ORLANDO, Fla. -- Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge holds a unique place in Orlando as a private club that also doubles as 70-room lodge open to visitors. It's combination of intimacy and luxury is tough to find in Orlando, where courses are either ultra-exclusive or huge golf resorts.
Even more unique, of course, is that Arnold Palmer owns the place and lives here, and sightings of "The King" are a regular occurrence. With Golf Channel headquarters just a few miles to the east of Bay Hill, its employees get the chance to play here from time-to-time. Many of them have rated the experience on GolfAdvisor.
Golf Channel analyst Jerry Foltz had this to say about Bay Hill:
"Whatever the scorecard says, it seems to play about 300 yards longer," wrote Foltz who recommends amateurs play a tee box or two up here. "I kept waiting to get to the easy holes, and next thing you know, we were finished. Even the shorter holes are made very demanding by the precision required into the greens in order to leave a makeable putt."
Former PGA Tour pro Charlie Rymer echoes Foltz's thoughts on its difficulty.
"The opening three holes are among the toughest on tour," wrote Rymer. "And the closing three are among the most exciting. And the middle 12, well, no slackers there."
Golf & travel expert Matt Ginella, viewing the course from the eyes of an avid amateur golfer, says it's Palmer's mere presence that makes the place so special:
"It's not the best course in Florida and it might not even be in the discussion for best in or around Orlando," Ginella wrote. "But none of the competition has the charm and mystique of The King."
Video: Sonders & Williams take on Hack & Rymer at Bay Hill
"My favorite hole is the crescent moon-shaped par-5 sixth hole where John Daly made an 18 in the 1998 tournament," Deegan wrote. "I might have tossed up a snowman at some point, but at least I beat Big John."
Said Bailey: "It's terrific Florida golf, punctuated by two of the best par 5s in the Orlando and a great finishing hole. As you might expect for a tour level course, conditioning is superb and so is the experience."
So should you ditch Orlando's resorts to enjoy the ambiance of the club and challenge of the course, just heed this warning:
"Warning: Don't wear your hat in the clubhouse," Rymer writes. "Mr. Palmer is not a fan of that."