By David Theoret
Many are familiar with Orange Lake Resort in Orlando with their upscale condominium style accommodations, which includes, villas and time share units. The resort also features a full array of amenities including swimming pools, tennis courts, mini golf, a workout facility, meeting/conference areas and multiple dining options.
But what they may not be aware of is that Orange Lake Resort also boasts two of the area’s best conditioned and challenging championship golf courses: The Legends Course and The Reserve Course. Best of all, you don’t have to be a resort guest to play here, these courses are open to the public.
The Legends Course is a tale of two nines. The front side – sometimes referred to as the Links Nine – features wide fairways with significant landing areas and lots of rolling terrain. The Links Nine is much longer than the back (Pines) nine and has more of a resort feel as it winds through the various lodging options. Water comes into play on four holes on the outward nine as opposed to seven on the inward side.
The Pines also features several fairways lined with Florida pines and majestic live oak trees that create narrow corridors off the tee. Several holes feature rock retaining walls that front the greens – a Palmer Design trademark.
The Legends Course features five sets of tees to challenge men and women of all abilities. The Back Tees measure 7,072 yards with a slope rating of 132. Pick the tees that best match your game and you’re sure to have a good time.
Most Memorable Hole:
No. 18 is a long, dogleg left featuring water on the left side that starts into play about 250 yards off the tee. There is also a fairway bunker on the left side and a waste bunker on the right. A good tee shot will still leave a long to mid-iron into an elevated green protected by sand and water on the left and mounds on the right.
The Legends Course is anything but your typical resort course. The doglegs, both right and left, require length and accuracy to set up a second shot. Elevation changes create blind tee shots, along with large lips on many of the bunkers add to the difficulty.
The greens are on the smallish side, but feature enough undulation to make 3-putts a common occurrence. Several have ridges in the middle with multiple tiers.
After your round, be sure to stop by the Legacy Grill, located in the clubhouse. Guests can relax either indoors or out in the comfortable sports-themed setting. Enjoy food and drink with friends and family, all served by a friendly, knowledgeable staff.
The Reserve Course was originally designed by Joe Lee in 1982, but was completely redesigned by Mike Dasher In 2005. New water features, additional sand, as well as, the rerouting of seven holes resulted in one of the more challenging courses in the Orlando area.
Choose wisely Grasshopper, there are only three sets of tees on the Reserve Course. From the tips (Blue Tees), the course measures 6,505 yards with a course rating of 71.8 and a slope of 137. Most will find the White Tees at 6,031 yards enough of a challenge, while the forward tees measure 5,119 yards.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 10.
Number 10 is undoubtedly the most interesting hole on the course. This long dogleg left starts out with a tee shot over a lake to a fairway that features a trio of bunkers straight away. Short of the bunkers is good. The right side of the fairway should be avoided too; there’s a stream that runs down the right side and cuts across the fairway to another lake on the left that needs to be navigated on your approach shot.
Plan on favoring the right side of the fairway with your layup shot, just be warned, it’s a narrow landing area. Next, play your approach over the second lake to a well-elevated green protected on the right by a large deep bunker. Make a par – or better – and consider the round a success!
This Mike Dasher design has a lot to offer golfers of all abilities. It’s definitely not the longest course in the area and is certainly not going to overpower anyone. What the Reserve Course will require is that you think your way around the course, especially on holes like the par 5, 10th, which takes accuracy, length and brains.
Another interesting hole is the par-3 12th hole, which requires an accurate shot off the tee in order to have a shot at par. It may be the course’s shortest hole, but it is also one of the most difficult too, with two deep bunkers surrounding the green to the left and water hazards on the right. Miss the green and par is a tough score to make.
The Reserve Course shares a clubhouse with the newly renovated Cranes Bend, an executive style nine-hole course. The clubhouse features a well-stocked pro shop plus a restaurant/lounge. Also on property is Legends Walk, a lit par three nine-hole course that takes tee times until 9 PM. There’s plenty of room to tune up your game and includes a spacious driving range nearby that is open late. The practice facilities also include a large practice putting green.
Although a fair amount of the Reserve Course winds through the resort community, many of the holes have nothing but nature around them and are very secluded. If your goal is to find a golf course in the Disney area that will challenge your golf game and don’t want to break the bank to do it, pay a visit to the courses at Orange Lake Resort. For more information or to book your next round, visit their website at www.orangelakegolf.com.