The late, great Arnold Palmer discovered – and fell in love with – Bay Hill when he was in Orlando playing an exhibition match in 1965. Five years later he bought it and created one of the most popular stops on the PGA tour.
His love affair with the city would bring many more golf developments, world-class hospitals and even the Golf Channel.
Tiger Woods had a home in Orlando. So, too, did Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Nick Faldo and a host of other players on the tour. And so, not surprisingly, the number of golf courses in Orlando is staggering. Narrowing down that list to the golf courses you should play this Fall was especially difficult to curate.
We did our best, though. Here are four courses you can really sink your spikes into.
Who wouldn't want to play the magnificent Tranquilo Golf Course at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World? Its 18-holes, Tom Fazio-designed links don't just offer a fun and challenging experience for players – it's downright relaxing (hence the name). What else would you expect from a certified Audubon sanctuary where wildlife is spotted on the daily?
If you're not lucky enough to live 10 minutes away at the Zen Luxury Apartments, be sure to grab a Cuban sandwich and a cocktail at Plancha, its clubhouse restaurant.
The Dubsdread Golf Course isn't just home to one of the city's consistently top-rated steakhouses (which boasts sublime views, by the way). It's a golf legacy in the City Beautiful that has been open since 1924. It's the former site of the Orlando Golf Open and has hosted many of the sport's greats, including Ben Hogan and Sam Snead.
College Park has remained a vital neighborhood in Orlando, with loads of dining and shopping just outside the walls of the club. In addition to the area's lovely homes, apartment communities such as The Princeton are attracting tenants in droves.
You know you're bound to find rolling greens in a town called Howey-in-the-Hills, and the terrain is just one of the reasons the Mission Inn Resort & Club's resident course is so lauded by locals.
With 36 gorgeous holes – comprised of the El Campéon and Las Colinas courses (the latter is listed on Golf Advisor's Top 25) – you'll wish you lived at Arbours at Silver Lake so you could play both early and often.
You might even consider holiday play. Dining at the resort is so popular that many locals come here with family for Christmas and Thanksgiving!
The tony little Orlando-metro burg of Winter Park is well-known for beautiful Park Avenue – shops and bistros, galleries and green spaces, all tucked into charming brick streets. And nearby, similarly tucked amid the moss-draped oaks, in the middle of a residential neighborhood is the Winter Park Golf Course.
Built in 1914, this local favorite was refurbished several years ago but has retained all its charm (and its reasonable fees – depending on the time of year, nonresidents can play its nine holes for between $14 and $20).
This course offers up some stellar play for newcomers, with three short Par-4 holes. But the dogleg 5th hole around Palm Cemetery is known as a challenging highlight of this lovely, little course. Of course, if you lived at Broadstone Winter Park, you could get a membership, play often and make it look easy!