What’s better than a private golf club membership? How about a membership that includes two separate and distinctly different clubs?
For years, the Lake Mary area was home to two private country clubs located just a couple of miles apart, Heathrow Country Club and The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes. The clubs competed against each other for membership and special events and the competition was pretty fierce. With only a limited number of golfers and potential new members in the area, both clubs started to flounder.
Enter Concert Golf Partners, one of the fastest-growing private club ownership companies in the US whose specialty is turning around floundering private clubs. Typically, it involves a much-needed infusion of capital to get the “turnaround” process started and their success rate is amazing. Concert has over 30 properties in its portfolio, spanning 16 states from Massachusetts to Texas. As a member of one club, you become a member of all of them, so you can play a round of golf or tennis, swim, or dine at other Concert Golf properties during your travels. It’s always something to consider when planning a vacation.
Concert purchased Heathrow out of foreclosure in July 2011. The Legacy at Alaqua Lakes had been under the threat of foreclosure and was purchased in October 2013. Over the past 10+ years, conditions at both clubs have improved significantly, and on a recent visit, it appears both clubs are once again thriving.
A little history on both. Heathrow Country Club was established in 1983 and for years was considered the leading private country club and social hub in North Orlando. Heathrow features an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Lakeland, Florida native Ron Garl. Over the years, Heathrow has played host to nine US Open Qualifiers and its members have included PGA TOUR players Chris DiMarco, Fulton Allem, Jim Thorpe, and others. The 15,000-square-foot clubhouse offers full dining and banquet facilities, and the adjacent 9,000-square-foot Racquet Club consists of a 13-court tennis complex with a stadium center court and one of the premier aquatic facilities in Central Florida. The tennis complex has a history all its own!
The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes opened in 1998 and features an 18-hole, Tom Fazio championship golf course. To this day, Tom Fazio considers The Legacy Club one of his best pieces of work. The course winds its way through a dense forest of mature trees and the slopes, rises, and knolls in the topography of the land are unique to this part of Florida. The course is certified as an Audubon International Signature Certified Sanctuary golf course and with its state-of-the-art meeting facilities, Legacy Club is a great place to host a special event.
Either golf course will challenge golfers of every level. Both facilities offer a clubhouse with a golf shop and restaurant, a driving range, a putting green, and a short game area. Heathrow Legacy’s staff of golf professionals want you to get the most out of your game but more importantly, enjoy yourself. They oversee programs for all golfers and see to it that you make the most of Heathrow Legacy’s golf amenities. Lessons are available for all members regardless of skill level, and the staff can also help with individual club fitting for any club in the bag. The Golf Shop stocks the latest in equipment and their selection of logoed apparel will help you look your best.
Heathrow offers golfers six tee boxes with the scorecard showing a seventh yardage (White Tees), which combines the Blue and Gold Tees. Yardages range from 6,888 yards for accomplished players to 4,951 yards for juniors, seniors, and ladies. Pick the tees that best suit your game and you’re sure to have a good time. That said, you better be able to hit accurate approach shots into small greens if you want to score well.
The first hole is a picturesque par 4, dogleg left that plays 377 yards with bunkers that frame the landing area. Your approach shot is uphill to a large, well-undulated green. Once you hit the second tee, water takes center stage and comes into play on 16 of the final 17 holes. No Ron Garl design is complete without an Island green, and the 12th hole is the piece de resistance in this water jigsaw puzzle. The hole plays 117 yards with a pot bunker on the left side of the green. On the 17th hole, Garl uses the water to create an island fairway. Anything left or right off the tee will most likely find the water; hit it too far straight and it’s either sand or water. Find the fairway off the tee and you’ll still have to cross over the water on your approach. It’s handicapped the 2nd most challenging hole on the course.
The Legacy Club has six sets of tees to choose from as well as a hybrid Blue/White yardage listed on the scorecard. The golf course has several memorable par 5s; three of which are handicapped 1, 2, and 4! The 4th hole is the course’s #1 handicap and plays 499 yards from the White Tees. This dogleg left starts with a forced carry over water into a narrow landing area with a bunker on the left. From the corner of the dogleg in, trees line both sides of the fairway and for most, it’s a three-shot hole. Trees on the left and sand on the right create a narrow landing area for your layup shot, and sand pretty much surrounds the green. Par is a great score here! Number 15 is the #2 handicap and plays 493 yards with water on the left and trees lining the right. A tree on the right side about 140 yards from the green wreaks havoc with many golfers who do their best to avoid it and end up finding either the water on the left or one of several bunkers in the landing area.
Should you prefer the courts over the course, the club offers a world-class tennis facility that has hosted two ATP events in 1990 and 1991. The tennis program has been run by one of Central Florida’s most respected Tennis Directors, Barry Myers, since its inception almost 30 years ago. World-renowned tennis professionals Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Billie Jean King have all played on Heathrow Athletic Club’s sunken stadium court. The racquet club features 11 fast clay courts and 2 hard courts. Whether you’re new to the game or an accomplished player, the tennis staff will see to it that you are paired up with players of the same ability and skills.
Club members typically take a lot of pride in the culinary aspects of their club; I’ve spoken with members in the past whose decision on which club to join came down to which one had the best food! Heathrow Legacy offers the same menu at both properties with dinner entrees such as Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Chicken, A Pan Seared Ribeye Steak, and Seared Ahi Tuna. Both locations serve breakfast lunch, and dinner Tuesday – Sunday.
If you’re relocating to the North Orlando area and are looking for a club with a lot of recreational options and the opportunity to meet new people and make friends, you should consider a membership at Heathrow Legacy. They offer several membership plans including a Champions Business Asset Membership, Champions Golf Membership, Tennis, and Social Memberships. And, if you would like to keep your weekends free but still enjoy everything both clubs have to offer, look into their Weekday Membership which includes unlimited access to both golf facilities Tuesday-Friday as well as all amenities at both facilities, and member privileges at all Concert Golf properties. For more information, give them a call or fill out the form on their website, www.heathrowcc.com.