During this time of year, a lot of individuals are in the Orlando, Florida area on golf vacations. Everyone thinks of Disney, Universal and so on when talking about Orlando. Due to these theme parks, the area is a very service oriented city. One of the best things, is the quantity and quality of places to eat in the area. Guys in town on golf vacations are always looking for good places to eat. Here are a few areas that I would concentrate on when looking for things to do and great places to eat.
First and foremost is the Sand Lake Road/ Dr. Phillips area. This area has everything from great cigar bars (Corona’s) to high end restaurants (Ruth’s Chris). The Sand Lake road area, has probably 20 plus restaurants and bars, all with a mile or so of each other.
The next very popular area is the International Drive area. This area does see a lot of tourists, but also has plenty of things to do from miniature golf, comedy shows, to even mystery dinner shows. My favorite part of International drive is called Pointe Orlando. This area has a couple of clubs along with some great restaurants – Capital Grille and Tommy Bahamas.
Downtown Orlando also has an area called Church Street Station. This is a couple of blocks of bars and nightclubs, but at least 20+ minutes from the SW Orlando area, where most golfers stay. A little closer is the Millenia Mall area, which has some very good chain restaurants, but the popular place is the Blue Martini – great place for the guys to go and enjoy the sites.
Orlando is not known for having numerous Gentleman Clubs, like Tampa does, but Rachel’s is a nice place and has a very good steakhouse on site.
I’ve obviously only touched on a few certain areas, but you need to talk to your golf vacation specialist. We live in the area we sell and have traveled most of the state we live in.
I thought I would take a different approach to the typical “Top Ten” list…
Top 5 Stay & Play Resorts:
This resort is located in North Myrtle Beach and has four fantastic courses on site: The Love, Fazio, Norman, and Dye. There are Villas overlooking the courses and Towers overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway. The lodging varies from 1-4 bedrooms and are all designed to accommodate golfers. This area has a great nightlife, including the House of Blues if you want to catch a great concert!
Legends Resort is located in Central Myrtle Beach, and is close to everything. They have 3 great courses on site: Heathland, Parkland, and Moorland. The resort has a Scottish theme with 1-3 bedroom villas.
They have 2 great courses on site: Pinehills & Palmetto. There are nicely appointed 1-3 bedroom villas close to Broadway @ The Beach. Pinelakes’ “The Grandaddy” is the oldest course down here, and is just accross the street.
Sea Trail has 3 great courses on site: The Jones, The Byrd, and The Maples. The resort has 1-4 bedroom villas. It is located in the quaint town of Sunset Beach, NC which is only 30 minutes from North Myrtle Beach.
5. True Blue Resort
This resort is located at True Blue golf course. Caledonia (my favorite) and Heritage golf courses are right across from the resort in Pawleys Island. This is a quieter side of town, but it’s close to Murrels Inlet which is the seafood capitol. There are a lot of great restaurants and bars on the waterfront.
I want to start off with WOW! This is truly my # 1 Favorite Eatery. The atmosphere, the food, and the view are outstanding; 4 star all the way!
This restaruant is real Italian all the way. Even the pasta noodles are homemade. I have had the best Italian food here, and being from New York, I guess you could say that I am a snob when it comes to Italian food. Save room for the Cannolis, they are yummy!
This Cafe has a very artsy atmosphere. It is decorated with paintings from local artists which are also for sale. The food and service are excellent. It is a true dining experience.
If you love steak, this is the place for you. A nice atmosphere, an extensive wine list, and great service make this restaurant excellent. Hint: try the Coffee Ground Encrusted Filet; it will knock your socks off!!
Ok, so far I have basically talked about fine dining. Well, if your in the mood for a burger and a beer, then this is the spot. Hamburger Joes is a favorite for golfers to kick back and enjoy. They have the best burgers on the Beach, and $1.00 drafts all day long. Dollar Bills cover the walls with patrons notes on them; mine is right by the front door. Say hi to Alan the manager, and tell him Linda sent you.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando has been voted “North American Golf Destination of the Year 2010” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), it was announced in Malaga, Spain at the annual international awards ceremony for the golf tourism industry. The event was widely covered by print, online and broadcast media including CNN International, ESPN Star Sports Asia and the Golf Channel.
IAGTO Chief Executive Officer Peter Walton said, “This is outstanding recognition for an aspect of the Orlando experience that is outside of its world-renowned theme parks. This award acknowledges not only the quality of the golf offerings in Orlando but the service provided to golfers and tour operators worldwide. With this award, our members recognize that Orlando has achieved a winning combination for golfers worldwide.”
“Orlando is well-known for its theme park thrills off the course – it’s very exciting to see that we are now becoming known for our thrills on the course,” said Gary C. Sain, president and CEO of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. “With 177 golf courses providing every type and level of golf experience, we like to say that Orlando is golf’s ultimate theme park. We are honored to have this prestigious award from IAGTO and the acknowledgment from its members for the efforts we have put in to developing our vast golf offerings from our award-winning golf courses, to our top golf instructors and the acclaimed professional events we host every year. ”
The selection for winning destinations is made through votes cast by over 300 golf tour operators from 50 countries who consider customer satisfaction; quality of golf courses and accommodation; value for money; support from suppliers, tourist boards and airlines; professional conduct of suppliers; and accessibility to tee times. North American finalist destinations nominated for the award included Hawaii, Miami, Fla. and Palm Beach Fla.
If you have a group of 6-12 golfers and are planning a golf trip to Scottsdale this year, stay somewhere truly memorable in one of our three Ultimate Private Golf Homes in Fountain Hills, just east of Scottsdale. They are different than any private homes you’ve ever stayed in on a golf trip. Period.
We opened our first home, The Estate, four years ago, and it became so popular that our owners have since purchased and Lori and I outfitted two more – The Oasis, and most recently, The Clubhouse. These homes were purchased and designed with certain things in mind – give larger groups of golfers something luxurious, convenient, affordable, and loaded with the amenities or “goodies” that make a golf trip a spectacular event.
All three properties will sleep up to 12 individual golfers and are loaded with the goodies that make it the perfect spot for a group event. Here are a few features that make each home the perfect venue:
- 12 individual beds (who wants to sleep on a pull-out sofabed?)
- Private Pools
- Private Jacuzzis
- Big-Screen TVs
- Pool Tables
- Poker Tables
- Ping Pong Tables
- Lighted putting greens at Oasis and Clubhouse
- Fully stocked kitchens with all cooking utensils and linens
- Wireless Internet at no charge
The Estate is a Five-bedroom, Two-story home just off Shea Blvd. and is the most “open” floor plan of the three. Upstairs is the kitchen, living room with a 52″ big screen TV, poker room, and Two bedrooms, but you’ll spend most of your time on the elevated back deck, which is literally built into the side of a mountain, with a huge desert wash behind. The dramatic desert views off the large back deck is the signature feature of The Estate. The back patio – complete with a propane grill – is the perfect spot for grilling steaks, having a cocktail, and puffing a cigar. The pool has a waterfall, and it’s great to sit in the jacuzzi overlooking the desert wash. Downstairs you have another 50″ big-screen TV just off the pool table room plus three more bedrooms. This home is unique in that it has two separate garages, so we put a Ping Pong table in the downstairs garage leading out to the pool and jacuzzi.
The Oasis is a six-bedroom, two-story home just off Shea and Saguro and is the largest property of the three. Also, two of the three bedrooms upstairs are configured with one bed only, so if you have snorers, you can lock them away in their own rooms. The best feature of The Oasis is the backyard. It has a huge pool, an observation deck with table and chairs over the jacuzzi, which is perfect for cards, cigars, etc, as well as a brand-new 900 square foot putting green, horseshoe pit, and basketball court. The Oasis sports a 52″ big-screen TV in the living room as well as smaller TVs all throughout the house. The pool table room is huge, with both a professional pool table and poker table in the corner. The Ping Pong table on the back patio poolside make this the best backyard of the three properties.
The Clubhouse is the newest of Golf Zoo’s trio. It overlooks the par-four 10th fairway at Desert Canyon, so don’t be surprised to find a couple Pro-V1s at the bottom of the pool. Its unique feature is that it has golf course views from both the back yard and the elevated deck on the front of the house. The Clubhouse sports a few upgrades over The Estate and The Oasis in that there are high definition plasma TVs mounted in the living room and poker room, along with picnic tables, a private jacuzzi (you can sit in the jacuzzi and heckle the the golfers on #10), as well as the putting green all right there poolside. There is a good picture of the back yard looking out over the 10th fairway on a recent special we sent out. It’s got a huge tandem four-car garage, so naturally we set up a Ping Pong table and a dart board. Many of my clients have said more money changed hands in the Ping Pong tournament than did on the 18th green…
Ready for something completely different? Let the games begin…
Here is the follow up to my first post on Winter Golf Packages in Florida. I will mention more details on resorts and courses in the different areas
This is the best and biggest bang for your buck, when planning winter golf packages. As I mentioned earlier, the lodging (Villa’s, Condo’s and Homes) is inexpensive. Here are a couple of my recommendations for lodging choices – Magical Memories and Orlando Estates, both on our website. Next level choices would be Grand Beach Resort and Sheraton Vistana Villa’s and Vistana Resort. Finally the high end resorts with Villa’s and lodging on site – Reunion Resort (villa’s and homes), Grand Cypress (villa’s), Champions Gate (hotel rooms and villa’s) and Orange County National (hotel rooms). Reunion Resort is the only one of these resorts that require you to stay on property in order to play there.
Here are my thoughts and recommendations of the courses:
Multiple course facilities:
Disney – 72 holes. Palm/Magnolia (PGA Tour event), out of same club house. Lake Buena Vista and Osprey Ridge have their own clubhouse.
Reunion Resort – 54 holes, upscale (Palmer, Watson and Nicklaus design)
Grand Cypress – 45 holes, upscale (Nicklaus design)
Champions Gate – 36 holes, upscale (Greg Norman design)
Orange County National – 36 holes, upscale (PGA Tour final stage of qualifying school)
Orange Lake Resort – 36 holes, less expensive (Legends course designed by Arnold Palmer).
Mission Inn – 36 holes, less expensive (30 minutes north of Orlando, lodging on site)
Stonegate at Solivita – 36 holes, less expensive
Other top end courses:
Bella Collina, 50 million $ clubhouse, Nick Faldo design
Shingle Creek – Close to airport
Harmony Golf Preserve – Great bang for buck, little bit of a drive
Southern Dunes – Rated high in state of Florida
Eagle Creek – Close to airport
Sugarloaf Mtn. – Not typical Florida course, elevation changes
Victoria Hills – Great bang for buck, 1 hour drive
Providence GC – Well priced
Next level courses:
To keep from having too long of a post, I will limit each one to a specific area in Florida. In the meantime, please feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org or call me with any questions or help – 888.333.6103.
Planning a trip to Scottsdale this winter? Here is my opinion on the best 10 choices when it comes to golf here in the Valley of the Sun. I chose my Top Ten based on these (what I consider to be the most important) factors:
- Gold Canyon – Dinosaur Mountain - still my all-time favorite. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale, but well worth it. The dramatic elevation changes, fantastic scenery, and interesting layout make this the best spot in Arizona.
- The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain - Probably the best staff and friendliest environment in all of Scottsdale – I’m also a Scott Miller fan – lots of elevation changes, and bowl-shaped fairways where a hack like me will get a few forgiving bounces now and then.
- SunRidge Canyon Golf Club - Somewhat brutal at times, but one of the more interesting hole-by-hole tracks. Also has the best 3 finishing holes in Arizona – three-shot par 5, then a ridiculous par 3 over the canyon shot of 220 that you’re supposed to STOP on a dime. Yeah right. #18 is a wicked dog leg left par 4 up the hill to finish out one of the tougher back nines in Arizona. “We made it! I need a cocktail stat!”
- We-Ko-Pa Golf Club – Cholla Course - Another Scott Miller gem. You definitely have to think your way around this course, and Cholla (and Saguro) are very unique in that they’re built on an Indian reservation, so there are ZERO HOMES anywhere on the golf course. Makes for scenery that’s tough to beat. Only drawback is that it is typically cart path only, so be prepared to do some walking. It’s worth it.
- Grayhawk Golf Club – Talon Course - The Raptor course is where they host the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open, but I have always preferred the tamer sister course, Talon. It’s a little more forgiving off the tee, and #17 is an island par 3 – kind of a “Mini 17th at Sawgrass” – great hole for gambling. (It’s only a 9 iron, or a big wedge…) Also, Phil’s Grill is one of my all time favorite places to enjoy a couple dozen cocktails after Grayhawk whips me into submission.
- TPC Stadium Course - Home to the PGA Tour’s FBR Open. Yeah sure, I agree that by itself the golf course is a little overrated, but what can I say – it’s fun to play where the pros play, and after watching the tournament on TV, you’ll want to get it in. The last 4 holes are the reason you pay what you do, ($250+ in peak season) and they are as fun to play as they are to watch. Service in all aspects is exceptional, and the restaurant is one of the best in Arizona to have a nice breakfast.
- Troon North – Pinnacle Course - The atmosphere in the clubhouse is a little stuffy, but I play this one at least once a year for one reason – the greens are the best in Arizona. Both Troon courses (Pinnacle and Monument) are extremely difficult for me, but the putting surfaces are simply perfect in the winter – fast and brutal. Lots of fun, and a few 3 or 4 puts along the way…
- Rancho Manana Golf Club - This one is more my speed. I can play Rancho from the tips, and rarely have anything more than a 7 iron in on the par 4s. But don’t be fooled by the relatively short length. This one is tricky. Rancho is just north of Scottsdale, in Cave Creek, where it’s very mountainous, and I’m simply an elevation change junkie. One of the more scenic courses, and the Tonto grill would be in my all time Top 5 restaurants. Great staff – very laid back.
- Ocotillo Golf Club – Ocotillo cracked into my Top Ten this year, replacing The Raven at South Mountain. Although I still love the Raven, for something a little different, and a more traditional feel, Ocotillo is my new favorite. With 3 distinct 9’s, great conditions, and maybe the best spot in Arizona to have lunch after your round, you can’t go wrong. Another advantage (or disadvantage) is that there is a lot of water which sets in apart from most of the dry, desert layouts here. The staff is laid back and friendly, and make time for lunch afterwards. Sit outside on the patio, listen to the waterfalls, and enjoy.
- The Arizona Grand Golf Club - Formerly known as “Phantom Horse,” Arizona Grand gives you a little of everything. Some traditional holes, and some great target golf as well. It’s been under renovation all summer and promises to be one of the valley’s newest “up and comers.” Have dinner and drinks at Rustler’s Rooste just up the hill after your round. The finishing hole is a par 3 which you don’t see often, and what a par 3 it is. 180 yards from the middle tees, but only requires an 8 iron for me because of the dramatic elevation drop. This is also good for day in / day out golf, as it’s a quick 10 minutes from the airport.