Salamander’s Reunion Resort, just west of Orlando Florida, is how to three fantastic golf courses by three of the game’s greatest players: Jack Nicklaus, ow Watson and the late, great, King, Arnold Palmer.
The Arnold Palmer Course at Reunion Resort plays 6,916 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 70.9 and a slope of 132. Five sets of tees make the Arnold Palmer Course enjoyable for golfers of all skill sets and abilities. The course can be played anywhere from 4800 yards to 6900 yards.
Since its opening, the course has received many accolades including #21 on Golf Digest’s list of America’s Top 40 New Courses in 2005, and Golf Magazine’s “The Best Courses Near You”, where it ranked # 24 in 2008 and #27 in 2010. Golfweek Magazine has also bestowed many awards on this Arnold Palmer masterpiece.
What makes this course so unique – particularly in this part of the country – is the hilly terrain. You can also find some dramatic (remember this is Florida) elevation changes of up to 50 feet. All of this can make for some interesting risk/reward opportunities. Would Arnie have it any other way? The Palmer course is as beautiful as it is challenging. Expansive waste areas and strategically placed bunkers combine with the natural rolling terrain, mature trees and meticulous landscaping to ensure you have a memorable round. The fairways are, for the most part wide and generous, giving you the opportunity to do what Arnold did for a living: go for broke!
The greens feature quite a bit of undulation. Many of them are oversized, some feature multiple tiers, crowns and ridges; very seldom do you find yourself with a straight putt.
The practice facilities are second to none with a targeted grass range, putting greens and short game areas for chipping, pitching and bunker practice. The course is serviced by a beautiful clubhouse with an impressively stocked golf shop, restaurant, lounge and outdoor patio.
Memorable Holes (All Yardages are from the Gold Tees)
Number 4: Par 4, 339 yards. Don’t let the length of this hole fool you, it may be short but it demands two good shots to get it close. The green is rather shallow; it is also very firm and slopes drastically from back to front. Unless you are approaching from the right side, you will need to carry it on to the green. If this is your only par, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
Number 6: Par 4, 376 yards. The right side of this dogleg right par 4 is full of bunkers as well as a large waste area the farther right you go. A well-placed fairway bunker on the left side collects a lot of balls as well off the tee. A drive played down the right side of the fairway provides the shortest approach shot however club selection on your second shot is critical for a realistic opportunity at birdie.
Number 7: Par 4, 274 yards. The ultimate in risk/reward opportunities and the rarest of golf holes! This is truly a short par 4. Many players will be tempted to drive the green; few will succeed! This severely undulating green is almost completely surrounded by deep bunkers; not to mention the intimidating tee shot over water. There is nothing wrong with marking a 4 on your card for this hole!
Number 9: Par 5, 526 yards. Longball hitters can get there in two if the hole is playing downwind. The waste area that you have to carry off the tee is present all the way down the right side. The pitch and undulation of the fairway can also make for some awkward lies. The green is large and slopes gently from back to front making for plenty of birdie opportunities.
Number 10: Par 5, 581 yards. This par 5 dogleg right hole is pretty much a three-shot hole for any golfer. Try and cut the dogleg and a cluster of well-placed fairway bunkers awaits your shot. Hit whatever club you hit the longest (this may include a driver depending upon your confidence of hitting it “off the deck”) on your second shot to leave a manageable distance for your approach shot. The green has a gentle slope to it and as well guarded by bunkers.
Number 15: Par 5, 487 yards. This to me is the most interesting hole on the course. It is – by all accounts thus far on the Arnold Palmer Course – a short par 5. The thing is that unless you can hit a 300-yard drive over water, you can’t really aim at the green. If you can pull that off, getting on in two is pretty much a given. The rest of us will have to determine how much of the hole to cut off, making it a three-shot hole. You will also find huge elevation changes on both your layup and approach shots so be sure to take an extra club.
Number 18: Par 4, 382 yards. This is a beautiful and well landscape finishing hole. What you don’t see off the tee can hurt you. From the tee, you can see the well-placed fairway bunkers on either side of the fairway. What you don’t realize is that from there, the fairway dips downhill and incorporates a large waste bunker and large rocks. Very aesthetic and appealing – unless you get behind one! Your approach shot is uphill to a two-tiered green that slopes from back to front. A very scenic hole.
The Arnold Palmer Course at Reunion Resort is a very exciting and challenging course. While it may be the shortest of the three courses, it still offers a good mix of long and shot holes that will have you hitting every club in your bag. There are several risk/reward opportunities that can make (or break) a good round. Something else you don’t usually experience in these parts of Florida are uphill shots. There are several elevation changes whether it is hitting over a deep depression on a par three hole or trekking uphill to the green on a par 5, it is certainly a welcome change from your typical Florida golf outing. This layout has a number of forced carries off the tee, however it shouldn’t be much of a problem unless you are playing from the back tees. But then, what else would you expect?
The course and especially the greens are always in tournament playing conditions. There are not a lot of straight putts on any of the greens on this course so be prepared to take your time and read each putt carefully. There are also a few hidden surprises that cannot be seen of the green in the form of waste and sand bunkers and the rocks on 18.
Besides being home to three championship courses designed by three of the most memorable players to ever pick up a club, Reunion Resort is also a family retreat, combining the best of resort amenities with small-town life. Amenities include horse stables, tennis courts, a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center, a water park a multitude of swimming pools in various locations, miles of biking and hiking trails and, of course shopping. And let’s not forget the world-class dining! All in all, the Palmer Course at Reunion Resort is a great test for golfers of all playing levels and abilities. For more information, be sure to visit their website at www.reunionresort.com or give them a call to book your next tee time at (407) 662-1000.