Crooked Cat-Orange County National

This place is a real golf factory facility with two championship golf courses, a 360 degree grass driving area the size of Nebraska, and a golf shop that will make you feel like you are in Nordstroms.  The place has hosted the final stage of the PGA Qualifying School a number of times.  Coupled with how many pros and wanna-be pros living in the Orlando area you are going to see lots of sticks out there practicing and honing their games.

The fare is reasonable for a facility of this quality and the golf and related accommodations are very much what you would expect.  The golf shop is humongous with every major line of apparel represented-if you cannot find something memorable to add to your wardrobe you are either blind or too picky.

This course is one of two that were designed by the team of Phil Ritson, Dave Harman, and Isao Aoki.  They moved a lot of dirt to get the sculpting and landscaping they were after but the result is a course that is very challenging but totally playable.  The variety of the holes is it’s strong suit.  There are the typical Florida holes with adjacent water or environmental areas but there are even a few with an Irish lilt thrown in.  The handicapping of the holes is very realistic-three of the five pars are the 16th, 17th, and 18th handicap holes and two of the par threes are the 4th and 5th handicap holes.  They put real thought into which holes needed the handicap assistance rather than just looking at length to determine it.

If you look carefully at the GPS images of the holes the lines of play are fairly obvious.  Most of the sculpted areas of the fairways are still fairway it is just that hitting from them is a less advantageous place to play from relative to the green.  As with most good courses, driving the ball on the proper line and in the short grass is the best way to get aggressive places to play from.  The greens are plenty large but segmentation and tiering require proper planning on the approach shots to avoid three putts.

The yardage book in the shop is major old school-hand drawn with lots of particulars.  Problem is that it is virtually unreadable to a non-tour mortal so you are better off saving the $7 and just go with the provided GPS in the cart.

This is a very enjoyable afternoon of golf.  As always, play from a tee length with hole distances that are comfortable for you.  The challenge you seek is here at whatever length you choose to play at.

Winter Garden, Florida

Architect: Phil Ritson/Dave Harman/Isao Aoki (1997)

Tees                  Par         Rating        Slope        Yardage

Green               72            73.7            132            6927

Blue                 72            71.4            126            6432

White               72            68.8            122            6020

(Click to see complete Crooked Cat hole-by-hole descriptions)

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