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|Affordable Kissimmee Golf Club is just a quick half-hour trip from Orlando. (Courtesy photo)|
It's a right of passage for millions across the United States. When the weather starts cooling off, those in cold-weather states head south to warmer climes, where they can stretch their legs and enjoy all the warm weather has to offer.
Mainly seniors, these folks are known as "snowbirds" and have become an important part of many economies. It tends to be a happy marriage between location and snowbird, and in central Florida, these visitors not only get warm weather, they also get to check out the sights of Disney World and other locations, with an array of diverse and fun golf courses just waiting to be tried.
So snowbirds, this one is for you. Because while the big name course are fun, there's still plenty of time to take a look at some different courses nearby. Here are some interesting and fun courses you need to take a look at while you camp out in central Florida for the winter months.
North on the I-4 from Orlando, just up from Daytona Beach, you'll find some interesting golf in Ormond Beach. Take a look at the semi-private Riviera Country Club, which, while on the short side, will give you a solid round at 6,250 yards and 114 slope rating, with a very affordable green fee.
"Eric and Charlotte Myers are the owner/operators and I have enjoyed being a member very much," wrote 10-handicap Ben Ferguson. "The course is maintained very well. I have been a member of many different clubs and Riviera is the best and friendliest place to play and be a part of."
If you're just looking for a quick half-hour trip from Orlando to play a pleasant course with cheap green fees, head over to Kissimmee and give Kissimmee Golf Club a play. If players have some big-named courses to play, it's a decent 6,442 yards and 126 slope rating from the tips.
"I have only been playing since October and find this a good course to learn on. If you're looking for a challenging course, this is not it," wrote Ben Schneider, who carries a 25 handicap. "Fairways are pretty broad. Sand traps are not too threatening and water can be easily avoided. The greens are pretty easy, even for us beginners. I feel the condition of the course is satisfactory."
Of course, even if you don't want to travel too far, there are plenty of hidden gems in and closer to Orlando. The Highland Reserve Golf Club is a 6,673-yard charmer in nearby Davenport that's known for giving good service.
"Kudos to the staff - very courteous, from the clubhouse to the starter to the cart guys," wrote Dean Hountalas at OrlandoGolf.com. [It's a] fun golf course, and very challenging greens. If the winds kick up, it gets really tough, it is on high ground and some nice views."
If you're looking for a challenge, head to Lakeland. A Ron Garl course, The Club at Eaglebrooke is a challenging track worthy of repeat play, according to Tim McDonald in a review for FloridaGolfGuide.com. Some tight fairways and risk-reward opportunities will show you why this course is good enough to have hosted a 2005 Senior PGA qualifier, and a Futures Tour Championship.
"It's a modern design in an area full of old-time golf courses, with vast waste areas adding to the natural beauty," wrote McDonald. "It does wind through a neighborhood with adjacent homes."
February 22, 2007
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
The unlikely ascent of Severiano Ballesteros to the top echelon of golf is dramatized in the new film "Seve: The Movie," which is being released in select theaters throughout the U.S. in March and April. It skillfully interweaves documentary footage and dramatizations of formative events during Seve's childhood in rural Spain.
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