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Hello From Orlando: Golf In Orlando - Playing Links-style At The Royal St. Cloud - Unpretentious Golf At Its Best

For a real links-style golf experience we discovered the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links, located in St. Cloud, about 25 minutes southeast of the Orlando airport or the Disney area. The Royal St. Cloud Links greet you with a rolling layout of links-style fairways, punctuated by classic links bunkers that feature names such as Hell, Spectacles, Devil's Pocket and Hoofprint. True to its link heritage, every club in the bag will be utilized as the terrain is naturally varied.

Unli...

hello from, orlando, florida, travel, golf

For a real links-style golf experience we discovered the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links, located in St. Cloud, about 25 minutes southeast of the Orlando airport or the Disney area. The Royal St. Cloud Links greet you with a rolling layout of links-style fairways, punctuated by classic links bunkers that feature names such as Hell, Spectacles, Devil's Pocket and Hoofprint. True to its link heritage, every club in the bag will be utilized as the terrain is naturally varied.

Unlike other Orlando golf courses, the Royal St. Cloud is free of any residential developments and offers a pure golf experience. The design features four sets of tees and from the blue tee offers a championship length of 7,111 yards and a 74.6 rating, all on flawless fairways and silky-smooth Tifeagle greens.

Its motto, as printed above the entrance to the club house is "Original Golf Played Here", and indeed the Royal St. Cloud features original style golf at its unpretentious best. I had a chance to talk to Bill Filson, the Director of Golf and since 2002 co-owner of this facility.

Bill has an extensive teaching background. He has personally studied under some of the top-ranked teaching professionals and brings 12 years of teaching experience that featured beginners to PGA tour professionals. Bill has consistently been a top-ranked PGA Professional. The Royal St. Cloud's teaching staff is complemented by Dave Rummels who brings 17 years of valuable PGA Tour experience with him and can share advice from the “Tour” with the students. Associate Professional, Doug Holloway, has 16 years coaching experience.

At the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links the commitment to teaching the game of golf commitment includes state-of-the art video equipment and even a teaching tent for inclement weather. Lessons, programs, and clinics are offered for every skill level and requirement. Bill explained that they run very reasonably priced children's clinics at $7.00 per clinic and the club has 120 members in their junior program. Ladies can also learn the sport without embarrassment in a relaxed, comfortable environment. And with every family membership at the club kids play for free.

Bill prides himself on offering one of the greatest values in golf in the Orlando area. For the 2005-2006 season rates vary from $46 to $48 from November 1 to January 10, and $64 from January 11 to April 30, 2006. Discounted tee time rates
are available after 11 am or 12 pm respectively, 7 days/week. Bill went on to say that the fees at the Royal St. Cloud are always reasonable, and that he aims not to oversell his course, but to exceed the visitors' expectations.

In addition, he offers a very unique proposition: a 100% money-back guarantee with no conditions if you didn't enjoy your playing experience at the Royal St. Clouds. He said in the almost three years since he has run this course only 2 people ever asked for a refund; a phenomenal achievement, considering that several tens of thousands of rounds are played here every year.

One of the very unique features of this course is the handcrafted stonework which is evident in four bridges found throughout the course that have been hand-built by one individual brick by brick. Bill said that some of the bridges are even a little bit crooked, just to give them more character. The most famous stone bridge can be found on the 5th hole and many of the British visitors to this golf course come here specifically for this unique feature.

Bill explained that his golf course serves a value-based market that is composed of local residents, snowbirds escaping the cold northern winters, and British golfers, a very loyal crowd who refer this facility to many of their friends back home.

The Royal St. Cloud Golf Links have been rated as one of the Top 5 Most Underrated Golf Courses in the Orlando area and they have hosted the 2004 and 2005 British Junior Amateur. With its wide-open fairways the course looks deceptively simple, however, I experienced very quickly the unique challenges offered by the Royal St. Cloud. Traditional links golf is played on the ground, unfortunately I still managed to find water several times, despite the generously open fairways.

The other feature I really enjoyed were a number of the ponds on the back nine of the course that were playing host to a variety of local wildlife and water birds. I particularly enjoyed watching a very rare specimen of wood stork stalking the edges of a pond for food, and a crane standing upright with stretched out wings. The course had a very relaxed, casual and friendly feel to it and we enjoyed a tasty hot dog after our game on the beautiful patio outside the clubhouse as a way to cap off a very enjoyable golf experience on a gorgeous day.

Driving Directions from the Disney Area:
Royal St. Cloud Golf Links is an easy 25 miles from the Disney area.
(25-35 minute approximate drive time)
• Take Osceola Parkway to the Florida Turnpike
• Take Exit 244 to Hwy 192, turn left.
• Go 4.6 miles to Vermont Ave, turn right.
• Take Vermont 2.1 miles to Creek Woods Road, take a left.
• Go only .7 miles to Michigan Ave, take a right directly into the Golf Club.

Statistics
Par 72 Yards Rating Slope
Blue 7111 74.6 128
Gold 6680 72.2 125
Green 6083 69.2 115
Citrus 5531 66.6 111

For more information please visit Royal St. Cloud Golf website or call them at (407) 891-7010.

This entire article including photos is located at http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_royal_stcloud_golf.htm

 

Hello From Orlando: Golf In Orlando - The Links-style International Course At Championsgate

Several days after attending the Father-Son-Challenge at ChampionsGate we actually got out and played the International Course ourselves. It was an exciting experience to play a championship golf course just shortly after a major tournament, when it was still in tournament condition with just a few extra degrees of difficulty. The open wind-swept design features a multitude of bunkers and a variety of water hazards, and with a difficulty rating of 76.3, one of the highest rat...

hello from, orlando, florida, travel, golf

Several days after attending the Father-Son-Challenge at ChampionsGate we actually got out and played the International Course ourselves. It was an exciting experience to play a championship golf course just shortly after a major tournament, when it was still in tournament condition with just a few extra degrees of difficulty. The open wind-swept design features a multitude of bunkers and a variety of water hazards, and with a difficulty rating of 76.3, one of the highest ratings in the state, we were duly humbled by the challenges that this course threw at us.

ChampionsGate is an impressive facility with 36 holes designed by famous golf legend Greg Norman. What sets ChampionsGate apart is that its International layout and the National course have totally different designs. The hard, fast fairways of the International course are reminiscent of the great old Scottish and Irish links, while the more modern American-style National course winds through citrus groves and stands of pines, emphasizing challenging shot-making choices and a range of memorable par-3s.

Golfers who want to improve their game can do so at the world-famous David Leadbetter Golf Academy which offers two or three-day mini-schools or retreats, private sessions or David's "Beginner to Winner" program. David Leadbetter even offers video lessons via the Internet, providing access to his teaching expertise to golf students all over the world. The Callaway practice facility consists of an expansive practice area, putting green and short game area and is always complimentary with a round of golf.

As you come off exit 58 on the I-4, ChampionsGate greets you right away with imposing gates. The road takes you past the luxurious Omni Orlando Resort and Spa which has been welcoming resort golfers since 2004 in 730 premier rooms, including 25 guest suites. In conjunction with the Omni Resort, ChampionsGate now offers an upscale resort golf experience, complete with a European-style spa, state-of-the-art conference facilities and a 15-acre tropically landscaped recreational area featuring an 850 ft "lazy river". The Champions 9 Golf Experience, the resort's lighted 9-hole, par 3 golf course, adds to the recreational opportunities.

The resort will be complemented by a master-planned community including villas and condominiums. The 59-unit phase 1 of the Villas is set to open in the summer of 2006, which will be followed by groundbreaking for the 110 units of Phase 2.

The 30,000 square foot clubhouse at ChampionsGate with its enormous wrap-around veranda features a panoramic view of both golf courses and a unique menu that is split right down the middle, featuring international cuisine on the left, and American fare on the right. ChampionsGate specializes in hospitality and customer service, and last year the club hosted more than 340 business or charity outings. After our challenging round we enjoyed a tasty lunch and were joined by Alan Findley, the General Manager of ChampionsGate, who gave us a better overview of this facility.

Alan is particularly proud of hosting the Father-Son-Challenge, a nationally televised golf event that features many present and past legends of golf, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Vijay Singh, to mention just a few. The Father-Son-Challenge is a veritable "Walking Hall of Fame". What makes this tournament really special is its relaxed family atmosphere and the opportunity to see different generations of golf icons playing with their sons, daughters and even grandchildren. It's an opportunity to see these famous golf legends from a human side and we indeed enjoyed watching Vijay Singh relax with a cup of coffee on the 18th hole, awaiting the arrival of his son Qass, hoping for a great final score.

In our conversation Alan also indicated that at the David Leadbetter Academy you never know what golf celebrity you are going to run into. Michelle Wie is a famous Leadbetter student, Charles Howell III was practicing while we were there, and Greg Norman helicoptered in for a lesson last week. Alan also pointed out Michelle Wie's favourite spot in the clubhouse: the table right in front of the big screen TV.

Alan also made us aware of the unique wildlife inhabiting this golf course: two American bald eagles have made the course their permanent home, and on any given day you could see whooping cranes, gannets, alligators or armadillos. For a special glimpse of ChampionsGate's atmosphere come here at the end of the day, when you could see bald eagles perched on a tree in the sunset right in front of the clubhouse, while listening to a Scottish bagpiper, a feature Allen himself has introduced to the club.

Driving Directions:
ChampionsGate is located 10 Minutes from Disney World at Exit 58 on Interstate 4, just minutes away from International Drive and area attractions.

Statistics for ChampionsGate International
Par 72 Yards Rating Slope
Black 7363 76.8 143
Blue 6792 74.1 137
White (M) 6239 71.5 132
White (L) 6239 75.7 134

Statistics for ChampionsGate National
Par 72 Yards Rating Slope
Black 7128 75.2 138
Blue 6427 71.9 133
White (M) 5937 69.1 124
White (L) 5937 74.7 125

For more information please visit the ChampionsGate website or call them at (407) 787-GOLF (4653) or toll free at 1-888-558-9301.

This entire article including photos is located at http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_champions_gate_golf.htm

 

Hello From Orlando: Timacuan Golf And Country Club

On our last full day in Florida we had a chance to play another beautiful golf course, this one located about half an hour north of downtown Orlando in the community of Lake Mary. Timacuan Golf and Country Club was built in 1987 and was originally designed by a Ron Garl. In 1996 the course was renovated by architect Bobby Weed and today it is ranked in the top 14 in the state of Florida. Timacuan's other accolades include having been chosen as one of the most golf-friendly co...

hello from, orlando, florida, travel, golf

On our last full day in Florida we had a chance to play another beautiful golf course, this one located about half an hour north of downtown Orlando in the community of Lake Mary. Timacuan Golf and Country Club was built in 1987 and was originally designed by a Ron Garl. In 1996 the course was renovated by architect Bobby Weed and today it is ranked in the top 14 in the state of Florida. Timacuan's other accolades include having been chosen as one of the most golf-friendly courses for women by Golf for Women Magazine.

Bobby Weed's redesign encompassed many elements of the course and ensured that all players will have an enjoyable round of golf. Timacuan also features a large driving range and putting green. Par is 71 and the course plays close to 7,000 yards from the back tees. Timacuan's unique features include a links-style front nine and a Carolina feel complete with gorgeous pines and lakes on the back nine.

Timacuan Golf and Country Club also has a lighted practice facility and is home to the Mike Bender Golf Academy. Mike Bender is a two time North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year, and is ranked by Golf Magazine as one of the Top 100 Instructors and Golf Digest as one of the top 50 Instructors in America. While we were there, a young golf aficionado was receiving a very thorough one-on-one video-taped lesson and we admired her elegant drives into the driving range.

We drove in on a winding road through a residential area and were greeted by Timacuan's spacious two-story club house. I had a chance to talk with Kim Shield who handles marketing for Timacuan, who explained that the club house features a full service grill room downstairs, and can host up to 250 people in the upstairs dining room which has panorama windows that offer a beautiful view of the golf course, making it a popular destination for corporate and private functions. The club house also hosts a Sunday brunch from 11 am to 2 pm as well as a Wednesday night buffet.

Kim filled me in on some other unique details on this course. Considering its location in Seminole County north of Orlando, it mostly serves local residents. The area around the course offers a lot of things do to, including a variety of waterfront restaurants, the Sanford Zoo, the Sanford Historical Museum, and Colonial Town Park, a local development that features restaurants, theatres, hotels, cinemas, shopping, all in all a nice area to walk around in.

We thoroughly enjoyed our round, despite the grey, drizzly weather as Timacuan features a very scenic layout. The course had a wonderfully friendly feel to it, and we enjoyed our chats with course staff while waiting for our cart and were warmly welcomed by the starter. Upon hearing that we were from Canada, one of the local members generously gave us his chip for practice balls and this friendly ambience got us off to a good start.

Hole number 2 is one of the most difficult holes on the course, and I promptly made two separate ball donations into the pond. The front nine is surrounded by an attractive residential development that never intruded into our golf game and a couple of holes actually feature drive-through bunkers. The Carolina-style back nine had its own set of challenges, particularly since water comes into play on seven holes.

Timacuan's rates are quite reasonable: for June to October 2005 the rates ranged between $55 and $65, from November 1 to January 11, 2006 the rates vary from $69 to $79, and in high season from January 12 to April 23, 2006 the rates range between $85 and $95.

Driving directions:
Lake Mary is located about 10 miles northeast of Orlando and is easily accessible via the interstate system. Off of the I-4 take exit 101a to Rhinehart Rd (go right). First light Timacuan Blvd (go left). Go one mile to the Timacuan entrance on right. Follow Timacuan Blvd to the clubhouse.

Statistics
Par 71 Yards Rating Slope
Gold 6915 73.7 135
Blue 6403 71.2 128
White 5892 68.6 119
Green 5243 70.0 124

For more information please visit Timacuan Golf and Country Club's website or call them at (407) 321-0010.

This entire article including photos is located at http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_timacuan_golf.htm




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