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Falcon's Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee, Florida: A bunker-fest in a solid Rees Jones design

Dave BernerBy Dave Berner,
Senior Contributor
Falcon's Fire Golf Club - hole 13 bunker
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No. 13 is not only Falcon's Fire Golf Club's most memorable, it may be the most dangerous. (Courtesy of Falcon's Fire G.C.)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Stand on the 13th tee and count. One, two, three ... 16. Sixteen individual bunkers all along the left side of this 390-yard par-4. Can't believe it? Count again. You're correct, 16. Now try to hit a drive or an approach-shot that doesn't go in one of those bunkers or in the lake that runs along the entire right side of the fairway.

At Falcon's Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee - just 3 miles from the Walt Disney World Resort - the 13th hole is not only the most memorable, it may be the most dangerous.

"There is absolutely nowhere to miss-hit it," says Alex Forsyth, golf sales manager at Falcon's Fire G.C. "It's part of the final third of holes that you must be prepared for."

Forsyth believes Falcon's Fire -- a Rees Jones design that stretches out to nearly 7000 yards -- is divided into three six-hole golf courses.

The first six get you warmed up, starting with a couple of straightaway par 4s each under 400 yards from the blue tees, a medium-length par-3 third, and a short par-5 fourth, measuring 470 yards from the blues.

The middle six are solid, featuring a 526-yard par 5 and a 200-yard par 3.

"But you can't let up on the final six holes," Forsyth says. "Falcon's Fire does not allow you to just cruise into the clubhouse. The final six are scary."

Falcon's Fire Golf Club's 17th and 18th holes combine for a deadly-duo finish to the round. From the tips, the par-4 17th measures over 430 yards and the par-4 18th is an angry monster stretching to 473 yards. Even from the blues, the final hole is a long march at 448 yards.

But Falcon's Fire is not just about length.

"The greens are in tremendous condition. We re-did them in 2009 and put in TifEagle bermudagrass," Forsyth says. "Even in the off season they run very true."

And this is not just talk. Although the greens at Falcon's Fire are not always running at top speed, the TifEagle allows them to be trimmed tight for a quick pace when possible.

Like many golf courses in and around the Walt Disney World Resort area, Falcon's Fire has a stately clubhouse. The Spanish colonial design includes a pro shop that's been named one of the "100 Best Golf Shops of All Time" by Golf World Business.

The practice facility is more than adequate. Not only is there a driving range, but also chipping areas and sand bunkers.

One aspect of course design that can be wildly inconsistent at many public courses is the condition of the sand bunkers. At times you'll find them lacking in the amount of sand, or they're inconsistent from hole to hole -- sometimes soft, sometimes full of tiny stones. The bunkers at Falcon's Fire are not only consistent, but the density and amount of sand is nearly perfect, making playing out of them much easier for the amateur. It still takes skill to exit the sand, but at least Falcon's Fire doesn't hamper your chances with poor bunker conditioning.

What might be one of the best things about Falcon's Fire is its price. During late spring, summer, and early fall, an Orlando resident can play 18 holes for $49 with cart, and it's only $59 for the rest of the public. Also, the course offers 3-day and 7-day memberships for as little as $118. The membership is great for vacationers.

Playing Falcon's Fire requires stamina to stay focused through all 18 holes, especially those tough final six. And although counting bunkers might be fun on the 13th hole, it might be better to not focus so much on the trouble, all those places you don't want to be. Remember: fairways and greens, fairways and greens.

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Falcon's Fire Golf Club - clubhouseFalcon's Fire G.C. - 15th hole

Dave Berner is a long-time journalist for CBS radio in Chicago and has freelanced for CNN, National Public Radio, and ABC news. He created and produced the popular radio feature "The Golf Minute" for CBS-owned radio station WMAQ in Chicago along with writing a regular column for Golf Chicago Magazine. He is also author of "Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons" and "Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed." Follow Berner on Twitter @DavidWBerner

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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