Golf Travel: Disney's Osprey Ridge

Golf in Florida has always been a favorite among players across the U.S. However, when most think of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida , few envision one of America's top golf resorts. In fact, to complement the world's most famous theme parks, the folks at Disney have built several great golf courses which may be some of Orlando's most affordable when played at the right times. Somewhat surprisingly, the Walt Disney World Resort was placed in "The Top 100 Golf Resorts" by Golf Magazine. Recently, I was fortunate enough to get a shot at two of these courses on my Floridia vacation.

Disney has hosted professional golf events for over thirty years. Among the champions of Disney golf events are greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. This year's US Open champion, Lucas Glover, won his first PGA Tour event at the FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World.

Disney continues to host a PGA Tour event, now known as the Children's Miracle Network Classic. That event will be one of the closing championships of the PGA Tour season, and it will run from November 9th to November 15th. This tournament is played on two of Disney's premier courses: Disney's Magnolia and Palm courses.

The other two major eighteen hole golf courses are Osprey Ridge and Eagle Pines. The two courses share the same upscale, contemporary style clubhouse, which features a restaurant, fully stocked proshop, and locker rooms.

The atmosphere at Osprey Ridge is just like any other golf resort, but with some Disney presence. Golfers may take pictures next to a humorous Mickey Mouse golf cart while Mickey is away on the links. Outside of the Disney logo, the presence of the Disney parks is hardly felt. Many golfers will find the courses a welcome respite from the tremendous crowds, high noise, fast pace, and high priced atmosphere located in the Disney parks.

Golfers may utilize the several large putting greens, or hit balls upon arrival. However, for those golfers on tight budgets who absolutely must hit balls, watch out for the $7.50 price for 45 range balls. There are several other courses and driving ranges in the Orlando area if golfers are looking to hone their swings.

Once you are ready to play, you will have access to the cutting edge Uplink GPS technology in Disney's golf carts. On a small screen inside the cart, the system offers electronic score keeping, yardages from basically everywhere on the course, and graphic overviews of all eighteen holes.

The course was designed by Tom Fazio, who was also the chief re-designer of Augusta National, in their effort to modernize the course. Fazio's work on Osprey Ridge is quite similar to his other famous tracks. Osprey Ridge features great risk reward golf , proven by many accessible holes if players can clear or stay away from major trouble. On the third hole, a 193 yard par three from the tips, a massive bunker lines the entire hole and wraps around the right side of the green. The course's number one handicap hole, the par four 14th, features an extremely tough approach shot with a long iron to a green which rolls toward a large body of water. Laying up is hardly an option with the best landing area threatened by more water as well as a large, deep bunker.

While the first hole at Osprey Ridge is relatively tame, the eighteenth is gorgeous lined by seven fairway bunkers down the right side, water lining the entire hole, and another tough bunker on the left side for players attempting to avoid the right side's trouble. Golfers must fire into an extremely narrow green, again lined by bunkers on both sides and water. The last hole plays at a massive 454 yards considering the danger which could potentially wreck many good rounds.

Overall, the course features may tough par 3's, several long par 4's, and rewarding par 5's. Any golfer can have fun at this course, but spraying shots will never yield good results. While the course is nicely manicured, some of the sand in the bunkers may be a bit too hard, and the greens are somewhat slow, even for a southern course. Also, for golfers who are easily disturbed by loud noises, the train at the Magic Kingdom blasts its siren-like horn constantly, audible for the entire back nine and most of the front nine. If frequent loud noises bother you, your round may be difficult. Luckily, it makes a great excuse for why you shanked that last shot.

From the four different tees, the yardages at Osprey Ridge are as follows:
1. Talon- 7101 Yards (3548/3553)
2. Crest - 6680 Yards (3324/3356)
3. Wings - 610
3 Yards (2982/3121)
4. Feathers - 5402 Yards (2598/2804)

Unless you are planning to play several days, I would not recommend bringing your own clubs. Disney offers rentals with an inventory of Titleist and Cobra sticks. However, the rentals are pricey, so if you do plan playing several days, it is probably worth lugging them down.

If you are planning a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, the Disney courses are definitely a "must play." It is no secret that Orlando will provide spectacular weather, and any golfer should take advantage of the great courses on location.

1 Response to "Golf Travel: Disney's Osprey Ridge"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think that Disney's professional event used to be at Osprey and Eagle Pines.

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