Although Orlando is best known for its theme parks, it is also a super golf destination having about as many golf courses to choose from as Myrtle Beach or Scottsdale. So, whether you are in the area to visit the theme parks and just want to play a quick round or two, or planning a multi round golf trip with your buddies there are many choices. Like Myrtle Beach, there are courses at many price points. Most of the best and well known courses are expensive and a few of the expensive ones aren't so great. However, you can usually get good deals on afternoon tee times, especially by using one of the several on line reservation websites (see links below) and if you can wait until a few days before you play to reserve a time. There are also several great bargain courses even in the prime Winter season, especially if you are willing to drive a bit further away from the tourist areas around Disney and Universal.
Six Best Places to Play North of Orlando
Deltona Club - Deltona was recently renovated by Bobby Weed and the course came out great. It looks and feels a lot like Sugarloaf (lots of sand waste areas, elevation changes, sand based fairways) and is one of the best bargains in Florida.
Victoria Hills - Was my favorite in the area until I played Deltona and Sugarloaf. Still an excellent layout and worth a visit.
Mission Inn - El Campeon - This is an excellent old school course, opended in the 1920's. Next to Susgarloaf it has the most inetesrting terrain of the Orlando area courses with lots of elevation changes that most area courses don't have. The staff is great and the restaurant at the Mission Inn resort is very good. Green fees are reasonable.
Timacuan - Timacuan has a wide variety of holes that somehow flow together pretty well. More water than the other four courses listed above, but not standard Florida fare. Some of the holes have wide fairways and a few are tight. A few have a Carolina feel with trees draped in Spanish moss.
DeBary Golf Club - Another good bargain
Bella Colina is a new courses that like Sugarloaf was supposed to be private and part of an upscale community. The economic downturn has busted that plan and the course is open to public play. It is a big brawny layout with a number of blind shots that result from the hilly terrain, making it tough the first time you play . It is not for evryone, but most of the guys in my group loved it. You've got to see the clubhouse and locker room which are over the top luxurious.
Sugarloaf Mountain - What a shame. This course has now closed due to the struggling economy. It had opened just as the Great Recession began and was intended to be a private upscale residential community. I hope someone buys it and figures out a way to keep it going. Sugarloaf has more elevation changes than any course in Florida. Wide sand based fairways and a roughly hewn natural feel. It was lots of fun to play even as conditioning slowly deteriorated..
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The 20 best courses near the theme parks
Bay Hill - Arnold Palmer's home course and host of a PGA Tour event Southern Dunes Harmony Preserve Orange County National - Panther Lake Orange County National - Crooked Cat Reunion Resort - Watson Course Reunion Resort - Palmer Course Reunion Resort - Nicklaus Course Disney - Osprey Ridge Disney - Magnolia Disney - Palm Disney - Lake Buena Vista Shingle Creek Grand Cypress - New Grand Cypress - North-East-West Ritz Carlton @ Grande Lakes Celebration Championsgate - International Championsgate - National Waldorf Astoria