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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Golf at Disneyworld

Since I'm spending the week at Disneyworld, I thought I'd bring you guys up-to-speed on what the golf situation looks like down here. And no, I haven't had a chance to play. I'm here with friends, one of whom is a rambunctious 6-year-old. Golf just doesn't fit into this trip!

Disney owns a huge amount of land down here -- roughly the size of San Francisco -- and there are 5 golf courses here. Arnold Palmer Golf Management operates all of them for Disney. You can find links to webpages for each individual course at this link, but I thought I'd give you a quick rundown. You'll need to check the courses themselves for actual greens fees; most of the listings just say $39 - $165.

Almost everybody knows about the Magnolia Course, where the PGA Tour's Children's Miracle Network Classic was played through 2012. (Remember? Charlie Beljan won the last one.) What you may not know is that the Magnolia is certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary and rated 4 stars by Golf Digest. You can play the Magnolia at anywhere from a gentle 5127 to a looong 7516 yards from the tips. Its max slope rating is 141. (By comparison, Oak Hill's East Course is rated 147 by the USGA.)

Likewise,you may know about the Lake Buena Vista Course because it has hosted events for the PGA, LPGA, and USGA. Like the Magnolia, it's certified by Audubon International and rated 4 stars by Golf Digest. But this course is shorter overall -- 5177 to 6745 yards. Max slope rating is 133. I also found a "9 holes by 11am" deal where, if you're staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, you can play the back 9 before 11am and then have the rest of the day free to hit the parks. Here's the website photo:

Lake Buena Vista Course

The Magnolia and Lake Buena Vista courses were designed by Joseph L. Lee.

The Osprey Ridge Course gets 4.5 stars from Golf Digest and is also Audubon-certified. It's a Tom Fazio design. It plays from 5238 to 6968 yards, with a max slope rating of 126.

The Palm Course is closed for renovations. Another Joe Lee design, it's listed at 5262 to 7011 yards, with a max slope rating of 131.

And then there the Oak Trail Course. It's only 9 holes! The key to the par-36 Oak Trail is that it's a walking-only course with white, red, and junior tees -- that's right, it's designed so younger golfers can play it as well. The course plays from 1713 (junior) to 2913 (white) yards, so it's a good place for a family golf vacation. The website lists the adult prices as $20 to $38. Here's the website photo:

Oak Trail Course

Back in 1990 I went to something Disney called the Golf Studio, where I took a lesson under Carl Rabito. He has since coached a large number of PGA and LPGA pros, some of them to major wins. (I have a link to his website over in the sidebar, but the link in this post will take you directly to his bio.) I mention this because... well, when Disney does golf they do it right.

Now that session is simply listed as Golf Lessons on the site, and it sounds pretty much the same except that these days you have to schedule the lessons. I paid $50 for my lesson back in 1990; now adult lessons are $75 and kids 17 and under cost $50. For that you get a 45-minute private lesson with video analysis if needed; you don't even have to have your golf clubs with you -- they'll provide them at no extra charge!

Consider this an unsolicited testimonial for Disney's golf instruction. The Golf Studio was life-changing for me, and it sounds as if they're still approaching things the same way.

So that's where Disney golf is right now. Of course, I didn't include all the miniature golf courses around here...

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