Golf Vacation – Florida Style

I am on a golf vacation in Florida this month; traveling with fellow golfers and playing several south Florida courses this week. Here’s my take on each we’ve tested out.

Our first stop was Providence Golf Club in Davenport, south of Orlando. We had a great experience and have played the course a couple of times. The course is very well managed, the pro shop is well stocked, staff is friendly and there is a good practice area with a putting green, chipping green and a driving range. All free to use. The rates are very reasonable during the week, and though the course is busy, we never felt we were held up or had to wait.

It’s a beautiful public course away from the hassle of Orlando and the Disney crowd.  Don’t get me wrong, I love DisneyWorld (been there at least three times with friends and nephews) but three times is enough for me and the crowds and traffic are not something I enjoy. So… if you are like me and have golf as a priority rather than Mickey Mouse, choose a golf course away from the hustle and bustle of the “Magic Kingdom.” Providence Golf in Davenport is a smart choice.

The second golf course, Mystic Dunes, was a real disappointment. I played the course about 10 years ago and was impressed with how well it was maintained. But new management and developers have taken over the course and currently, the course is a battlefield between beautiful old fairways and deep sand pits with new home construction. What made the golf course such a pleasure to play is now gone (although the developers promise the charm will return when the development is completed – time frame? unknown.)

The front nine is lined with half-built condos that are so close to each other there is no privacy. The back nine has not been attacked as of this writing, but it won’t be long before the bulldozers arrive. It was the most expensive of the courses we played, and definitely the worst. Stay away from Mystic Dunes — at least until construction is completed, and likely, long after, based on how close the condos are being built next to the fairways.

Heritage Reserve Golf CourseHighlands Reserve Golf Club was our third golf adventure. Locally owned and operated, it was a quite decent public course and very popular! Staff was friendly, greens were good, course challenging in spots. And the price for after hours was reasonable.

Our fourth course choice led us to Orange County National, which quickly became our favorite. It is a great course located just south of Orlando. I’ve visited a couple of times while attending the PGA Show at the Convention Center each year in January. (See related post: Exploring Orange County National)

We played in late afternoon and even after a full day of play, the course was in great shape. Greens are fast, bunkers filled with soft sand and the fairways roll! A great golf course to play.

Only one complaint. The par 3, 4th hole has a small pond right in the middle of the fairway. You can’t see it from the tee box, and it’s not on the golf card because it only appears once in a while. It comes and goes depending on rainfall and the time of year I guess. I lost a couple of good balls in the drink! Sigh. The challenge of golf. All you can do is laugh.

Today we are heading out to play 18 holes at Celebration Golf Course. I’ll report on that adventure in a future post.

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