Green is the new gold standard on Orlando golf course. (Photo: Getty Images)
In Orlando, dreams do come true. For kids, that usually means meeting their favorite fantasy character at a theme park. If you’re a golfer, you can fulfill your fantasy of a perfect game at one of the city’s top-notch, environmentally conscious golf courses. Eco-friendly courses are gentle on the environment, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy on golfers; you’ll find plenty of technical challenges on the “green” greens. Just make sure that’s your ball you’re about to hit, not an egg.
Avoid the Alligators: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Grande Lakes
This course at the headwaters of the Everglades honors its surroundings, with holes designed to follow the contours of the land, lakes and swamps dotted with native pines, palmettos and live oaks. Designed by Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, challenges include occasional alligators and man-made hazards. The course is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, and earned the title Sustainable Golf Course of the Year in 2014. Other titles attesting to the greatness of the golf, not the impact on the environment, include being named one of the “Top 100 Golf Resorts in North America,” “50 Best Courses for Women,” and GOLF Magazine’s “Silver Medal Resort.”
At the 19th hole: You’ll feel like a member of a private club when you take advantage of the putting green and driving range. Settle in for a round after your round at Fairways Pub. And check out one last award-winning element: The pro shop is on the list of “Top 100 Golf Shops in America.”
Don’t Let Hawks Distract You: Hawk’s Landing Golf Club
The resort name isn’t a fantasy: You may spot hawks landing in the trees as you make your way around the course at Hawk’s Landing. Designed by Robert Cupp III, the par-71 course earned a four-star rating from Golf Digest. Another certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, this course shelters native wildlife in sand pines (found almost exclusively in Florida) and native aquatic plants thrive in the course’s many water features.
At the 19th hole: If your swing needs improvement, go see Bill Madonna, one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Golf Instructors,” at the golf academy. Stop in the clubhouse to dine at the steakhouse, which maintains an award-winning wine list.