LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Walt Disney World Resort has grown from a place offering a couple afternoons of golfing fun to a world-class golf-vacation destination with four championship-caliber courses.
With a total of 81 holes on the 39-square-mile property, Walt Disney World Resort is one of the largest golf resorts in the country. In addition to scenic and challenging courses, Disney’s golf program offers instruction and well-equipped pro shops.
Combined with the vast offering of Walt Disney World hotels and entertainment meccas, the resort has earned a reputation as one of the great golf havens in the entire United States, variously earning gold and silver distinctions in Golf Magazine’s evaluation of America’s greatest resorts, garnering mention among the Top 75 Golf Resorts in America as selected by Golf Digest and among the 75 Top Golf Resorts Around the World honored by Condé Nast Traveler.
The Osprey Ridge course, introduced in 1992, was designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio. The Fazio championship design joins the Magnolia, Palm and Lake Buena Vista courses as championship venues. Rounding out the Disney courses is Oak Trail, a family-play nine-hole walking course.
The Magnolia and Palm courses, located on the northern portion of the Disney property near Magic Kingdom, were designed by Joe Lee and opened with Walt Disney World Resort in 1971. The following year, Lee added the Lake Buena Vista course, adjacent to the Downtown Disney entertainment complex.
Walt Disney World Resort has hosted the PGA TOUR for a fall Classic annually since 1971. Currently, the event — Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic — is played on the Magnolia and Palm courses. Walt Disney World Resort also hosts more than 400 other tournaments, camps and clinics, and other outings, large and small, each year. In 2002 and 2003 the Disney courses hosted the Coca-Cola/Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Golf Clinic as the world’s most recognizable player provided instruction and an exhibition for young players from five cities.
And as for vacationers from all over the world: Now more than ever, golf can be thought of as the primary reason for visiting Walt Disney World Resort. Here’s what’s in store:
Tom Fazio’s Osprey Ridge is a course unlike any other. With uncharacteristically rolling Florida terrain, Osprey Ridge is enjoyable for the resort guest as well as the accomplished professional. The course measures 7,101 yards from the back tees. From the middle tees it measures 6,680 yards, and from the forward tees it plays to 5,402 yards. Fazio designed Osprey Ridge with both the golfer and the environment in mind. Having disturbed as little vegetation as possible, the course winds through dense vegetation, oak forests and moss hammocks. Fazio himself considers this one of his best.
As one of the two original Disney golf courses, the Magnolia opened in October 1971, and immediately became home for a PGA TOUR event. In true PGA TOUR style, this beautifully manicured course has all the earmarks of a golfer’s paradise: elevated tees and greens, rolling terrain, and a very special bunker on the sixth hole in the shape of you-know-who. The Joe Lee-designed course is aptly named for its over 1,500 magnolia trees.
The natural beauty of Florida woodlands makes the Palm not only a pleasure to play but also one of Walt Disney World’s toughest. Rated one of Golf Digest’s “Top 25 Resort Courses,” this Joe Lee course measures 7,015 yards from the back tees, 6,461 from the middle and 5,414 from the front. With greens recently rebuilt from the drainage basin up, this course is perhaps better than new. Save a sprinkle of pixie dust for No. 18 — it’s been rated as high as fourth toughest on the PGA TOUR.
Lake Buena Vista
Built in 1972, this Joe Lee course stretches to 6,829 yards from the championship tees. LBV is a tough challenge to many, as native foliage looms close to the narrow fairways. The course is somewhat more forgiving from the middle and forward tees which measure 6,268 and 5,176 yards, respectively. The Lake Buena Vista course is located near Downtown Disney and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.
A par-36 executive golf course, perfect for a quick nine, practice, or the beginning golfer.