Located in St. Cloud, FL, Royal St. Cloud is advertised as the “#1 Rated Links Course in Orlando”, Royal St Cloud offered The Golfing Dad’s a chance to play this golf course.  For those who know nothing about Royal St Cloud, this golf course has 3 separate and unique 9 holes set up in links style golf. One 9 holes is British design, one 9 Scottish design, and one 9 Irish design. Chip Powell designed the course. Located minutes from the Orlando attractions, this course will offer even the best players some challenges. Of a historical note, Royal St Cloud hosted the 2004 British Junior Amateur championship.

On arriving at the, we had to carry our bag to the club house, the walk was short as the main parking lot is small. An auxiliary parking lot is across the street and adjacent to one of the 9 hole courses. Staff in the club house was professional and courteous. Restrooms and Locker rooms were clean. Employees around the starters shack were efficient and polite. Maintenance staff around the course stopped working when we hit our shots. There were cart women driving around the course offering drinks or snacks. Throughout the course, there were numerous “Comfort Stations” with bathrooms and cold water in jugs. Interestingly, the bathrooms has no sinks but did have a small sitting bench. These stations also offered players a chance for cover in the case of storms. Food wise, there is sufficient staff that offer excellent service. While we didn’t notice any Rangers, play moved along well. We noticed all staff members Thanked us for playing the course.

Royal St Cloud offers players a chance to practice all aspects of their game at one location. There is a large driving range for players to warm up. Part of the driving range is devoted to lessons and member usage. One such area is located on the far end of the driving range opposite the parking lot. From all appearances, teeing areas are moved around frequently to prevent wear and tear. It is our understanding the driving range is lighted so a player can practice at night. Golf balls are okay. There are appropriate markers on the range to signify yardage that allows a player to learn their distances during warm up. On the opposite side of the club house, Royal St Cloud has set up a large chipping and bunker practice area. From our observation, this area was well maintained and the bunker had no grass or weeds. The main practice putting green is nice size and offers a flat surface to practice. Texture on the putting green is consistent with the greens on the courses. All in all, a great introduction to practicing or playing.

Play any of the 3 nine holes and a player won’t be disappointed. Royal St Cloud offers 5 sets of tees on each course. Generally, fairways are wide and, in some cases, rolling. For the most part, lies in the fairways were flat. We didn’t have to roll the ball to get a good lie because the fairways were well maintained. From some tee boxes, the shot looks intimidating but don’t be concerned as there’s plenty of landing room. If there were yardage markings in the fairway or on the sprinkler heads, we didn’t see them. Royal St Cloud does have a lot of bunkers with the famous “Church Pew bunkers” located on Hole 6 of the Blue Course.

As far as notable holes, each 9 has several. On the Red Course, Hole 2 (Hidden Green) is a par 5 that requires a good tee shot. The 2nd shot requires a player to trust their swing in order to place the ball in a strategic location. This will allow a 3rd shot into an undulated green. Hole 3 is called El Diablo and the name fits the hole. Even with a good tee shot, a player is faced with a long 2nd shot to an very undulated green. In some instances, the pin can be at the top of a hill and any downhill putt might roll off the green. If an uphill putt is not struck with authority, the ball can roll back down to the player. Hole 7 (Mouse Trap) is a risk/reward hole. Longer hitters could probably go for the green off the tee. Be forewarned however- any errant shot can be lost in marsh on the left or water on the right. The green is long (front to back) and well guarded by bunkers on the right side.

The White Course Hole 2 is called Desperate Journey. After a good tee shot, the player is faced with a fairly long shot into what looks like a tiny green. The green is slightly mounded on the side so balls will not roll onto the green. While on the shorter side, Hole 5 (Brent’s Bridge) requires a player to hit a tee shot short of the creek that cross in front of the green. The green is long front to back and any short shots will necessitate an uphill chip or putt. Hole 8, or Hell, is a nice straight hole that needs to be played from the fairway. With a mounded green area, a player needs to be in the proper position to secure a good score.

Finally, the Blue Course Hole 2 (Gauntlet of Palms) is straight  and has a somewhat of a false front.   The front of the green and hides the front to back slope of the green. Next, Hole 5 is called Oliver’s Fields and is a good golf hole. The tee shot must be straight and in the middle of the fairway. Once this task is accomplished, a player is faced with a 2nd shot into the Par 4 with bunkers guarding the left front of the green. Even a good shot could roll off to the left of the green and require a player to hit an uphill pitch to an undulated green. Finally, Hole 7 offers players a view of the Church Pews on the right hand side of the fairway. But don’t be fooled think a shot to the left is safe. There are several “pot” bunkers, two of which can’t be seen from the tee, looking to gobble up tee shots. If a tee shot does find the middle of the fairway, then a player is rewarded with a straight shot into a large green.

Tee boxes were in good shap. We saw maybe 1 tee box we felt was poor. The maintenace staff does a good job moving tee markers around to prevent excessive wear in any one spot. Fairways were lined with pampas and brush that offered a nice framing of many holes. For the most part, however, hazards don’t come into play if a shot was hit onto the fairway or green. We did see a few wood walled bunkers but, generally, they were not in play. Green quality was excellent. They were consistent whether playing the number 1 or 18 handicapped holes. Speed was good. A few greens looked a little “tired” but these were few and far between. Green were well undulated and not the traditional flat greens seen on many Florida courses. Water does border 11 holes but we didn’t feel they affected a players shot.

Dad’s Say So, play this course whenever and as often as you can. Value wise, it is one of the best, if not the best, in Central Florida. This is based on price versus quality of the course being played and course conditions. For more information or to sign up to play Royal St Cloud, visit their website www.royalstcloud.com. It’s a day of golf you won’t regret!

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