Orlando: 72 holes in 72 hours
By Mike McAllister
Mission Inn Resort's El Campeon course was built in 1926.
Victoria Hills: Yardage/Par: 6,989/72. Greens fees: $37-$75, cart included. (386) 738-6000. www.arvida.com.
Grand Cypress: Yardage/Par: 6,693/72. Greens fees: $115-$175, cart included. (407) 239-1904. www.grandcypress.com
Mission Inn-El Campeon: Yardage/Par: 6,923/72. Greens fees: $60-$125, cart included. (352) 324-3885. www.missioninnresort.com
The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes: Yardage/Par: 7,160/72. Greens fees: $59-$109, cart included. (407) 444-9995. www.legacyclubgolf.com
Alternative courses: Deer Island (352) 343-7550; Falcon's Fire (407) 239-5445; Bay Hill (407) 876-2429; Highlands Reserve (863) 420-1724).
Next week we'll travel to the Denver, Colorado, area.
(CNN) -- One of America's top vacation spots, Orlando -- like the rest of Florida -- is also a golfer's haven. In fact, a visit to Walt Disney World not only gives you the Magic Kingdom but also five 18-hole courses, including ones designed by two of the best-known golf architects, Tom Fazio and Pete Dye.
But don't expect Mickey to caddie for you.
Of course, Orlando not only is the home of Tiger Woods (who lives in the gated community of Isleworth) but also of Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill. A longtime stop on the PGA Tour, Bay Hill can be yours if you're willing to shell out the dough ($200-plus greens fee), but the course's reputation probably exceeds its reality.
Golf Digest no longer rates Bay Hill among its top 100 courses in the country. Unless you need to make Bay Hill another notch on your golf clubs, go ahead and check out some of the other courses in the area.
As for playing in Florida, here's a couple of things to consider: The high season is generally October to March, so think about visiting Florida in, say, September or April/May. Also, you'll need to build in some extra time on the courses since the pace probably will be slower than you expect.
After flying into Orlando International Airport on Friday morning, here's how we'd play it the rest of the weekend:
Victoria Hills: With its oak- and pine-lined fairways and hilly terrain, the course (31 miles from Orlando) is reminiscent of what you might find in the Carolinas. It's played to rave reviews since opening in 2002.
Golf magazine rated it one of the top 10 courses "you can play," and GolfWeek rated it one of the top 15 public courses in Florida. Golf Digest readers have raved about its course condition, which should give you some peace of mind when you're standing over a 6-foot putt for par.
Grand Cypress: Jack Nicklaus designed 45 holes at this resort in the Lake Buena Vista area. His homage to Scottish links is the 18-hole New Course that includes 12-foot pot bunkers, double greens and stone walls. If you don't think you'll ever get to St. Andrews, you might do well to check out this U.S. alternative. Also, make sure to pay a visit to the golf shop, ranked among the best in the country.
Mission Inn-El Campeon: Speaking of Scotland, Charles E. Clarke of Troon built El Campeon (The Champion) in 1926. He didn't design it so much to honor his links background; instead, the thing you'll notice about this course is the changes in elevation.
The signature hole is the 538-yard double-dogleg 17th. By the way, the other course at Mission Inn is called Las Colinas and was designed by PGA pro Gary Koch.
Be sure to check out the Internet specials on the Mission Hills Web site.
The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes: The natural beauty of this Fazio-designed course may challenge your focus when you reach for a club. With wetlands and natural preserves throughout the layout, Fazio's course is one of just 50 facilities in the world certified as an Audubon International Signature Certified Sanctuary golf course.
Since it's just about 10 miles north of Orlando, you won't have a lengthy haul back to the airport to make your Sunday afternoon flight home.