This is the third in a series of stories describing the best holes in the Orlando area.
Within the 75 courses in the Orlando area, there are dozens of great golf holes designed by the best names in the business – Fazio, Nicklaus, Palmer, Garl, Jones, Smyers, Norman.
GolfOrlando polled golf directors and golfers in the region to assist in creating a list of the best par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s in Orlando. We took those replies, mixed in a few of our own ideas, and came up with a list of the best holes in Central Florida.
This third in the series reveals our “Devilishly Delightful Dozen” Par 5’s.
Let us know your thoughts. Do you have beauties or beasts we are missing?
Bay Hill 6 – For the average golfer, this is one of the most visually intimidating holes in Central Florida. For the PGA Tour pros who compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational every March, it can be an eagle opportunity or a big number. Playing 555 yards from the tips, the hole bends left, forming a horseshoe around an imposing lake. Three well-struck shots make this a manageable par 5. One mishit left and double figures can come into play.
Bella Collina 12 – Playing 576 from the tips, the 12th hole at Bella Collina is a unique double dogleg with dramatic elevation change. The tee shot drops approximately 50 feet from the tee to the landing area where the fairway slopes away from the tee from right to left. The second shot drops even further to a flat fairway below for conservative players, or long hitters can try and go for two with a long iron or fairway wood over bunkers to an uphill green. This is a fun par 5 with many challenging decisions.
Eagle Creek 18 – There’s nothing like a great risk/reward par 5 to cap a round of golf, and it doesn’t get any better than Ron Garl’s 18th at Eagle Creek. Playing between 535 and 412 yards, the hole is reachable in two for those with some length off the tee. However, two extremely accurate shots are required. The tee shot must carry the fairway bunkers on the left and avoid the sprawling lake on the right. If that is accomplished, a fairway wood or long iron shot must carry the water in front of the green. The putting surface slopes severely from back to front.
Grand Cypress South 6 – Club and ball technology have combined to made some par 5’s obsolete. Not so with No. 6 at Grand Cypress Resort, thanks to the positioning of the green. If they bomb one off the tee, golfers may be tempted to pull out a fairway wood have a go at this green in two. Think twice. The putting surface sits high above the fairway, and begs for a lofted approach that can land softly and not roll off the edge, creating a near impossible up-and-down. A well-positioned second shot is the key blow on this hole.
Grande Pines 2 – Length is the main defense for this beautiful par 5, designed by Steve Smyers. It plays 618 yards from the tips, so for all but the longest of hitters this is a true three-shot par 5. It is a straight, narrow hole, so accuracy off the tee is a must. A sprawling bunker guards the left side of the landing area of the second shot, and a big bunker protects the right side of the green. Three good shots are needed to make par on this one.
Hawk’s Landing 18 – This outstanding finishing hole stands in the shadow of the beautiful Marriott World Center hotel. The three-shot hole plays 565 yards from the championship tees, and the fairway bottlenecks inside of 100 yards. A well-placed second shot is required to avoid the water that comes into play on the right side, and then guards the front of the wide but shallow putting surface.
MetroWest 4 – Playing at 610 yards from the back tees, this hole is a challenge to even the seasoned golfer. A narrow landing area off the tee stresses an accurate shot but requires a good bit of distance to try to make it across the water to the elevated green in two. Club selection for your second shot is key to this hole with a large fairway bunker guarding the layup area. The elevated three-tiered green complex is flanked by bunkers and requires your approach shot to be accurate.
Mission Inn El Campeon 17– This three-shot par 5 is one of the most unique you will ever play. It is a very tight driving hole, but that is just part of the challenge. A vintage oak tree stands in the middle of the landing area for your second shot. If you manage to execute two well-placed shots, you still have to hit your third over sand and water to a very fast, sloping green.
Mystic Dunes 17 - Distance is the key on this challenging hole that doglegs slightly to the left. It plays much longer than its yardage (571 yards from the tips) as it rises continuously from tee to green. Favor the right side of the fairway on your tee shot, as the fairway slopes to the left toward a sprawling waste bunker. Play to the right on your approach shot as the hill to the right of the green will help filter back errant shots. Don’t miss left.
Orange Lake 11 – You may feel as if you’ve been transported to the northeast when you tee it up on Orange Lake Resort’s 11th. The fairway is lined on both sides by trees, with two prominent trees in the landing area. This is a real beauty, brought to you by the design team at Arnold Palmer Golf.
Reunion Nicklaus 18 -- This exciting finishing hole offers you a chance to finish strong. Favor the right side of the fairway for obvious reasons. Bunkers frame the fairway and provide a second shot target. Avoid the expansive waste area down the entire left side, and a birdie opportunity is a good possibility.
Southern Dunes 9 – This deceptive hole looks easy on paper if you are able to avoid the continuous 350-yard fairway bunker from the tee on your right. A tee shot that finds the middle of the fairway will tempt you to go for the small, elevated green in two. The smarter shot is a layup, leaving a short wedge to the putting surface that slopes left to right and serves up very fast putts.