Odds are that Kemmons Wilson is not a household name or even a name that comes up every now and then in golf locker rooms around the country, but believe it or not, the man had a lot to do with the proliferation of professional golf in the US. Wilson is the founder of Holiday Inn and if you were to ask any professional golfer from the 50’s and 60’s, you’ll probably hear stories of how Holiday took them in and gave them a place to stay while they competed.
On the other hand, the name Arnold Palmer is a household name; it’s probably safe to say that, because he dabbled in so many other things beside golf, his name is well-known outside of golf too. Arnold Palmer has arguably done as much for golf as anyone else.
Put these two together and what do you get? The Legends Course at Orange Lake Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Orange Lake Resort is known for upscale condo-style accommodations, villas and timeshares as well as a complete array of amenities that include swimming pools, tennis, miniature golf, a fitness center, lots of dining and meeting room options, 2 championship 18-hole golf courses and two executive courses; one that is lit for night play.
Arnold Palmer Design Group built the Legends Course. There are five sets of tees to challenge men and women of all abilities. The Back Tees measure 7,072 yards with a slope rating of 132 and a course rating of 72.2. I found the Blue Tees at 6,263 yards (71.1/124) was the perfect length for my game and allowed me to leave with a little dignity still intact. Seniors will be challenged at 5,780 yards (68.7/120) while ladies will enjoy the Yellow Tees (5,188/92.3/120). Pick the tees that best match your game and you’re sure to have a good time.
The Legends Course is a tale of two nines. The front side – sometimes referred to as the Links Nine – features wide fairways with significant landing areas and lots of rolling terrain. The Links Nine is much longer than the back (Pines) nine and has a real resort feel as it winds through the various lodging options of the resort. Water comes into play on about 4 holes on the outward nine as opposed to 7 of nine holes on the inward side. Many of these water hazards are pressed up against the greens and create precarious approach shots. The Pines Nine also features several fairways lined with Florida pines and majestic live oak trees that create narrow corridors off the tee. Several holes feature rock retaining walls that front the greens – a Palmer Design trademark.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 18: Par 5, 400 yards (Blue Tees). This long, dogleg left features water on the left side that starts into play about 250 yards off the tee. There is also fairway bunker in play on the left side off the tee and a waste bunker on the right. A good tee shot will still leave a long to mid-iron into and elevated green protected by sand and water on the left and a lot of mounding on the right.
Favorite Par 3: Number 3, 200 yards (Blue Tees). This long par 3 plays slightly downhill, but not quite a club less. It’s well protected on either side by deep-lipped bunkers that can make for a tough sandy. This can be a tough hole on a windy day, so choose your club wisely off the tee.
Favorite Par 4: Number 13, 375 yards (Blue Tees). Aesthetically, this signature hole is probably the nicest hole on the course. Your tee shot is blind and uphill; just aim for the middle of the fairway. From there, you should have a mid-iron downhill over water into a large multi-tiered green that features a lot of undulation. It’s a fun hole to look at; it’s even better to play!
Favorite Par 5: Number 4, 565 yards. Number 4 doglegs to the right and then back to the left, with all kinds of trouble along the way. It’s a double dogleg that features water on the right off the tee that comes into play if you try to get greedy. Steer clear of the water off the tee and you’ll have plenty of room for your layup shot. As the hole makes the second dogleg, you’ll be faced with a large waste bunker on the left side. If your approach shot is in the 150+ yards range, you’re facing a blind approach shot into a very small green protected front right and left by bunkers and water if you go long.
Last Word: The Legends Course at Orange Lake Resort is anything but your typical resort course. There are a lot of doglegs – both right and left – that require both length and accuracy to set up a second shot. There are a lot of elevation changes – 10 feet is a lot in this part of Florida – that create blind tee shots and layups. Large lips on many of the bunkers add a bit of difficulty getting it close out of the sand. And the greens – although a little on the slow side – feature a lot of undulation. Several have ridges in the middle that create multiple tiers. Another atypical feature about the Legends Course is the small greens; they really test your accuracy.
After your round, be sure to stop by the Legacy Grill, located in the Legend’s clubhouse. Guests can relax either indoors or out in the comfortable sports-themed setting. Enjoy food and drink with friends and family, all served by a friendly, knowledgeable staff. The restaurant is open from 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM, so breakfast, lunch and dinner are all in play. The menu is vast and has something for even the most discriminating of pallets. They also serve all your favorite post-golf libations.
The next time you find yourself in the Disney area with your golf clubs and several hours to kill, give the Legends Course at Orange Lake Resort a call at (407) 239-1050 or visit the website, www.orangelakegolf.com.