Championsgate Golf Resort
Everyone Deserves to be This Spoiled!
By David Theoret
As you pull up to the bag drop area at the Championsgate Golf Resort, you realize that you are in for a treat. A valet is there to greet you and unload the bags from your car. Within seconds a 2nd attendant arrives with a cart and hoists your bags aboard. In the meantime the valet is greeting you and inquiring of your tee time. The cart is then whisked away to the "staging" area as you are given directions to the proshop. The valet takes your car and the Championsgate experience begins.
The niceties continue as you are greeted by the pro shop staff and quizzed upon what they can do to ensure that you have a memorable round of golf. Aside from having the head professional tagging along and make all your putts, you assure them that everything is running smooth. Then, it's off to the driving range.
Don't get me wrong, like any golfer (or person of the male species for that matter), I love the attention. General Manager Kenny Winn and his staff go the extra mile to make sure that your round at Championsgate is memorable. Even if you shoot the worst score of your life, you will at least remember where you shot it!
Championsgate is a nationally acclaimed golf facility for world-class golf, offering 36 holes designed by Greg Norman. The world headquarters of the David Ledbetter Golf Academy is also on the property as are an expansive - and complimentary - practice facility which includes a short game area with sand bunkers and a practice putting green. Championsgate has always been known for their first-class amenities which include valet parking, iced towels and a digital GPS system that acts as a professional caddy.
The 35,000 square foot clubhouse offers complete dining and lounge areas, as well as banquet space for up to 250 people. Inside you will also find a fully stocked pro shop and guest locker rooms. The adjacent Omni at Championsgate is a world class hotel and features upscale accommodations and amenities. On property you will find extensive conference facilities, fine dining, a 24-hour fitness center, a full service spa, as well as recreational activities including tennis, basketball and sand volleyball. There are also swimming pools (plural) with a lazy river and water slide.
There are two 18-hole championship course at Championsgate; the National and International. Greg Norman designed these courses to offer golfers a blend of tradition and modern elements in order to create a unique golf experience. No matter which course and tees you choose to play, you will experience a challenging round of golf.
National Course Review
The National Course was the first course built at Championsgate. It is a traditional style layout with massive bunkers, forced carries over marshes, many wetlands and memorable par three holes. Four sets of tees make the National course enjoyable for all golfers regardless of skill level. The back tees measure 7128 yards and carry a course rating of 75.2 with a slope of 138. The average player will more than likely select the blue tees at 6,427 yards. This will make for a more pleasurable round as only three of the par fours top 400 yards.
Wood-lined fairways, strategically placed water hazards and a large amount of sand make the National Course an incredibly enjoyable experience. The greens are of medium speed and many holes feature undulating greens that make putting a challenge. Water comes into play on many holes, only one or two forced carries will present a sever problem to the average golfer.
Number 1: Par 4, 434 yards. Accuracy off the tee is the key to a good start on the National course at Championsgate. Trouble awaits left in the scrub brush; go too far right off the tee and you will find the water, (which shouldn't come into play until you are much closer to the green). The right center is the optimum position from the tee. From here you will find an unabated path to the green. A large sand bunker eats up errant shots left while water awaits anything long and right. The large kidney shaped green is long and narrow.
Number 3: Par 5, 517 yards. This par 5 double dogleg is reachable in two if you can carry the first bunker on the left. From there you will have a choice to either fade a long approach shot around a large tree or, depending on your ball position, take it over the tree. Whether it is your second or third shot to the green, you will want to avoid the massive bunker complex on the left side of the fairway. The green is long and narrow and club selection on approach is important depending on front or back pin placement.
Number 5: Par 4, 323 yards. A short par 4 that demands accuracy off the tee. Club selection is important; take enough to carry the wetland without hitting through the fairway. The putting surface is well guarded by large, deep sand bunkers left and right. The green is very narrow and long with a few undulations.
Number 12: Par 4, 389 yards. The only place you will find more sand is at the beach; no less than eleven bunkers on this one hole. It's also another hole where position off the tee is vitally important. Obviously hitting driver off the tee will leave a shorter approach shot but, if you have confidence in your long irons or hybrids, the smart play is to hit short of the bunker complex and play a longer iron into a long narrow green that slopes gently from back to front.
Number 14: Par 3, 210 yards. As you stand on the tee box you will realize that your only option off the tee is to put it on the green. There is no room left, right or long and very little room in front without being in some sort of hazard. Two tall pine trees growing in the wetlands can greatly impact your tee shot as well. Enough said; put it on the green, make your par and move on.
Number 15: Par 4, 315 yards. Once again, your tee shot will determine birdie or bogie (or something worse). Favor the right side of the fairway off the tee. Keep your approach shot to the right side of the green and try not to miss left as everything slopes to the water.
Number 17: Par 5, 636 yards. The number 2 handicap and for good reason; there is trouble everywhere on this hole. Straight ahead off the tee water awaits. Depending on the tees you are playing the water is very reachable. Miss your tee shot right and you most likely will never see it again. The layup shot is no picnic either as there is a very narrow landing area between water and sand. As if that's not enough, the approach shot is downright scary. For most, it will be a long pitching wedge or sand wedge to the green complex which offers a very narrow green with sand front right and water left. Take a par and run.
Last Word: The key to shooting a low score at Championsgate is choosing the right set of tees. Being able to control; your tee shots is vital as well. Failure to do so will lead to a lot of lost balls and playing out of a lot of hazards. The par three holes are especially challenging and there are a couple of short par fours that are drivable from the tee as well as many other risk reward opportunities.
Several holes on the National Course have been rerouted. For example, number two is no longer a par three and number seventeen, the long par 5, is now number 18 and a very fine ending hole. This plays havoc with personal GPS systems however the on-cart system is right on the money.
Take your time and enjoy the spoils that Championsgate has to offer; you'll be glad you did. For more information or to book tee times online, visit their website at www.championsgategolf.com or give them a call at (407) 787-GOLF (4653).
Revised: 03/06/2014 - Article Viewed 28,576 Times - View Golf Course Profile
About: David Theoret
David Theoret has been in the golf and golf travel industry for over 10 years, primarily selling online advertising. For the past seven years, he has also been a golf writer, reviewing golf courses, resorts, destinations, equipment, golf apparel, and training aids - the latter of which never seems to help. David's articles and reviews have been posted on many golf travel and equipment websites.
Growing up in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, it was naturally assumed he would play hockey. Beginning at the age of 3 and continuing into his late 30's, he did just that. However, after one too many pucks to the head, he realized that golf was a lot easier on the body (whoever said hockey players were slow) and took the game up.
After moving to Florida and accepting a position with TravelGolf Media (now part of GolfNow) his love for the game grew exponentially. Most Saturdays you will find him on a course somewhere in Florida or on the practice range reinforcing his bad habits. David plays to a 10 handicap - unless there is money involved in which case it goes considerably higher. He currently resides in Lakeland, FL with his wife Belinda and their two "kids", Madyson and Molly.
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