Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - 18th
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - 18th
The El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club north of Orlando goes back almost 100 years. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - 1st
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - 1st
The El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida opens with a not-so-easy par 5. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 3
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 3
The 460-yard par-4 third hole on El Campeon is one of the most difficult on the golf course. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon G.C. - 7th
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon G.C. - 7th
At 457 yards, the seventh on the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club is the no. 2 handicap hole with trouble off the tee and approach. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - 9th
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - 9th
One of the easier holes on the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club is the 353-yard par-4 ninth. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon GC - 10th
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon GC - 10th
The 10th hole on the El Campeon golf course at Mission Inn Resort & Club is a risk-reward par 5 that wraps around a lake. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 13
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 13
The short par-4 13th on the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club plays over a lake and uphill. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 14
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 14
The par-5 14th on the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club plays downhill and over water. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 16
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 16
The par-4 16th, with a bunker and hazard surrounding the green, begins the difficult finishing stretch on the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club in central Florida. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 17
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon golf course - hole 17
The par-5 17th on the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club has all kinds of trouble, including a bunker and pond in front of the green. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon GC - 18th
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Mission Inn Resort - El Campeon GC - 18th
The El Campeon golf course at Mission Inn Resort & Club ends with a 423-yard par 4 that plays over water. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor

El Campeon: The old golf course at Mission Inn Resort & Club in central Florida really is a 'Champion'

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. -- With the possible exception of exclusive Mountain Lake, there is nothing quite like the El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club when it comes to golf in Florida .

One of the hilliest courses in the state, El Campeon is also one of the oldest, dating back to 1917. Simply put, this George O'Neil design has plenty of character with a finishing stretch among the toughest in the area.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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You sort of know what to expect with Mission Inn Resort & Club just north of Orlando. As their director of sales and marketing says unapologetically, "This isn't the Ritz-Carlton," so you might expect a pretty blue-collar resort. And that's true, to a point, until you realize that the clientele runs the gamut. There's something about this place that appeals to everyone. You can't underestimate the value of a personal touch. And you'll feel like you're part of that family when you're here.
Also known as "The Hills," Mission Inn Resort and Club's Las Colinas Course was designed by former PGA Tour player Gary Koch. Opened in 1992, the course contrasts with the resort's other course, El Campeon, which is actually hillier and opened in 1917. Las Colinas has six sets of tees and measures 7,230 yards from the tips. Spread out through a development, the course features large greens, plenty of water and sand, and thick trees guarding many of the fairways.
While golfers understandably flock to courses in Florida designed by architecture icons such as Dye, Fazio and Nicklaus, the Sunshine State also has impressive layouts by lesser known designers. If you've never played a course designed by architects such as John Sanford, Mike Dasher, Gordon Lewis, Gary Koch and Bill Amick, you haven't fully experienced great Florida golf. Luckily, courses by unfamiliar designers are located in different parts of the state so you don't have to travel far regardless of where you are.
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El Campeon: The old golf course at Mission Inn Resort & Club in central Florida really is a 'Champion'
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