feet. To me, it always seems to play longer than its listed 6,923 yards. The middle stretch of the front nine is long and tricky with tough carries off the tee and harsh slopes once you reach the greens.

    For an Orlando golfing video, click here.

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