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Walt Disney World Golf - An Overview

What in the World?
A weekly peek at Walt Disney World

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect.  It is at the same time, rewarding and maddening.  It is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented." – Arnold Palmer

I have always been big on exploring and finding new things to do at Walt Disney World.  If you are a frequent Disney guest, an annual passholder, or a local Florida resident, it is important to find things that will keep your interest in Walt Disney World fresh.  When I moved to Orlando, I promised myself I would find other things to do in and around Walt Disney World to occupy my free time, because I did not want to ruin the fun and excitement of going to a park.  While there are still a lot of things I have yet to do, I find myself most intrigued with the large variety of golfing options available on property.

Unfortunately, I have a checkered history when it comes to golf.  Before I moved to Orlando, it seemed liked I picked up the sport every few years, negating any progress that I had made.   I suppose the reason for my long absences was my poor play and my ferocious temper when I sliced into the trees.  However, I always come back to the game, because let’s face it; smacking a golf ball with a club can be very therapeutic and addictive (if done right)

Disney boasts some five different golf courses on property:   Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge, Palm, Magnolia, and Oak Trail.  The variety and difficulty of each course is considerable.  Lake Buena Vista, Palm, Osprey Ridge, and Magnolia are all championship 18-hole golf courses.  The Magnolia and the Palm play host the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, a yearly PGA Tour event in October.  Oak Trail is a walking nine-hole golf course, targeted for beginners and those looking to hone their game at a reasonable price.

Thus far, I have played at Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge, Magnolia and Oak Trail.  All have their own charm, difficulty, and fun factor.  I enjoy Oak Trail the most probably because its designed for beginners, and if I have a very good day, I can do reasonably well there.  Aside from the training wheels of golf courses, I think Osprey Ridge was the most fun.  It is out of the way, secluded, boasting large fairways and a wide selection of animals to avoid hitting.  Case in point, on the second hole, I hit my second shot about 15 feet from a sleeping alligator who was straddling the fairway and a pond.  Needless to say I completely avoided that ball and hit my third shot for a safe distance away.   Despite that, it added to the experience and made the round much more memorable.  The hardest of the three for me was Magnolia.  Narrow fairways, long holes, and unforgiving greens, Magnolia was a constant source of frustration for me.  

Despite my very beginner status, I do enjoy partaking in Disney’s golf courses.  There is something to be said about getting ready to tee off and hearing the Magic Kingdom train’s whistle blow in the distance.  But how does one enjoy Disney’s golf courses?  Well that’s simple...Disney has made making a tee time effortless and convenient for its guests.  Much like booking an advanced dining reservation, guests may call the Disney Golf number: (407) 938-GOLF to book their tee times.   In addition, Disney also allows its guests to make their tee time over the internet.  All one has to do is go to the Walt Disney World Golf Page and input the necessary information.  Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort may book tee times ninety (90) days in advance, with a confirmed reservation number.  This is a huge advantage, especially during holidays.  Non-resort guests are allowed to book tee times up to sixth (60) days in advance.  The five golf courses try to accommodate walk-up golfers, however, it is always best to make a tee time reservation online or by calling Disney, even if it is just 1-2 hours before you plan to walk-up.

For some, there are ways to save on playing fees.  Disney's Annual Golf Membership  ($50.00), which may only be purchased by Florida residents, allow members to play any Disney Golf Course year-round at discounts up to 60% off regular rates for you and up to three guests after 10 a.m.   Disney Vacation Club members are also eligible to purchase a golf membership that provides discounts off regular rates for you and up to three guests.   Annual passholders are eligible for discounts up to 30% off regular day guest rates for you and up to three guests.  If you plan on golfing regularly, these discounts can save you a tremendous amount of money over the long term.   Of course the biggest savings come with the Premium Annual Pass, which allows guests unlimited golf at Disney Oak Trail, all year round.  This is especially helpful for those that are trying to improve or refine their games and don’t have the money to enjoy one of Disney’s other golf courses regularly.  

As with many golf courses, a strict dress code is adhered to.  Men are required to wear slacks or Bermuda-length shorts and either sports shirts or collarless designer golf shirts. Tee shirts, sleeveless shirts, and shirts “in poor taste” are not permitted.   Women are required to wear Bermuda-length shorts.   Women may wear sleeveless shirts; however, tank-tops or tube-tops are not permitted.   Disney also requires the use of metal spike alternatives or spikeless golf shoes on its courses. 

Finally, if you are worried about how to get to one of Disney’s golf courses from your resort, transportation to and from the golf courses is complimentary.  You will get a voucher from Guest Services to give to the taxi driver. T he voucher includes a gratuity for the taxi driver. Decide how far in advance of your tee time you want to be at the course, giving yourself enough time to check in, hit some balls at the range and practice putting.  Then decide on what time you want to leave the hotel to arrive at the course, giving yourself a good 15-20 minute travel time from your resort to the courses, depending upon where you are staying and which course you are playing.   Call Guest Services a half hour before you want to leave the resort and let them know you want a taxi to take you to the course and what time you want to be picked up. To get back to your resort, Let the cast member in the pro shop know when you want to leave, giving them a good 10-15 minutes advance warning.  They will call a taxi and give you a voucher for the return ride.   Again, the voucher includes a gratuity for the taxi driver.

With all of that information in mind, I will be hitting the links in the next few weeks (when it isnt unbearable hot and humid outside).  I will have a full report soon thereafter, as well as more information about Disney’s golf courses and more tips on how to make your golf outing a memorable one.

Until next time! Oh, and as promised, our free giveaway this time involves something easy, fun, and interactive as well.  Just attend Studios Central’s next chat, and at a randomly selected time, we’ll post a picture from somewhere in the Studios.  If you are the first to identify where the picture was taken, you’ll win a Studios Central t-shirt on us!  So keep an eye on the boards for our next scheduled chat.