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.
Best Places to Play North of Orlando
1. Deltona Club - Deltona was renovated by Bobby Weed several years ago and the course came out great. It looks and feels a lot like Sugarloaf Mtn which is now closed (lots of sand waste areas, elevation changes, sand based fairways) and is one of the best bargains in Florida.
2. Victoria Hills - Was my favorite in the area until I played Deltona and Sugarloaf. Still an excellent layout and worth a visit.
3. Mission Inn - El Campeon - This is an excellent old school course, opened in the 1920's. Next to Susgarloaf it has the most inetesting 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.
4. Bella Colina was supposed to be private and part of an upscale community. The great recession 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 everyone, but I think it's a course that will test you and get your blood flowing. I think the more you play it the more you'll like it. Most of the guys in my group loved it. I know one guy who thinks its terrible. You've got to see the clubhouse and locker room which are over the top luxurious.
5. Red Tail - This is set in a very serene location with some really nice strategic golf holes that will require a variety of shots and use of all of your clubs. There are some holes that are too tight and difficult for my liking but overall a nice place to play and a good value.
6. Winter Park - This is a nine hole muni that was recently completely redesigned in the middle of a quaint neighborhood . It's extremely affordable and has some nice strategic features. If you are looking for quick, fun,low key round this is the way to go. (It's the anithesis of Bella Colina)
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
Former 1st choice - RIP = Sugarloaf Mountain - What a shame. This course has now closed. It had opened just as the Great Recession began and was intended to be a private upscale residential community. 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..
Click on a picture below to enlarge and see captions.
The 20 best courses near the theme parks
Bay Hill - Arnold Palmer's home course and host of a PGA Tour event Southern Dunes Orange County National - Panther Lake Orange County National - Crooked Cat Grand Cypress - New Grand Cypress - North-East-West Ritz Carlton @ Grande Lakes Championsgate Country Club Shingle Creek Reunion Resort - Watson Course Reunion Resort - Palmer Course Reunion Resort - Nicklaus Course Disney - Tranquilo Disney - Magnolia Disney - Palm Disney - Lake Buena Vista Celebration Championsgate - International Championsgate - National Waldorf Astoria Harmony Preserve
Links to photos - This link will take you to photo tours of 50 Orlando area courses