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Golf Course Review: Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge

This review is a few days late as a result of a busy, crazy, yet fun week, as well as some internet issues at the hotel trying to upload the video. The PGA Show demo day, where manufacturers showcase their products on the driving range at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge is the main reason I chose to do a course review while on property.

Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge, known locally as OCN, is a wonderful property with a large 360° driving range (pic below), two championship golf courses named Crooked Cat and Panther Lake, and an executive golf course named The Tooth. There is also a lodge and Golf Performance Village on the property. OCN has also hosted several premiere events from past PGA Tour Q School Finals and Special Olympics USA Games, to the current Korn Ferry Tour Finals and a LIV Golf League event.

When you arrive you are greeted by the cart staff at the bag drop ready to get you going. They are very organized, knowing what time and on what course you tee off on once you give them your name. By the time you park your car, they have your clubs loaded up on a golf cart and set off to the side for you to easily find.

Once you are ready to check in be prepared to enter into one of the largest golf shops in the country. You could fit 4 regular-sized golf shops in there with ease. The clubhouse also features a snack bar, restaurant, and full locker room with showers. The staff was friendly and professional. They get to the point of getting you checked in and on your way as they deal with so many guests each day. The starter was great and we talked for a while while I was waiting for the group I was to play with, which happened to be the guys from Bad Birdie Golf Apparel. Great people and really fun to play golf with.

We played the Panther Lakes course on Tuesday morning (1/23/24). I do personally think it is the better and more challenging of the two but both are good designs. The Panther Lakes course however is different in that it has 3 of each par 3, par 4. and par 5 holes on the back nine.

Due to the demo day being held on the OCN driving range, there was no warming up hitting range balls before the round. As I always do I used my GolfFOREVER swing trainer to get loose. Something I was easily able to do by the practice putting green. The practice green is very large with an upper and lower tier. It made taking practice putts fun judging the speed up or down a 3ft slope.

Overall the golf course was a 4.5 out of 5.

Tee Boxes: 4.5 out of 5

The tee boxes at OCN were really good. They were level, had plenty of grass on them, and the tee markers were lined up in the direction they were supposed to be. The grass was cut low enough that you could just drop the ball on the ground on the par 3 holes. There were only a few areas that either had a small depression or areas where the grass had been beaten up over time and yet to fully grow back in.

Fairways: 4.75 out of 5

There is not enough good I can say about the fairways. They were lush, smooth, and green. They were not as firm as I have seen them in years past but still firm enough to get some roll from them. When your ball was in the fairway, unless it ended up in a divot, it was sitting up perfectly.

Greens: 4 out of 5

The greens were rolling very well and except for the amount of unfixed pitch marks, they looked amazing too. The greens were soft for the most part and the ball would spin a lot on high shots and pitch shots would stop quickly, however, they were firm enough that low shots would skip through the green. I personally didn't find the greens to be quick but they had a good pace to them and were by no means slow.

The bunkering was good but the lack of rakes was somewhat annoying. The bunkers on the golf course are very large. There were times when two of us would be in the same bunker 15 - 20 yards apart and have to walk over the only rake in that bunker. I know the easy answer is to avoid the bunkers but when they are as big as they are on the Panther Lakes course there should be at least 4 rakes to each bunker.

All in all, I would highly recommend Orange County National to anyone wanting to play quality golf while visiting the Orlando area. I thought the out-of-state rate they were asking was a tad on the high side but it wasn't horrible.

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