Winter Park’s golfing heritage date back to 1900 when John Dunn of Scotland designed the city’s first course. The current Winter Park Golf Course was built in 1914. It was designed by Harley Ward and Dow George. Both the course and clubhouse are listed on the National register of Historic Places. It is believed to be the 2nd oldest golf courses in Florida. The course was closed in November 2015 to allow for major renovations. Architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns were tasked with this project and the course was able to reopen on October 1, 2016.
Winter Park offers competitive rates. We were able to rent a pull cart, and with a bottle of water, our cost was $20. There were a few golf carts but most players appeared to walk the course. Attached to the pull cart was a bottle of sand to fix your divots with..
On arrival, the clubhouse looks small and it is. There’s barely enough room for the pro shop and restrooms. Staff in the pro shop were exceptionally nice. They were courteous and helpful. Members of the maintenance were friendly and stopped mowing when we prepared to hit a shot.
The course doesn’t have a driving range. As a result, there is no place to warm up before a round. The putting green near the club house is tiny. Adjacent to the 9th hole is another practice green. Originally set up as a croquet green, this large area was changed during the redesign to accommodate a putting and chipping area. From our perspective, this area is a terrific spot to practice.
This 9 hole course is located among the trees throughout Winter Park. Virtually all the fairways are tree lined and offer generous landing areas. The greens are fairly large. Overall, the course is flat with subtle undulations in both fairways and greens. From the Black tees, the course measures 2,480 yards. Blue tees are 2,309 yards and White tees measure 2,116 yards. There was sufficient bunkering around all greens but only a couple bunkers along the fairways. We didn’t feel a player was penalized because the fairway bunkers were out of play. As far as quality in the bunkers, they appeared to have new soft sand. On the day we played, we were fortunate not to hit any shots into the bunker.
Holes 1 and 9 are Par 4’s that are mirror images of each other. Measuring 241 and 228 yards respectively, there is very little trouble off the tee. Guarding both greens are bunkers that can swallow up errant approach shots. Holes 2 and 8 are similar Par 3 holes. They measure 146 and 145 yards from the Black tees. The greens for these 2 holes are elevated and have numerous undulations. There were 3 bunkers around and in front of Hole 8. Holes 3 and 4 are relatively short Par 5s measuring under 500 yards. Hole 3 can be reached in 2 shots by longer hitters. The green is large but flat. Hole 4 requires a long shot to the right side of the fairway. Even then, based on the hole set up, it is unlikely a player can reach the green in 2 shots. Shots to the left might be blocked out by a cemetery, surrounding trees, and if too far left, out of bounds. This seemed to be the most difficult hole on the course as the green is tucked in behind trees down the left side of the fairway. Holes 5 and 6 parallel each other. Hole 5 measures 354 yards but is straight. The only trouble is maybe a tree on the right-hand side of the green. Hole 6 is a dog leg right that measures 262 yards. The entire right side of the fairway is tree lined and could block out a player’s 2nd shot. Both greens are well undulated. In front of 6 green is a large bunker. Finally, Hole 7 is a Par 3 measuring 179 yards from the Black tees. From our observation, the green is flat.
One other interesting issue are active train tracks. They are near the 4th green, 5th tee, 6th green, and 7th tee. Players may have to wait until an Amtrak or Sun Rail train goes by to hit a shot. That can be fun to watch if you have a child out on the course with you as what kid doesn’t love trains.
Tee boxes were in rough shape. There were numerous dirt areas and spots that had been over used. Fairways had similar areas where grass hadn’t grown in and, as a result, was dirt. There was virtually no rough. Grass was cut the same height in the fairway and, what appeared to be, formerly rough areas. Some fringe areas around several greens were dirt bare. The best attribute of the course is the greens. They were cut short and fast. A putt could be stroked and roll nicely to the hole. We saw edges on a few greens that were cut so short dirt was the putting surface.
Dads Say So, Winer Park is an ideal course to grow the game. In an age when golf courses keep getting longer, it is refreshing to see a course that has 9 holes that play less than 3,000 yards. Sure, parts of the golf course may not be in the best condition but if you can find a golf course with great greens there is a lot that can be overlooked. When you have a course that is great for beginners and juniors to learn the game on and is still fun for the low handicap player to enjoy there is a lot to be said for that course. If you live in Orlando, or just visiting, click here to find out more information about the course. We will be playing a lot more round at this great place to grow the game.