Updated on March 11th, 2023 at 10:04 am
If you’re a golf enthusiast like us, you know Orlando is a true paradise for golfers. With stunning courses designed by some of the biggest names in the industry, Orlando has become a premier destination for golfers.
In this review, we will take you on a journey to some of the best golf courses in Orlando. We have personally played some of these courses and will provide insight into what makes each course unique and what you can expect from your round of golf.
From the breathtaking views of Bay Hill Club and Lodge to the challenging yet enjoyable Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, we will explore what makes each course a must-play for any golf enthusiast living in Orlando or visiting.
So, grab your clubs, and let’s hit the fairways of Orlando’s top golf courses together!
Best public golf courses in Orlando, Florida
Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge is a premier golf destination in Orlando, known for its beautiful scenery and challenging course. Located in the heart of Orlando, this course spans 27 holes and offers a true test of skill for golfers of all levels.
One of its standout features is the stunning lakeside scenery that can be enjoyed throughout the course. The management does a good job in course maintenance keeping the greens and fairways pristine.
But that’s not all; the facilities at Bay Hill Club & Lodge are top-notch, with an excellent practice range, putting green, and clubhouse. The staff is friendly and accommodating, providing exceptional service to ensure every aspect of your experience is enjoyable.
Most people are in love with the 18th hole on the Championship Course. With its challenging water hazard and beautiful view of the clubhouse, it’s a must-play. The par-3 17th hole on the Challenger Course is also a standout, courtesy of its elevated tee and well-placed bunkers.
Celebration Golf Club
Located in the charming town of Celebration, in the suburbs of Orlando, Celebration Golf Club is a must-play for golfers looking for a fun and challenging round of golf. This 18-hole course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. (Masters of golf course architecture) and offers a unique blend of traditional and modern design elements.
Over the years, the Celebration Golf Course has hosted numerous events, including the Florida State Public Links Championship, the Golf Channel’s Drive, Chip, and Putt Finals, and the U.S. Senior Open Qualifier.
The course at the Celebration Golf Club is challenging but not too difficult, making it a great option for players of all levels. The staff is friendly and welcoming, ensuring every aspect of your experience is enjoyable.
It’s worth noting that the golf course is a few minutes from Walt Disney World Resort and less than 20 minutes from other attractions, including Discovery Cove, Sea World, Downtown Orlando, Universal Studios, and Islands of adventure. So, the Celebration Golf Club has something to offer whether you’re here for vacation or on a business trip.
The first thing you’ll notice when you step on the green is the beautiful scenery. The course winds through lush Florida wetlands and features stunning views of natural wildlife. The 18th hole is particularly picturesque, with a waterfall and lake creating a stunning backdrop for the finishing hole.
Finally, for a public course, I love how organized they are. You can pick your preferred tee times and pay the corresponding rates from their website easily.
Orange County National – Crooked Cat
Orange County National (Crooked Cat) is a premier golf destination in Winter Garden, just outside of Orlando. This course, along with Panther Lake (its sister course), is open to the public and is a great option for pro and amateur golfers alike. Speaking of pro golfers, the course is well maintained, and it’s common to see pro golfers practicing and playing here.
Designed by Phil Ritson and David Harman in 1998 with input from Isao Aoki, a pro-Japanese golfer. They designed it into a links-style course with a unique Scottish and Florida terrain blend. The course spans 18 holes and offers a challenging yet enjoyable round of golf.
Since the course has minimal trees and many twists and turns, the golfing difficulty is mainly affected by wind. The back nine is the toughest from any side, while the 12th hole presents the toughest scoring test.
The staff here are friendly. accommodating, and providing exceptional service to ensure that every aspect of your experience is enjoyable. The course maintenance is also top-notch, with the greens and fairways in excellent condition.
Orange County National – Crooked Cat facilities are excellent and include a practice range, putting green, and a clubhouse. For beginners, there’s a Golf School Academy and teaching pros to help you master your golfing skills. The clubhouse features a restaurant and bar, making it a great place to relax after your round.
Falcon’s Fire Golf Club
Falcon’s Fire Golf Club is a public course in Kissimmee, just a short drive from Orlando. This 4-star 72-par golf course spans over 7,000 yards and has two decently large lakes divided by the 16th hole.
Over the four decades it’s been open, the course has gained regional and national recognition as one of Orlando, Florida’s best public golf courses. Rees Jones and Greg Muirhead meticulously designed this course and added a large clubhouse that acts as a venue for various occasions. It’s worth pointing out that the course has excellent staff and amenities ranging from exquisite dining facilities to stylish apparel and GPS on the golf carts.
The course challenges include water hazards, undulating greens, and bunkers. These obstacles make the course ideal for pros and local golfers. Speaking of locals, Falcon Fire golf club uses dynamic pricing to vary green fees based on general demand, the weather, and booking lead time. Overall, there are two prices, one for Florida residents and the other for out-of-state visitors. If you book your tee time in advance, you may part with about $77 compared to $117 at the gate.
Note: in 2010, Falcon Fire renovated its green with a TifEagle turf which provides golfers with smoother and faster-putting conditions throughout the season.
Championsgate Golf Resort – International Course
Championsgate Golf Resort is a premier golf destination in Championsgate, just outside of Orlando. This course features 18 holes and is a great option for golfers looking for a challenging round of golf.
In comparison to the courses, we’ve reviewed so far, the Championsgate Golf Resort – International Course is new. It was designed by Greg Norman, Tad Burnett, and Mathew Dusenberry in 2000. The trio designed the 18-hole course spanning over 1,500 acres of land with rolling fairways and strategic bunkering, creating a challenging yet enjoyable round of golf for players of all levels.
The course also has a large clubhouse, practice facilities, swimming pools, a fitness center, and sand volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts for visitors to enjoy.
It’s open all year round, and the greens are covered by Champion Bermuda Grass. To cater to pros and beginners, the designers built four tees as below:
- Black – 7363 yards
- Blue – 6792 yards
- White – 6239 yards
- Gold – 5618 yards
The black tee has a 143 slope while the gold has a 117 solve, making them ideal for pros and beginners, respectively.
One of the standout features of the International Course is the stunning scenery, with natural wetlands and preserved woodlands creating a beautiful golfing experience. The par-4 14th hole, in particular, is a favorite among golfers, with a challenging tee shot over water.
Championsgate Golf Resort – National Course
The International and National resorts offer a good 1-2 punch for golfers to enjoy. Given their differences, playing them in combination offers a wholesome experience.
We’d love to mention that the National course features the original Championsgate design with outstanding par tees that accommodate all golfing skills. Like the international, the National has four tees; Black, Blue, White, and Red. Black is the longest and steepest at 7197 yards and 128 slope, while red is the shortest at 5121 yards and 106.
The course has a bunker, a teaching pro, and a golf school academy – Leadbetter Golf Academy on site. This is perfect for beginners or semi-pros looking to learn and improve their skills.
In comparison to the international course, the National course is shorter, has a more traditional design, and is more forgiving. Regardless of these differences, the two golf courses provide a great golfing experience.
The Links Course – Grand Cypress Golf Club at Evermore Resort
The Links Course at Grand Cypress Golf Club is a Scottish-style links course located within the Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Florida. Designed by Steve Smyers, the course takes inspiration from classic courses in Scotland and offers a unique and picturesque golfing experience.
It features wide, open fairways, large greens, and natural water features, including a signature “Island Green” on the 16th hole. Overall, the links-style layout provides a more relaxed and enjoyable golfing experience, with less emphasis on punishing rough and hazards and more on creativity and shot-making.
The facilities at Grand Cypress Golf Club are first-class, with a well-appointed clubhouse featuring a restaurant and bar, pro shop, and locker rooms. The staff is friendly and professional, providing excellent service to guests.
Orange County National Golf Center – Panther Lake
Orange County National Golf Center – Panther Lake is a public golf course in Winter Garden, just outside of Orlando. This course has 18 holes and is known for its challenging yet enjoyable layout. It has six 72-par tees, namely Champ, Orange, Green, White, White (W), and Tan (W). The Champ tee is 7350 yards with a 139 slope, while the Tan (W) is 5319 yards long with a 123 slope.
Designed by Phil Ritson, Isao Aoki, and Dave Harman in 1997, Panther Lake features rolling fairways, large greens, and strategically placed bunkers and hazards. The course has turned into a favorite among locals and visitors alike and is known for excellent maintenance, with the greens and fairways kept in pristine condition all year round.
For beginners, there’s a practice hole, a golfing academy, and a teaching pro to help them get better at golfing. And when you get famished, you can refuel your body energy at the course restaurant and hang out at the clubhouse.
Grand Cypress Resort (The New)
The New Course at Grand Cypress Resort is an 18-hole championship golf course that was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Given its modern design and obstacles, the course is a must-play destination for golfers of all skill levels.
The New Course features rolling fairways, large greens, and strategically placed bunkers and hazards, providing a more challenging and memorable golfing experience than the Links Course. The facilities at Grand Cypress Resort are top-notch, including a clubhouse featuring a restaurant and bar, pro shop, and locker rooms. Moreover, the staff is friendly and professional and provides excellent service to guests.
The New Course is well-maintained, open to the public, and offers excellent value for money, with reasonable green fees and various packages and specials available.
Although different golfers have their favorite holes on The New Course, some notable holes include the 4th, 9th, and 18th holes, which have scenic views and challenging shots.
Waldorf Astoria G.C.
If you’re looking for a break from nature’s Kingdom, book a tee session at the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club. This course is designed to let you take in nature’s beauty as you test your golfing skills.
Except for a couple of hotels that tower above the treetops on the horizon, you’d never guess you were in the middle of Walt Disney if you were brought here blindfolded. The course is beautiful with amazing rolling fairways, fragrant flora, and lots of water. The fairways are decently wide but have little room for error when you miss.
The 18-hole golf course was designed by Rees Jones, who was keen to complement the course’s beauty with equally stunning facilities. The practice green isn’t big, but it’s well-executed and can handle all golfers.
Even better, Waldorf Astoria provides a premium experience from your arrival. The two amenities that’ll improve your golfing experience here are the GPS carts and a rest station that you pass twice on your golfing session. Although it’s expensive, the beauty, facilities, and service they provide are worthwhile.
In conclusion, Orlando boasts some of the best golf courses in the country, and each course we’ve reviewed has its unique appeal. From Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge to the New Course at Grand Cypress Resort, every course offers a challenging and memorable golfing experience.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned golfer, you’ll find a course that suits your skill level and preferences in Orlando. So, book a tee time today and enjoy the beautiful scenery and top-notch facilities that Orlando’s golf courses have to offer.
Thinking of traveling to another location? Be sure to check out our recent reviews of the best Myrtle Beach golf courses as well as our top courses in Naples and our choice for the Best public golf courses in Maryland.