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Played Arroyo Trabuco Friday afternoon, on 6/10. We had virtually no wind, which I think is abnormal for this course and it made the course play much easier than normal.

Conditions here were a little disappointing, had I read the last few reviews I probably would have had better expectations. In any case, the biggest issue I had here were the greens. The greens were in really poor condition. I don't think they had been cut so they were really long, slow, and bumpy. There was damage around the edges of the greens and I must have fixed 50 ball marks. It was just a little disappointing because the rest of the course was in decent condition.

As far as the course routing and playability goes. Arroyo is really fun. Yes, there's ALOT of natural areas where you can take penalty strokes, but the landing areas are large and allow for golfers of all levels to have some fun. It's not the most difficult course (remember there was no wind today), but does allow you to be aggressive.

Final verdict, It was a bummer the greens were the way they were. I'd come back but i'd wait until I see some better reviews.
Finished my Annual Central Florida Buddy trip at Celebration on 5/18. This marked the last of 144 holes of golf over a 5 day period and somehow all of us made it through! Being that it was our last round, we played a mixed set of tees, moving up 1 tee box every hole just to keep it interesting. While that was fun, it turned a few of the par 4's into par 3's so we really didn't play the course as it was designed to be played. That being said, I highly recommend you try that some day, it's kinda fun to have a few driveable par 4's or pretend I'm Jason Day and have a 9 iron into a par 5. Anyways, on to the review.

This is a great course if you're heading to/from the airport. It's only 10 minutes away, and they cater to that crowd. Complimentary use of the member's locker room made it easy for me to clean up after the round, take a shower, shave, and just feel refreshed prior to getting on a plane. The clubhouse even offered to get me a cab (which I didn't need), so that was a nice touch.

The range here is pretty cool and unique. They use floating golf balls and you hit into a lake. We spent a fair amount of time just trying to hit the floating island greens and it was kinda fun. Just don't think you'll get your distances locked in, because the greens move!

From a design and playablity perspective, it looks the course was designed with seniors and women in mind . Which I'm not saying is good or bad, just there's not many forced carries, most greens allow for a "bump and run" type play and there are multiple sets of tees that move the course from 7000 all the way to 2400. Quick note on the tee boxes, the colors here are NOT traditional. White tees are the ladies tees, so be sure to check the yardage & slope before you tee off.

Conditions today were pretty good considering the whole area got absolutely drenched the night before. Most fairways were either soft or had standing water, but we expected that as they got upwards of 4-6inches of rain the previous night. However, that did make everything not quite as pristine. Because it was so wet, nothing had been cut, so the greens were a little slow, fairways a little long, and the course just generally sloppy. I wish we had the chance to play under better conditions, but overall I think the course handled it well. Maintenance crews were pumping water out of bunkers and doing their best to clean it up.

Final verdict, I'd like to play it again from a normal set of tees and not after a monsoon, because I think I really enjoyed the course. It's not all that difficult but there's enough hazards to get you thinking.
Played Panther Lake on Tuesday PM 5/17. I'll spare you my gushing, perhaps minor hyperbolic review of the facilities and value of the course, see my Crooked Cat review for that! I will say the customer service at OC National is always top notch. We played as a 3some in the afternoon and were scheduled for a 2:30 replay. After our morning round we had lunch and during lunch Nick from the pro shop found me and said there's a chance of bad weather and if we are able to tee off at 1:45, we can get in front of 2 foursomes and have a better chance of finishing the round, rain free. That was awesome recognition by Nick and it turned out perfect. The rain started coming down as we were putting on 18, and escaped nearly unscathed.

Panther Lake is not extraordinarily different than Crooked Cat. The scorecard shows it to be a tad shorter, but it'll play longer. Most of the par 4's are longish and require you to move the ball in different directions, but nearly all the par 5's have a risk/reward element and all can be reached in 2 shots (if you're brave enough). Great collection of par 3's here that will require you to hit 4 different shots with 4 different irons. For example, #4 demands a right-left ball flight with a mid iron, #8 should be played with a left-right, #11 is a 200+ beast over a hazard, and #17 is a wedge to a large green with 3 distinct tiers. Just really good variety.

Definitely recommend both Orange County courses, I don't think I have a favorite although I played better at Crooked Cat, so.... :). Both courses are challenging but fair. A decent ball striker won't lose many balls here, but at the same time there's plenty of trouble. Can't wait to get back here next year.
Played Crooked Cat on Tuesday 5/17, this marked the 6th round in 4 days (we played Panther Lake in the PM for round #7) and surprisingly my golf keeps getting better despite not being able to feel my hands. Here's the really brief review. This course is downright awesome and an incredible value ($110 for 36, including lunch & drink vouchers). I will say outside of Streamsong, Bay Hill, and Reunion this is THE premier facility in Orlando (at 1/2 the cost). Both courses here are far superior to anything Disney offers, more playable than ChampionsGate, and more challenging than Grand Cypress.

Crooked Cat is pure Florida golf. Subtle elevation changes, great use of water, holes tend to be framed by big, bold bunkering, and large, undulating bermuda greens that require you read the grain. On a side note, I miss grain. I'm such a better putter in Florida than I am in Southern California. Guess it's just what you're used to. Anyways, the course blends a good mix of holes that allow you to chose different strategies off the tee. However, the course doesn't exactly favor one strategy or another. For example, in my group, one guy is a bomber, routinely hitting it 280ish while I'm more of a target golfer, preferring to play from 30 yards back in the fairway. We're both single digit handicappers, but rarely do we play well at the same course. However, we both scored really well here, playing 2 totally different games.

The only down side here is every Monday morning they sand the greens to smooth them out. While that really didn't have a major effect on the ball, like I said before, you need to be able to read the grain to putt well on bermuda, and that's hard to do with sanded greens. But they did roll OK and you just had to get over the fact that they looked different. Everywhere else on the course was nearly immaculate. Fairways were lush and tight. The rough was thick but playable. Bunkers were very consistent and "easy" to play from.

Service here is always top notch. We saw the beverage cart 4 or 5 times and she'd even let us know how fast/slow the play was in front of us (it wasn't busy, POP was right at 4 hours). The driving range here is AWESOME. It's billed as the largest facility in the US and it's easy to see why. It's a 360 degree range with probably 15 or so target greens. There are at least 3 different short game areas including what can only be described as 'mid range" area. We sat here and practiced 60 yard pitches pitches into a green from varying lies (fairway, rough, sand). Pretty cool for a range junkie.

All in all, there's not a better value in Orlando than OC National. Again, $110 for 36 holes with lunch and a beer? Pure. Awesome. Golf.
Played the North/South course on Monday AM, 5/16. This was round 4 of 8 for the week. I'd classify Grand Cypress as a "near premium" golf facility. It's not quite the Waldorf Astoria or Bay Hill but it's not far off. The customer service is very good, always polite and trying to accommodate all requests.

The practice facilities here are a little lacking for Central Florida. The driving range was Mats Only today, which for a high line Florida golf course is simply not acceptable. Unlike SoCal, space and grass here is not a problem. It looked like every Monday they hit from the mats, so that was a bummer.

The course itself is what I call "resort golfer friendly." Big wide fairways, few trees, smooth fast greens. It's really typical Florida Golf, with the main deterrents being a water hazard on just about every hole and big, bold bunkering framing each landing area. If you're on your game here, you'll shoot really low scores, but small mistakes will add up quickly. The "South" nine's main defense is it's greens. Almost every green on that side has 2 or 3 tiers and if you're on the wrong tier a 3 putt will await.

Conditions here are great. Greens were in near perfect condition, fairways look perfect, rough is fair, and the bunkers are consistent throughout the facility. Biggest complaint here was the POP, which was just under 5 hours. We didn't expect that on a Monday morning on a course that sports 45 holes. We figured it'd be a bit more spread out, but rather we were waiting on just about every shot.

Final Verdict - North/South is a good, fun layout. Not sure it'd be my first choice, I know I'd definetely choose the New Course over this one but it's still a great value.
Hit Rolling Oaks on Sunday PM (5/15) after a morning round at Pine Barren's, this marked holes 37-54 in our 144 hole barrage of Central Florida this week. For a more descriptive analysis of the facilities and customer experience look at my PB post, but basically this place is pure golf, plain and simple.

Rolling Oaks was designed with Augusta National in mind and you can definetly see the tendencies throughout the course. Typically large open fairways, with elevated, mulit-tiered greens that require precise iron shots. Most tee boxes make you consider what club to hit and while you're never penalized for crushing a tee shot down the middle, you're often in better position if you are 30 yards back on with a better angle to the green. This course is all about the fun. Unless you're 80 yards sideways, you won't lose a ball here but you'll definitely be hitting from the trees.

The Green complexes are large and wildly undulating, give you lots of different options on how to play the shot. Want to play a bump and run from 80 yards out? No problem. Greens here aren't Augusta speed, but they are medium fast and very smooth and true. Tee boxes are flat and are tightly cut. Fairways were very firm and fast despite some light rain in the afternoon.

Final verdict? I love these courses and my marriage is probably better off that I live 3000 miles away and only play them once a year because if I lived within driving distance, I'd be here all the time.
Hit Pine Barrens on Saturday AM, at 8:30am, round 2 of 8 on my annual guys golf trip. We absolutely LOVE this course. I've played all over Central and south florida and this may be the best course within 100 miles of Orlando. The course is modeled after Pine Valley (I guess that's true), but there are significant elevation changes, big undulating greens, penal bunkers (i'll get to those in a minute) and strategy needed on every single hole. You won't lose many balls on this course, but that doesn't mean it's "wide open." Pine trees line most fairways and the bunkers, which are played as waste bunkers and are reminiscent of Whistling Straits or other Lake Michigan courses, are extremely difficult to hit out of.

The Greens are in faboulous condition. Smooth, fast, and very true. Makes it really easy to putt on and gives you confidence to make that 6 footer. Fairways are better than greens on some courses. You won't get a bad lie, anywhere. The bunkers are a little different. They are all played as waste bunkers and the sand is seriously soft and unforgiving. That makes them very, very penal and virtually impossible to expect clean contact on any sand shot. Because they weren't traditional bunkers, it was hard to rate them, but they were consistent throughout the course.

Facilities here are very bare bones. The day we played the restrooms in the clubhouse were out of order so they brought in portalets and it really detracted from the experience. The guys in the proshop were nice enough and the starter was very helpful.

Overall highly recommend both World Woods courses. I enjoyed Pine Barrens a bit more than Rolling Oaks, but you won't go wrong with either. Oh, and for the $80 36 hole rate, you can't beat it.
Played Tranquilo on Saturday 5/13 with a 2pm tee time. This kicked off an 8 round barrage over the following 4 days (you'll see reviews on each one!) which saw 12 guys play 144 holes of golf from Saturday afternoon to Wednesday.

We were all very excited about Tranquilo, it got great reviews on Golf WRX and even the Golf Channel had a very good review on it. I played it as Disney's Osprey Ridge years ago, but it's no longer a Disney course and the routing is significantly different. Fazio re-designed the last 5 holes (largely because a hotel is now on where #18 used to be) and empty lots dot many of the fairways.

First the conditions. Conditions here are very good, but in May in Orlando you expect every course to be in nearly immaculate condition, so take that with a grain of salt. Greens here were smooth, medium fast, held approach shots nicely and were generally very playable. Tee boxes were flat, but a little shaggy. Fairways were lush but you'd want them to be a cut a little tighter.

The course design is typical Fazio. Big, bold bunkering, big greens and generous landing areas. You won't lose many balls out here but if you're out of position it'll be tough to make par.

Service here is fantastic. Red carpet service all the way around. Bad attendant meets you at your car in the parking lot and escorts you to the proshop, locker room, and directs you to the range and 1st tee. Very enjoyable experience.

The only downside here is the price. Rack rate is $175 in the AM and $115 for the twilight. For those prices in Orlando you can get Bay Hill, Reunion, or Streamsong. And while Tranquilo is nice, it's NOT Streamsong, not even close. Just because it's got the "Four Seasons" name on it doesn't make it a great value. The probably need to re-align with the Disney course prices, which are $50 less and virtually the same courses.
Played on Wednesday, 4/27 in my GK Cup Match with @salbarajasjr under bright sunny skies and a slight breeze. Before I get into the conditions, I will say the customer service here at Aviara is absolutely world class. Not only did they work to get us teed off 20 minutes early, John in the Pro Shop tracked us down on the 2nd tee box and informed me that he overcharged my credit card. Not sure many courses would do that. Not only did they figure it out a full hour after I checked in, but then come out to the course and be 100% honest, that was refreshing.

Ok, onto the course. Aviara is a world class golf course. Conditions here are nearly immaculate and they work hard to make you a "member for the day." It does look like they punched the greens about 3 weeks ago and had a light topdressing, but on all but 2 greens it's fully healed and in very good conditions. Greens are lightning quick and ball placement on approach shots are very important. Fairways are near perfect, and the rough is cut at about 1.5 inches but super, super thick and is tough to gauge out from.

The course layout is best described as beautiful. Gardens are everywhere (and in play) and there are at least 8 different "signature holes." The course isn't terribly difficult, it's built to be forgiving off the tee, large, receptive greens, but tough greens to putt protect the course. This is an Arnold Palmer design and as such he places a premium on strategy over brute force (which is ironic considering how AP liked to play). Most tee shots offer a big benefit to a perfectly placed drive but also punish you if you misfire.

Yes Aviara is a premium price but it's an elite course, and one of my favorite courses in Southern California. Can't wait to come back.
Played Talega on 4/16 with a 9:44 tee time. I read bstoc99's post regarding the same day and I had a totally different experience. POP for our group was right at 4.5 hours, which I felt was pretty good for a Saturday mid morning tee time. Before i get to the conditions, the facilities here are top notch except for the driving range. The range is pretty small, mats only and really far away from the clubhouse. They did shuttle us back and forth, but the range didn't match the rest of the course.

Fairways, tee boxes, bunkers and the rough were in excellent condition. Fairways are nearly perfect throughout the course and really give you a chance to score well. Bunkers are consistent and very easy to play out of. The only issue from a condition standpoint are the greens. Talega is transitioning from Rye to Bermuda and the bermuda hasn't fully come in yet on all the greens. While this is an inconvenience, it really didn't affect play too much and the course posted signs everywhere explaining what they are doing. Also the pro shop let me know when I made the tee time so we knew what the issues were. All that being said, I never felt as though the greens were a detriment to the course. I'd say roughly half the greens are fully healed, and the other have are about 75% of the way there.

The layout of Talega is pretty average. My only major complaint is every par 5 is laid out nearly identical with a hazard running down the right side and 3 of the par 3's played the same distance today (175) so that was a bit disappointing. However, I think the scorecard has some variation and it's just the way it was set up today.

The course isn't very difficult unless the wind blows, but when it does, scores can balloon quickly. It's not target golf, but accuracy is rewarded. Overall I'd give Talega a solid "B", conditions are very good (greens still healing but not bad). As far as OC courses go, it's on par with Strawberry Farms, and Oak Creek for about the same price.
Played Green River on 4/13 with t8fish, completing our GK Cup match. Great weather with a steady breeze and mid 70's made fore a terrific day (see what I did there). The course is healing nicely from the aeration a few weeks ago with the greens about 90% back to normal. The course looks like they've let the greens grown a few millimeters longer to help speed up recovery so putts were a little slower than you'd want, but they were very consistent and for the most part very smooth. Fairways out here are in great shape. I never had a bad lie and didn't see many divots anywhere. The rough still needs some work, it's quite thin and patchy in places. Especially around the greens, it's a bit inconsistent, you'll get some spots where it's super thick and you'll find other spots where you're hitting off hard pan. Overall, for the value you can't complain.

The course set up is very fair but not all that difficult. It's a shorter layout that relies on strong winds to defend the course (15-20mph+ winds are pretty typical here). Most holes give you options off the tee that reward great shots with good birdie opportunities, but at the same time it's possible to recover from poor positions. Outside of 2 or 3 holes, there's not much elevation change (but those 3 holes have BIG changes), making the course very "gettable."

In conclusion, Green River is a great value course. It's not premium, you're not going to get perfect lies everywhere and you won't be "wowed" by the course design, but for $34, there's hardly a better value this close to Orange County.
Played San Juan on Saturday, 3/19 at 9:20am in an outing. I was little hesitant to play as my last experience here was not good, but I went in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised. Course is in generally good shape but far from pristine.

The facilities here are average for Orange County. The driving range utilizes some non-traditional targets that are pretty cool (like field goal posts and trash cans) but is mats only and those mats need replacement. The chipping area is also quite large with a practice bunker, but I don't think any maintenance has been done to that area in weeks, so it really wasn't useful.

Course conditions are pretty average. Greens here are a very comfortable speed, medium to medium fast. You can be aggressive with your stroke with little fear of the ball running out on you. They are also very smooth, in fact, they act MUCH better than they look. There's some kind of discoloration on most of the greens but it doesn't affect the ball at all. Fairways are thin with lots of bare areas, but nearly all the bare areas on the fairways are marked as GUR, so that was a huge plus. Bunkers are thin but very consistent so it was easy to adjust. Tee boxes are pretty typical for a lower end OC course. A bit thin, some spots were not level but nothing that would affect your play.

As far as course design, San Juan Hills can be described as "quirky." I wouldn't say this target golf, but isn't not wide open either. There are at least a 3 or four holes that are downright awful designs (#2, #6, #10,) but then there are 3 or 4 holes that are beautifully built (,#4,#5,#8, #15). The holes that I'm labeling as "bad" typically don't have enough room for a golf hole. For example, #6 is a downhill dogleg left par 5 that from the tips plays 560. However, due to the slope of the fairway, you can only hit your tee shot 220-230 yard before running into the trees. The green is positioned that anything right is trouble so you want to approach it from the right side of the fairway, however you can't get to the right side of the fairway due to the slope of hill and overhanging trees. Just not a real well designed hole. Dont' get me started on #10, that's got a 25 foot oak tree in the middle of the fairway. Enough said.

However, then the course gives you holes like a #15, which is a ridiculously difficult driving hole but allows for plenty of bail-out room to the right. Then you get 180-210 yards into a slightly elevated green over water (which isn't really in play, just looks visually intimidating). It's a great hole where my group made a 3,4,6 & 9. Also there's a stretch on the front nine where the tee shot makes you think a little, you can either fly a strategically placed bunker and leave yourself with a short iron, or lay back and have a more difficult approach.

Ok, so overall SJH is a nice course, it won't overly "wow" you but it's a good value and very adequate.
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