As you would expect from a destination that hangs its hat on family fun, Orlando, Fla. is chock full of casual, kid and beginner-friendly places to play golf.
In fact, my very first "golf trip" was a nine-hole loop on Disney World's Oak Trail Course back when I was eight years old. My parents caddied for my brother and I. I remember the round quite fondly to this day, especially when I hit a 7-wood into the grandstands being erected for the upcoming PGA Tour event. You could have handed me a giant check on the green.
These days, when I'm in Orlando, I'm usually on I-Drive with convention go-ers or at Bay Hill Club & Lodge for some peace & quiet and possibly a quick round. But someday, like most families, I'll find myself with kids in tow making the theme park rounds. Once your family has pounded the pavement at a few theme parks, how refreshing does a quiet walk on green grass under shady trees sound?
Chances are, green fees are a fraction of what you'll pay for theme park tickets too. Win-win.
Here are some of the best places for a casual round of golf at an executive or par-3 course for the whole family in Orlando, where you don't need to be too nervous about keeping up the pace or dress code. We've also created this interactive Google Map that allows you to see how far these courses are from the three main theme parks.
Located at the same Magic Kingdom neighborhood facility as the Magnolia Course and Palm Course, walker-friendly, nine-hole Oak Trail can play as long as 2,913 yards with two par 5s, or as little as 1,713 for juniors. The clubhouse is full of images of winners of the long-standing Disney Classic, so you can tell your kids they're playing at a historic tour-worthy facility where Tiger Woods has multiple wins.
"Don't be fooled, this is not an executive course," wrote Ronaldl102. "The par 3s are a challenge, and the par 4s & 5s are narrow in spots. It's a great experience for the whole family."
For kids with a true budding interest for the game, take them to the golf superplex Orange County National. They've probably never seen a 360-degree circular range before (and be honest, you probably haven't either). A par-29, The Tooth receives a 4.6/5 rating on Golf Advisor, which is superior to most executive courses.
Part of the Marriott Vacation Club, Grande Vista has a large practice area, short game greens and a moderate length- nine holer that plays 2,400 yards. It earns a solid four-star rating on Golf Advisor however, and architect Ron Garl ensures there are still plenty of exciting shots here.
South of Disney, golf under the lights can be found at Championsgate, which also has two 18-hole championship courses (the National and International). The nine-hole course has holes as long as 99 yards, so it's just a pitch 'n putt in length. The round includes Callaway rental clubs by request.
Two of the four courses at Orange Lake Resort near Disney are nine-hole short courses. Crane's Bend, at 1,900 yards, is a little longer than Legends Walk, which is just 1,500 yards (and also lighted for night play).
"For a par 3 this is in good condition and challenging," wrote Jonmaybry of Legends Walk. "My wife enjoys it as a beginner, and it is far from boring for a low handicapper."
Located north of downtown Orlando and far removed from the tourist vibe, Winter Park is an affordable and walker-friendly option in the heart of Winter Park that's historic and even has some longer holes for youngsters to take on. With a max length of just 2,470, greens are normally small but receptive and not too protected.
Adults will love the Old South vibe, great green conditions and doglegs that require some precision.
While these are some of the best resort options for family rounds, there are plenty of places where local families play golf too. What are some of your favorite short golf courses in Orlando?