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|If you have time to play Bay Hill, 12 miles from the airport, you're likely to fall in love with it, just like the King did. (Charles Sonnenblick/eclipsesportswire.com)|
Sitting in Orlando International Airport (MCO) waiting for a connecting flight is enough to drive a person insane. After all, this city is one of the most trafficked entertainment destinations in the world.
It can be particularly torturous for a golfer, given that the Orlando area has more than 100 courses.
The good news is that many of the best, from Lake Nona Golf & Country Club to the Osprey Ridge course at Disney, are within miles of the airport.
So even if you've only got time for a quick nine, dash out of that stale airport air into the Florida sun and give these nearby tracks a try.
Lake Nona Golf & Country Club: Situated just a few minutes drive from the airport, this Tom Fazio/Andy Banfield track is consistently ranked among the top 100 in the world.
The course winds through natural pine forests and oak groves and runs along three lakes. It has hosted several international events, including the World Cup of Golf, the inaugural Solheim Cup and the inaugural USGA National Team Championships.
Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge: If you have time to play Bay Hill, 12 miles from the airport, you're likely to fall in love with it, just like the King did.
Legend has it Palmer went gaga for Bay Hill during a mid-'60s exhibition match in which he waxed Jack Nicklaus and decided he had to have it. Five years later the course was his.
The site of the Arnold Palmer Invitational (formerly the Bay Hill Invitational), the club has three tracks: Challenger, Champion and Charger. Dick Wilson designed the first two, and Palmer has renovated all three.
The Challenger and Champion courses, which combine to make up the tournament 18, are 7,204 yards from the Palmer tees. The Champion is considered the less challenging, though it has plenty of bunkering and water hazards and some of the most recognizable PGA Tour finishing holes.
Osprey Ridge: This golf course at Walt Disney World is a little more than 15 miles from the airport, and well worth cab fare. A Fazio design, Osprey Ridge has received 4½-star rating from Golf Digest and been recognized as one of the best golf courses in Florida. The accolades aren't wasted: The course is known for its impeccably maintained holes and large-scale bunkering.
"It all seems the perfect complement to the Disney World entertainment machine," Derek Duncan wrote in a story for OrlandoGolf.com.
Shingle Creek Golf Club: This course is located within a 15-minute drive of the airport, not to mention the Orange County Convention Center, Disney, Sea World and Universal Studios. While its best attribute may be its location, the well-manicured golf course and towering, 1,500-room hotel and convention center make it an inviting Orlando destination - for business or a vacation play. With large greens, rolling fairways and water hazards on nearly every hole, Shingle Creek is quintessential Florida golf.
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