The Palm Course at Walt Disney World just outside Orlando, FL was originally designed by architect Joe Lee in 1971. In 2013, the course underwent a major renovation by Arnold Palmer Course design which included creating entirely new green complexes, tee boxes and new bunker designs. The course is now managed by Arnold Palmer Golf Management and plays 7010 yards with a course rating of 71.9 and a slope of 138.
All in all, the designers made great use of the three key natural resources Florida provides: sand, water and palm trees. The course is now rated 4 stars by Golf Digest and features 9 holes where water comes into play and 94 bunkers. Whether you’re a single-digit handicapper or just learning the game, Disney’s Palm course with its elevated tee boxes and greens will give you all you can handle.
Unlike the two other courses on the property, the Palm Course requires a little more accuracy – both off the tee and on approach – as well as some shot making ability. The course winds through natural woodlands where you’ll find moss-clad oak trees, maple and cypress trees and small pockets of pines.
Memorable Holes (All Yardage is From the White Tees – 71.6/130)
Number 1, Par 5, 478 yards. Nothing like a modest-length par 5 to get you started on the right foot. The drive is relatively easy and wide open, save for a few palm trees on the left that can make your layup shot more challenging if you get behind them. Hit a layup shot that leaves you a manageable approach shot to an elevated green protected on the left side by a deep bunker. The green is relatively flat and the hole yields a lot of birdies.
Number 6, Par-4, 403 yards. This #1 handicapped hole is a dogleg left and features water all down the left side and also in front of the green. An aggressive line off the tee is to hit a draw over the corner of the water; push it right and you’re in Florida’s version of the jungle. A good drive will still leave an approach shot that needs to be hit precisely in order to make par – or better.
Number 13: Par 4, 348 yards. Although not the shortest par 4 on the course, #13 is not without it’s challenges. The first decision you have to make is about the large trees that sit between the fairway and the lake. Your decision is whether to go right or left of them. Going left, makes the hole a little longer but you will still have an approach shot of less than 150 yards. Going right, definitely shortens the hole, but adds more risk. If you hit long tee shots, there really is no decision, it’s right all the way. The green is small with water butting the right side and bunkers on either side. Short, yes; easy no!
Number 14: Par 5, 471 yards. A short par 5 that can provide a great boost for the scorecard. Long ball hitter should leave the driver in the bag; hit it too long and you’re in the water. Once you’ve successfully hit your tee shot, it’s decision time. A good tee shot will leave around a 200 yard approach shot, most carry, over water. If that shot’s not in your bag, you can play out to the right of the green and leave a short approach shot to an elevated, well-protected green. This is a great scoring hole.
Number 18: Par 4: 439 yards. A challenging hole primarily because of its length. It’s a straight away hole with strategically placed bunkers off the tee on either side of the fairway. The water on the right side also crosses the fairway in front of the green, giving anything hit short a watery grave. Even a good tee shot will leave a long approach shot to an elevated green. This is one of the best finishing holes in the area.
Last Word: The Disney Palm Course is a well maintained golf course that will challenge golfers of all skill levels. Water comes into play on a number of holes but does not create any demanding carries. What water there is has been well utilized to create fairway boundaries and make your round a little more challenging. The creek that crosses in front of the eighteenth green keeps you honest on your approach shot.
All of the lateral areas along the fairways play as lateral hazards, which helps to speed up your round. Keep in mind, the Disney courses are resort courses meaning all kinds of golfers – good and bad – are welcome to play the course at any time. Patience can become an integral part of your round; pace of play is estimated at between 4 hours and fifteen minutes to four hours and thirty minutes; which isn’t bad for a resort course on Disney property.
The greens are challenging to say the least. They feature a lot of undulation and tend to run on the large side. Hitting the green in regulation is one thing but leading yourself a really long putt can easily lead to bogey.
Also of note is that not all holes are grip-it-and-rip-it off the tee; a certain amount of “smart” golf is needed. Shaping the ball on these shorter holes can go a long in way in leaving short manageable chip shots into these primarily elevated greens.
All three of the Disney courses (Palm, Magnolia and Lake Buena Vista) are worth a look. The staff is kind and friendly always going that extra mile to make your experience enjoyable. The courses are well maintained, driving ranged are well-stocked as is the pro shop with all of you favorite golf Disney characters adorning golf apparel. For more information on this or any of the Disney courses, visit the website at www.golfwdw.com. You can also book your next tee time on the site. Go ahead and book a round at the happiest place on turf.