“Give me warm temps and 75-80 degree weather, and I’m there.” This is what I told a fellow golf buddy back in November when he emailed me about a potential midwinter golf trip. I had a slew of home interior projects on the slate to do over the winter months, and I knew that I’d have to cram about 4 months of work into 6 weeks if SWMBO was going to even remotely consider giving me the blessing to go. I didn’t get everything on the DIY front finished as hoped, but I did do enough for her to throw me a golfing bone. “Go ahead and plan your trip,” she said. “You’ve earned it.”
When my friend and I hopped on the plane early Thursday morning in Northeastern PA, it was 28* outside. Approximately 3-and-a-half hours later we were on the first tee at Hunter’s Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, and it was almost 80*. It’s also worth noting that for the first time in 2012 – I could almost feel sweat beading on my forehead.
Hunter’s Creek Golf Club
Since we weren’t sure of what time we would be arriving Thursday morning, my friend and I didn’t have a standing tee time anywhere the first day of the trip. He suggested a course that he’d played years ago, primarily out of convenience with regard to the airport we flew into. I called them up on the way and the head pro there informed us that his tee sheet was busy, but he would figure a way to get us out if we came by. We took him up on his offer, since we were only minutes away from the course as it was.
Hunter’s Creek Golf Club is basically your typical Florida golf course, relatively flat with plenty of sand, water, and pines to reek havoc upon wayward tee shots. The greens are relatively big but aren’t overly undulating. This course was designed back in 1986 by Lloyd Clifton, and has hosted some fairly prestigious professional golf events over the years, like one stage of PGA Tour qualifying back in 1989, and US Open qualifying from 1989-1994. In 1990, Golf Digest ranked Hunter’s Creek as one of the top 75 courses to play that year.
My friend and I found the course to be a fair test from the middle Green tees, a touch under 6500 yards. Although the layout boasts 5 teeing sections, there is a notable gap between the middle green tees and the white tees. The green tees measure 6482 yards, and the white tees measure 5800 yards. Ideally there would be a teeing section in the 6100 yard range, but unfortunately there isn’t at Hunter’s Creek. The course layout was good, but there were a lot of holes that looked familiar. Only a couple of holes stood out differently than the rest, which generally means that the course lacks character. This course doesn’t lack character as much as it lacks variety. It would be hard to find more than a couple of weak holes on the layout, but I did approach several tee boxes with a “didn’t we just play this hole a few minutes ago” feeling.
Hunter’s Creek Golf Club Overall Grade: B
Course Conditions: When we got to the course, the first thing I noticed was that it didn’t look all that different from the courses back home this time of season in the Northeast. (It’s worth noting that the pic I’ve posted was from an online source, not actual pictures of the day we played.) The bermuda fairways and rough were dormant, and a couple of the sand bunkers were not raked by the players ahead of us. Now obviously this isn’t directly the fault of the golf course staff, as golfers should always respect the etiquette of caring for the golf course that they’re playing. But I’m not a fan of having rakes attached to the golf cart, as most golfers don’t realize that the course doesn’t put rakes near the sand bunkers. This essentially lends itself to un-raked footprints and sand shots, since most golfers find it too inconvenient to go back to the cart to retrieve the bunker rake. The greens were excellent, however. It was obvious that whatever water they were neglecting to use on the fairways, they were dousing on the greens. They were nice and quick. Overall, I have to give the course conditions a B-.
Course Facilities: The practice range is modest but serviceable. The teeing section available that day was rather worn, however. They could’ve afforded us a fresh teeing area at the very least. The range balls were very worn and some were almost dimple-less, which was disappointing. The practice green was nice, with plenty of holes and was fairly representative of the contours and speed of the greens on the course. The clubhouse looks nice from the outside but the interior looked to be in need of updating. The food and waitstaff service from the restaurant was good but pricey. I paid $9.00 for a club sandwich and a bottle of water. Overall, I give the facilities a B-.
The Staff: We found the staff to be very friendly and accommodating. The head professional was very personable and went out of his way to make us feel welcomed. He got extra points for fitting us in on that busy day, for sure. The outside staff were helpful and pleasant as well. They deserve high marks… A+.
Final Thoughts: Despite the so-so conditions, you’d be hard pressed to find a public golf course anywhere in Orlando that offers greens fees for under $100. If you’re trying to stick to a budget and need somewhere to play on a whim, Hunter’s Creek will fit the bill. Greens fees were $49/player, and overall we couldn’t really complain about what we got for the price.
On Friday we played Highlands Reserve, also in Orlando. I’ll be posting a review of that course sometime over the weekend.