By Tim McDonald
It may be convincingly argued that Florida is the epicenter of golf in the U.S., with more golf courses than any other state. It can also be said that Orlando is at the center of Florida golf.
In fact, the problem is an embarrassment of riches. With so many courses to choose from, how do you narrow the field?
One way, of course, is to stay at a multi-course resort. Not only do you get pampered by excellent service and lush surroundings, you also get a bonus of choice. Here are my choices of Orlando's best multi-course golf resorts.
-- The Reunion Resort has three courses designed by three legendary names: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
Watson's Independence course displays British influence, with the track's deep pot bunkers. Nicklaus' Tradition layout is a velvety-smooth, flowing parkland layout and Palmer's Legacy is routed over hilly, rolling terrain, beautifully landscaped.
-- Grand Cypress is all about the big fella that Tiger Woods is chasing: 45 holes of Nicklaus-designed golf.
The New Course is Nicklaus’ homage to the Old Course at St. Andrews. The North-South course, the original layout of the 45 holes, has tall, shaggy mounds and elevated, turtle-back greens that often overlook sand and water. The East course makes up the third nine.
-- Walt Disney World has four courses, plus a nine-hole family/walking course, featuring one of the best resort courses in the state in Tom Fazio's Osprey Ridge.
The pros rate the Magnolia, the longest of the Disney courses, as the third-hardest Disney course. The Palm course was designed by Joe Lee, as was the Magnolia.
-- Mission Inn is in Howey-in-the-Hills, a restful resort outside Orlando. El Campeon has an “old-school” feel to it. No modern gimmicks, just a challenging, scenic course in the hills. The other course, Las Colinas, is flatter and friendlier to the average hacker.
-- Bay Hill Club and Lodge is the Florida home of Palmer and the 27 holes here sweep across 270 acres along the shores of the Butler Chain of Lakes. The Champion and Challenger nines host the Bay Hill Invitational, held since 1979. This is one of the most prestigious, semi-private clubs in the world, with its own forecaddies.