Golf in Orlando: Golfers know there's more to O-Town than Mickey
Given the abundance of quality golf courses in Orlando - not to mention its 300-plus sunny days a year, its thousands of hotel rooms, and a tourism industry that rivals any in the world - this city has all the makings of a great golf vacation destination.
Yet for some, Orlando golf remains in the shadow of one particular mouse.
"Our greatest asset may also be our biggest hindrance to being a true golf destination," says Todd Howard, Director of Golf at the International Golf Club. "Most people come to see Disney World and Sea World, and they will golf while they are here. Hey, we can't complain about that, but golf does exist in the shadow of Mickey."
Still, any town with this many golf courses and 110,000 hotel rooms should be considered a major, national golf destination.
Howard points out that since 1998 more courses have been built in Orlando than in Myrtle Beach - maybe anywhere other than Vegas. "But because there are so many other things to do here, we aren't always mentioned as one of the major golf destinations," he said.
Let the mentioning begin. World-class architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones, Dick Wilson and Joe Lee validate Orlando as a golf destination with the quality to match its eye-popping quantity.
Further proof that this is truly one of America's golf capitals: Orlando plays host to two PGA Tour events and an LPGA tournament - something few cities can claim. All three tournaments are held at courses open to the public. In fact, private courses are the exception around "O-Town" and not the rule.
Oh, and did we mention that Orlando is the home of the Golf Channel, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, top-notch golf schools, and the annual PGA Merchandise Show, which attracts nearly 50,000 industry professionals each year? The PGA of America's headquarters and the World Golf Village are just a morning road trip away, as are the golf-rich towns of Tampa and Daytona.
Perhaps there is an irony in Orlando that is lost on Mickey and friends: One of the game's greatest domestic destinations is also one of its best kept secrets.