If you’ve been a follower for a while then chances are you saw a difference in our approach at the PGA Show this year. Although we spent a lot of time in meetings (unlike last year)… we still had to make the most of our Orlando golf experience. Which meant we couldn’t leave Florida without checking out one of the places we’ve been reading about for years: Winter Park Golf Course.
It seems like there has been a lot of buzz about some of the great, remote, bucket list courses in the last year. Yes, Streamsong looks amazing and I hope to one day to make the time and money for that trip but it’s not exactly our speed. Which is why Winter Park Golf Course was the most anticipated stop while at the show.
You can tell your about to have a unique experience as you drive in on the cobblestone roads and see the huge mossy oak trees and golfers crossing the street with bags on their backs. With that being said… it’s still hard to believe it’s only $20 to play and beers are only $2. Winter Park certainly lived up to all the hype.
Here at Golf Starz we are not huge fans of “rewriting” history. So…below is a little bit of the history of Winter Park Golf Course as told by Keit Rhebb and Riley Johns, the Course Architects. The history is out of the Yardage Guide book…
“Celebrating over 100 years of golf, Winter Park Golf Course has a unique and enviable history. Not only is it beleived to be the second oldest golf course in central Florida, it has seen legends such as Hogan, Snead, Sarazan and Hagan play it corridors. Understanding and respecting this historical significance, our intention was to provide the next chapter in the course’s legacy.”
“Winter Park Golf Course is the epitome of quaint community golf. It is relaxed and inclusive, has simple yet interesting routing, and is very affordable to play. Sharing the same main street as boutique shopping and fine dining, a quick round of golf with friends takes less than two hours to finish.”
“Following its complete rebuild in 2016, our goal was to revive the Winter Park Golf Course to the community icon it has been for over a century. By encasing both the strategic charm and course conditioning, we hope that we have left Winter Park residents and visitors with a golf course they can enjoy and be proud of for another 100 years.”
If that doesn’t get you going, then check your pulse.
There are a few driveable par 4’s but you really have to hit the correct shot to reap the reward. In fact, a bad miss could cost you more than a couple strokes. Even with edge to edge fairway, most holes are lined with either a busy street, expensive cars, or even more expensive homes. The natural nervousness of replacing the windshield of a Porsche will make even the straightest hitter rethink gripping and ripping on some of the “wide open” holes.
The course is truly designed to be a walking course, or if you are like us a push cart will do. The holes zig-zag their way through the streets of Winter Park and you find yourself, from time-to-time, waiting on traffic to cross the street to head to the next tee box. There are a lot of courses that really accentuate the natural features of the course, but Winter Park uniquely celebrates the suburban jungle it calls home. In today’s world there are very few courses like Winter Park.
Two of my favorite holes had to be number 4 and number 6. Hole four plays 495 yards from the tips. The left side of the fairway lines a cemetery and guarded by a well placed bunker. For the longer hitters you can take the dog leg left right out of play but don’t miss your mark by much because you could be in some trouble. If you pull the shot off then you are putting yourself in a very good position to card an eagle.
On paper hole 6 seems to be a “driveable” par 4. 262 yards from the tips, but strategically placed trees block your direct angle to the green. This hole sets up for a real risk/reward scenario. Lay up and play for a “birdie” or launch it over the trees or hit a fade and dance your drive up for an easy approach shot. You know the route we took… An added bonus is a commuter train rail lines the back part of the fairway and green. We were ending our round as the train made a pass; pretty cool experience.
Photo Courtesy of: Rhebb Golf Design
Once you get on the greens the fun really begins. They are big, fast and have some awesome contours. For reference, I drove the green on the first hole and 4-putted. I should have prefaced that by saying I am a terrible putter. But the point is, although it is a short course you don’t feel like you are getting cheated out on your golf experience. A steady diet of WP9 is sure to improve your approach and short game. And for $20… You’re losing money not giving the course a go.
There’s a reason Sir Nick Faldo dubbed it Winter Park National and why it was a candidate for 2017’s Best 9-Hole Course in America by Golf Digest.
In conclusion, it’s probably the best $20 I’ve ever spent on golf and I can’t wait to get back. The only disappointment is there is nothing like this in Ohio. Hopefully municipal courses around the country are paying attention and take notes on how Winter Park was revived. But if you’re ever in the Orlando area do yourself a favor and check it out. And as always, tell them Golf Starz sent you!