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Eagle Creek stands out among Orlando golf courses

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
Bunkers at Eagle Creek
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Eagle Creek has a smattering of penal pot bunkers. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)

Combining golf design elements from both America and Europe, Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando is a golf course that offers accessible, affordable Florida golf.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Eagle Creek Golf Club, set in the east Orlando, master-planned community of the same name, is an odd combination of American and British golf architecture that turned out extremely well.

It was designed by Ron Garl of Lakeland, Florida, and Howard Swan of England, who designed the first golf course in Croatia. Talk about an odd couple.

The idea was to combine elements of both styles, and to that end, the designers put in the wide fairways of America and the bunkering of Europe, among other characteristics.

"Bringing a little bit of Europe and golf tradition to Eagle Creek has been a great challenge to me as a British golf course architect," Swan says on the course's Web site. "The compact greens, the rectangular tees as well as many of the bunkers is truly traditional and essentially British and will make Eagle Creek stand apart."

Lest you be confused by this strange merger, the designers make it easy on you with wide fairways and generous landing areas, and not too much trouble in front of you. The course plays 7,198 yards from the back tees and has a leisurely slope rating of 128.

It also has a European look with a very open interior that makes it prey for the winds that can sweep across this part of central Florida. On the day I played it, for example, a stout breeze made a routine two-club difference with sometimes up to a three-club difference. You then had to club down with the wind.

The owners clearly wanted something that would make this course stand out among Orlando golf courses, and so they built five par-5s. The closing hole was converted from a par-4 to a par-5 shortly after the initial work, thus making Eagle Creek the only par-73 in central Florida.

However, with all this talk of par-5s, it is the collection of par-3s that are probably the most difficult aspect of Eagle Creek.

The 195-yard fifth plays into the prevailing winds, with two cross-bunkers in front and bunkers on both sides. No. 8 features a narrow, undulating green and a treacherous, revetted sod bunker right, and No. 11 is a 217-yard par-3 over a sandy waste area to a partially hidden green guarded by three, deep, revetted bunkers.

"It's a little weird playing all these par-5s," said Tony Goddard, of England. "It's different. I like it. I get more chances to reach a par-5 in two. And I like the greens quite a lot."

Eagle Creek Golf Club: The Verdict

Eagle Creek is a good play for the green fees, which range from $72 to $120. However, twilight rates are $29 to $55 and the course also offers a "multi-day pass program." Service here is top-notch, a step above most courses with similar rates.

The layout features more than 90 bunkers and waste areas up to a half-acre, but make no mistake, you can make the big dog bark on this course, if you can avoid the sand. Most of the par-5s can be reached in two with a good drive.

The greens also stand out: they're mini verde, which tolerates closer mowing and thus can be faster, and they sport a darker green color.

The course is relatively new, opening in 2004, and there are quite a few home sites yet to be exploited. It's located off Narcoossee Road, near Lake Nona, an area known for its explosive growth, even for Orlando.

The clubhouse stands out as well. It's a two-story, 14,000 square-foot new England manor-style building, with a 120-seat restaurant that has a terrific view of the open course.

Eagle Creek is home to the Graves Golf Academy.

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Eagle Creek Golf Club in OrlandoWide fairways at Eagle Creek

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Eagle Creek

    Bob durant wrote on: Jun 5, 2007

    Myself and 7 buddies played 11 rounds at Eagle creek in Feb.07.The course was incredible and the service was second to none.We played all 11 rounds on their weekly unlimited package for $249 ,the best rate we could find.We will be returning in 2008!


  • Awesome Course

    William F. Lockette wrote on: Jun 1, 2007

    I have had the distinct pleasure of playing this course a coupld of times, living less than a mile away. I recommend it to everyone I talk to if they are up for not only an afternoon of fun, but a bit of a challenge. A tip for the wise however; Bring enough sun tan lotion for you and your friends, and don't underestimate the sand hill cranes.