Tag Archives: Florida

Pelican’s Nest Golf Club – Members Delight in 36-Holes of Newly Renovated Golf by Tom Fazio

Over the past two years, one thing has been constant at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club: change. During that time, both The Gator Course and The Hurricane Course, have been completely renovated, from tee to green. The results will amaze you.

Back in 1995, world-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio was asked to design an 18-hole golf inside the gates of the Pelican Landing community. The primary goal at the time was to provide guests of two local resorts, The Registry and the Ritz Carlton, a place to play golf during the busy winter season. The course was an immediate hit and was ranked as the country’s “#3 Best Public Golf Course” by Golf Digest, giving Fazio his first appearance on the publication’s prestigious lists. Pelican’s Nest has also been recognized by Audubon International as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” every year since 2001, a crowning achievement for both the club and its members.

During the next 10 years, Fazio was called on to build a second course. Eighteen holes were added in phases, and, with each new phase there was some rerouting involved. Several years later, after several holes were taken from the original design and many new ones were added, Pelican’s Nest or, “The Nest,” as it is affectionately referred to, is the 36-hole facility that it is today. Rest assured, both courses are always in pristine condition.

One of the biggest concerns during the renovation projects of the last two years, was how to best use reclaimed water and become more environmentally friendly. Golf course architect Jan Bel Jan, who oversaw the original construction of the courses, and installed over 1.25 miles of HDPE pipe that takes the reclaimed water to an irrigation pump station where well water is blended with reclaimed water in an effort to manage salts in real time and reduce water use, improving water and power efficiency.

From the back tees, the par-72 Hurricane Course plays 6,808 yards, with a course rating of 73.6 and a slope of 139. Most golfers will find that Tee IV at 6,075 yards will give them all the golf they can handle and still leave with a little dignity intact.  There are 7 sets of tees available for men, women and juniors. The bottom line is that whether you’re a seasoned golf professional or are just picking up a club for the very first time, there’s a set of tees that will help you enjoy your round. As your game improves, you can take on more of the course.

In renovating The Nest Bel Jan created a “course within a course.” These “scoring tees” eliminate a lot of the fairway hazards and make each course a lot easier to manage and navigate your way around. While the championship tees are identified with Roman numerals, the scoring tees are identified with an “S” and have their own scorecard. Many members use them on a regular basis and comment on “how much more fun the game has become” since they started incorporating them into their weekly rounds. After all, lower scores mean happy members!

Although the slope rating doesn’t reflect it, most members consider The Hurricane Course the more difficult of the two. Hurricane winds its way around Spring Creek and the boundaries on the back nine are dictated by brackish marshes and natural thickets of mangroves along the Gulf estuary. You’ll also encounter groves of native Florida oaks and pine trees as you make your way around the layout.

Memorable Holes: The Hurricane Course features several memorable holes, but nothing more memorable than the last two holes on each side. Number 8 (Temptation) is a par 5 that plays 488 yards from Tee III and offers two ways to play the hole. Option A is the riskier of the two and requires a tee shot down the right side of the fairway, bringing the water into play if you push your shot too far right. A good drive down the right side will give you an opportunity to get home in two. The bunker that used to come into play on the right side and run about 200 yards up to the green has been replaced by three smaller bunkers, which makes the hole less difficult. Playing down the left side makes this a three-shot hole for most players and takes a lot of the hazard out of play. Regardless of the direction you choose, you’ll need an accurate approach to the green if you want to score well.Hurricane 18 - Par 5 - 504yards - #4

Number 9 (Moonscape) is a lengthy par 4 (408 yards from Tee III) around a lake. The third bunker on the left side of the fairway is a good aiming point off the tee; if you can fade it, even better. Most players will be faced with a long iron or hybrid into the elevated green that is protected on the left by a large trap and on the right by the lake. This hole was given its name by Gary Player, who said the humps and hollows of the hole reminded him of the surface of the moon.

The first of two challenging finishing holes, Number 17 (Spring Creek) is a short Par 4. At a mere 332 yards, the trick here is to keep your tee shot in play. The fairway is guarded by hazards on either side.  Consider leaving the driver in the bag, and hit something that will find the fairway. This will leave a short chip shot into an open green protected by a lone bunker on the right. A great opportunity to make birdie!                           Hurricane 17 - Par 4 - 358yards - #4

Number 18 (Teaser) is a par 5 that plays 498 yards (Tee III) and is one of the best finishing holes of golf in southwest Florida; in fact, it’s rather scenic standing on the tee.  It’s one of those holes that yields as many birdies and eagles as it does the dreaded “others,” and presents yet another risk/reward opportunity at The Nest. The hole is a dogleg right around a lake with a narrow landing area.  The water on the right can come into play for longer hitters. A good drive down the right side will present a good opportunity to go for the green in two. It’s about a 220 yard carry over water to a relatively flat green. If you play it as a three-shot hole, be sure to avoid the sand that protects the green on either side. This hole provides a fitting end to a great round of golf.

Also of note is the first hole; after all, how many times do you start your round out with a par 3?

The Nest also boasts some pretty impressive practice facilities including a full length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag; trust me, you’ll need them all. There’s a short game area complete with practice bunker in a separate area near the 18th green as well as a good size practice putting green. The driving range is conveniently located a short walk from the clubhouse.

After your round, be sure to visit the Thirsty Pelican Lounge & Grill Room or have a drink on the veranda, which offers an expansive view of Spring Creek and the finishing hole on the Gator Course. Either venue will provide a great opportunity to unwind after a round or to visit with friends over cocktails and dinner. The view at sunset is breathtaking.

If you’re one of the many prospective club members that judges a country club by its dining facilities and menu, then look no further than The Nest. Whether you’re looking for a quiet dinner with friends or dancing the night away at one of the club’s themed event nights, the newly redecorated Main Dining Room is a perfect venue. In fact, The Nest boasts two private dining rooms and can accommodate events large or small; it’s perfect for corporate events, weddings and private wine dinners. Chef Cameron Hord and the culinary staff at The Nest offer a wide variety of culinary delicacies featuring signature seafood dishes and other delights.

The daily menu features many entrees you don’t often see, such as Wonton Pork Belly Tacos, Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad and Blackened Grouper Tacos, served with a mango salsa and chipotle aioli. They are simply delicious. Dinner features dishes such as a Duck and Bacon Wonton appetizer, Crazy Shrimp and Magnificent Meatballs. There are also themed nights during the week such as Pasta Night on Wednesday, Seafood Buffet Night every Friday and Prime Rib Night, every second Thursday.

Although The Nest features 36 holes of spectacular golf, members need more than just a great golf course. The Nest delivers by putting together a very active social calendar for their members full of programs and the events that are unrivaled by any other country club in the area. Each event has a well thought out theme; many are centered around special days such as Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day.

One program that has become very popular among the membership is “Tuesday Talks,” a series of presentations designed to capture, engage, educate and entertain.  Upcoming topics include media matters, Southwest Florida’s natural environment and how to build and sustain a great baseball club, presented by a representative from the Boston Red Sox.

The Tea Time Book Club is also very popular at The Nest and already has a full schedule of events set up through the middle of next year. New members who are avid readers will want to check this out.

These are just a few of the ongoing happenings at The Nest Golf Club. For more information or to inquire about becoming a member, contact A. J. Szymanski – Director of Membership Sales at (239) 992-7782.  You can also visit them online at www.nestgolf.com.

The Reserve Course – Orange Lake’s Oldest and Newest Course

A lot of families that visit the Orlando area are familiar with Orange Lake Resort and their upscale condominium style accommodations, villas and time share units. The resort also features a full array of amenities including swimming pools, tennis courts, mini golf, a workout facility, meeting/conference areas and multiple dining options.

But what they may not be aware of is that Orange Lake Resort also boasts two of the area’s best conditioned and challenging championship golf courses: The Legends Course and The Reserve Course. Best of all, you don’t have to be a resort guest to play here, these courses are open to the public.

The Reserve Course could be considered both the oldest and the newest course at the resort. It was originally designed by Joe Lee in 1982, 16 years before Arnold Palmer and company designed the Legends Course. In 2005, golf course architect Mike Dasher completely redesigned the layout, adding new water features and more sand, as well as rerouting and redesigning seven holes. The result is one of the more challenging courses in the Orlando area.

There are only three sets of tees on the Reserve Course, but not to worry, they’re suitable for just about everyone. From the tips (Blue Tees), Orange Lake measures 6,505 yards with a course rating of 71.8 and a slope of 137. Most players will find the White Tees (6,031 yards/69.4/118) quite challenging, while Ladies and Seniors will find the Yellow Tees (5,119 yards/68.3/1) an enjoyable distance to play from.

The Reserve Course plays to a par of 71. As you make your way around the course, you’ll see pristine wetlands around many of the green complexes. You’ll also see a wide variety of Florida plants and wildlife. As mentioned earlier, Dasher added several water hazards and a lot more sand, in the form of both bunkers and waste areas. There’s a fair amount of roll and undulation in the fairways as well as on the new MiniVerde putting surfaces.

Most Memorable Hole: Number 10. Par 5, 504 yards (White Tees). Number 10 is undoubtedly the most interesting hole on the course. This long dogleg left starts out with a tee shot over a lake to a fairway that features a trio of bunkers straight away. Short of the bunkers is good, left, not so much. The right side of the fairway should be avoided too; there’s a stream that runs down the right side and then cuts across the fairway to another lake on the left that needs to be navigated on your approach shot. Plan on favoring the right side of the fairway with your layup shot, just be warned, it’s a narrow landing area. Then. play your approach shot over the second lake to a well-elevated green protected on the right by a large deep bunker. Make a par – or better – and consider the round a success!

Favorite Par 3: Number 5. Par 3, 171 yards. A long par 3 with a bailout area – if you need it. From the tee, it’s all carry over the marsh. Even if you bail out to the right, you’re still going to have to get over the marsh area off the tee. Bailing out is no sure thing either; there’s a large bunker over there that makes up and down extremely difficult. Once you get on the green, pay close attention, there are a lot of subtle little breaks.

Favorite Par 4: Number 18, 36 yards (White Tees). A fitting end to a great round. This dogleg left features a cluster of bunkers in the landing area and a wall of trees to the left. The good news is that the tree line can be carried off the tee, the bad news is you’ll have to land the ball between a large pond and the cluster of bunkers. A good drive will leave a mid to short-iron approach shot to a large green with some subtle undulations.

Favorite Par 5: Number 4, 531 yards. Should you succeed, this long, demanding par 4 is a well-earned par. The tee shot requires a forced carry over a marshland to a fairly large landing area with bunkers and condos on the right side. Because of the length and shape of the hole, most players play this as a three-shot hole. The landing area for your layup shot is narrow with a large bunker on the right side. The large green is fronted by a large bunker and features a lot of undulation. This is another hole where par is a well-earned score.

Last Word: This Mike Dasher design has a lot to offer golfers of all abilities. It’s definitely not the longest course in the area and is certainly not going to overpower anyone. What it will require is that you think your way around the course, especially on holes like the par 5, 10th, which takes accuracy, length and brains. Another interesting hole is the par-3 12th hole, which requires an accurate shot off the tee in order to have a shot at par. It may be the course’s shortest hole, but it is also one of the most difficult too, with two deep bunkers surrounding the green to the left and water hazards on the right. Miss the green and par is a tough score to make.

The Reserve Course shares a clubhouse with the newly renovated Cranes Bend, an executive style nine-hole course. The clubhouse features a well-stocked pro shop plus a restaurant/lounge. Also on property is Legends Walk, a lit par three nine-hole course that takes tee times until 9 PM. There’s plenty of room to tune up your game and includes a spacious driving range nearby that is open late. The practice facilities also include a large practice putting green. Although a fair amount of The Reserve Course winds through the resort community, many of the holes have nothing but nature around them and are very secluded. If your goal is to find a golf course in the Disney area that will challenge your golf game and don’t want to break the bank to do it, pay a visit to the Reserve Course at Orange Lake Resort. For more information or to book your next round, visit their website at www.orangelakegolf.com.

The Legends Course at Orange Lake Resort – A Great Value in the Orlando Area

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.