Growing the Game at Walt Disney World Golf, operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – While each of Disney’s championship-caliber golf courses receives accolades for design and playability, it is the year-round accessibility to all of the world-class amenities, service, and convenience that helps differentiate the Walt Disney WorldResort from any other golfing destination.
Golf has played an integral role at the resort since Disney’s Magic Kingdom opened its gates in 1971. However, after over 40 years of hosting professional tournaments and the sport’s biggest names, Walt Disney World’s focus has shifted to expanding golf’s reach. It now offers a superlative experience in stunningly beautiful surroundings for family vacations, industry gatherings, and business seminars.
Four unique courses, operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management (APGM), provide a golfer’s paradise at the Walt Disney World Resort. The layouts are challenging enough for elite players but also friendly enough to accommodate all skill levels at what has come to be known as “The Happiest Place on TURF!”
Given the diversity of the golf challenges and exceptional Walt Disney World Resort dining and entertainment options, it’s no wonder Golf Digest and the PGA of America have ranked Walt Disney World Golf among the top destinations for a family golf trip.
“We believe we have a social obligation to grow the game, especially from the perspective of junior golf, by showcasing diversity and inclusion into the sport,” said Bruce Gerlander, General Manager of Arnold Palmer Golf Management. “We are committed to being guest-centric – creating an all-encompassing experience that is uniquely Disney, while providing the opportunity to play where many champions were crowned.”
While work continues on redesigning Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, visitors at the Walt Disney World Resort have multiple world-class options to consider if they wish to play golf. Disney’s Palm and Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Courses are open, along with Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, a nine-hole walking layout.
Walt Disney World Golf recently opened a brand new 18-hole putting course. Rather than a large flat surface area for the practice green, the new layout has been graded to give the area new contours and elevation changes to provide a more realistic and challenging putting experience. The lush Bermuda grass surface will require the right combination of skill and luck as you navigate the course’s layout.
The first guests to try it were PGA TOUR winner Tony Finau and his son.
Additionally, driving ranges are open to the public, and there is the added attraction of FootGolf, a hybrid sport between soccer and golf, which has grown in popularity in recent years.
Disney goes out of its way to make vacations as convenient as possible with complimentary transportation to courses from select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and complimentary parking for golfers on their way to the courses. The resort experience is literally tailor-made for travelers. Golfers on the go can rent TaylorMade golf equipment (available for men and women in left- and right-handed sets) and Adidas golf shoes. Junior rental equipment is also available for a nominal fee.
The Four Walt Disney World Golf Resort Courses Operated by APGM
Disney’s Palm Golf Course
Picturesque natural beauty featuring shimmering lakes, majestic palm trees, and tropical sands make Disney’s Palm Golf Course a pleasure to play and a challenge to conquer. Tee options vary between 5,213 yards (red tees) and 6,870 yards (blue tees). The par-4 18th hole – which features a well-protected, elevated green – was always one of the most difficult on the PGA TOUR.
Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course
Designed in 1972 by Joe Lee, this course near Disney Springs winds through several of the resort properties, including Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort. The course, which plays between 5,177 and 6,745 yards, includes a par-3 seventh hole with an island green and a Mickey Mouse-inspired bunker that was added to the rear of the ninth green in 2018.
Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
A nine-hole walking course, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course is well-suited for families and casual golfers. This course, originally only six holes and known as “The Wee Course,” was expanded in the 1990s by Ron Garl, who designed the fifth, sixth, and seventh holes to feature water hazards around a canal and pond. The par-36 layout can be played from junior tees (1,713 yards) or close to 3,000 yards (including a 517-yard par-5) from the white tees.
Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course
Designed as a classic Tour style layout by Joe Lee, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course is the longest of the Walt Disney World Resort courses, playing at 7,560 yards from the Classic tees during tournaments, 7,141 yards from green tees and 6,684 from the white tees for daily play. The course, which features magnolia trees along the fairways and elevated tees, is undergoing its most extensive redesign ever prior to reopening to the public later this year. Holes 14 through 17 are being reimagined, and all 18 greens are being substantially enhanced.
Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course is currently open for the first 14 holes, and the greens fee rates are discounted accordingly.
A new fleet of premium Yamaha golf carts was introduced at Disney’s Palm, Magnolia, and Lake Buena Vista golf courses. Each cart has a cutting-edge touchscreen Yamatrack GPS system to provide overviews of every hole and yardage from the cart to the flagstick. These carts boast plush, cushioned seats and a suspension system to provide a comfortable ride, USB ports to power mobile devices, and Bluetooth speakers for the musically inclined to enjoy. Families can play and ride together as they interact with Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Pluto in Disney character-themed four-seater golf carts.
More state-of-the-art technology is available in the form of Robo-Caddies – a small, robotic golf cart that employs GPS and Bluetooth technology to transport your clubs safely and additional gear around Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. Golfers clip the cart’s small transmitter to their belt, load their golf bag, and focus on their next shot as the autonomous cart follows a few paces behind at a walking speed.
Walt Disney World Golf also features a fleet of SoloRider individual adaptive carts to help facilitate the pace of play and keep mobility-impaired golfers in the game.
For more information, please visit golfwdw.com
Photo Credit: Russell Kirk