Another enthralling part of the Florida Swing takes place at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf Club.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA Tour event, sees some of the World Best players line up and our USA Golf expert Robin Couchman, has also played the course and spent time here to reflect on a superb golf course with a lot of nostalgia and sentiment as well…
As I arrived at the Lodge at Bay Hill, I soon realised how this felt…it was like I was travelling to my own local golf club, not a high rise, all singing all dancing big hotel, more a low level, understated, classic looking lodge that was like an extension to the clubhouse with luxurious rooms and suites, all flowing into one.
It is only 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of International Drive in central Orlando and yet set in the suburbs of Orlando in a relative peaceful and tranquil location. I felt at home straight away and took a nice stroll around the Resort and there are two main dining areas at the “Grill and Classic Room”, which serves breakfast and lunch, or the Bay Window restaurant that overlooks the putting green and iconic Rolex Watch Tower. The spa is serene and ideal after a tough 18 holes to sit back, relax and find out where it all went wrong!
With just a short walk from your room to the clubhouse, it’s a very easy way to start your day with excellent practice facilities close by and then over to the first tee for what is a relatively straight forward dog leg left and the chance to start with a par. There are 27 holes in total as part of the set up here, of which the Champion and Challenger 9s’ are the PGA Tour course and this is where I was lucky enough to play. The additional 9 (named the Charger) is also an excellent set of holes to variate your stay with different combinations of 18. As you work your way around the course, you will start to recognise some iconic holes, especially the Par 5 6th hole that follows around the water, where many have tried and failed to bite of more than they can chew and taking on the green in two. The course comes into life right at the end with a treacherous Par 3 17th that is over water and making a 3 here will certainly put you in good stead for the tricky 18th with out of bounds all down the left and a measured approach over water once again.
The trademark umbrella logo is all around and evident on everything, from merchandise, refreshment cups to the golf carts and even the PGA Pros have now taken to adding it to their own attire on shoes and caps and a fitting tribute to Arnold himself. One unusual quirk is the bar in the locker room and it was said that Arnold Palmer himself spent many a happy time there, meeting lots of players and taking time out to talk about the course and golf in general…if only I had got that chance!