Walt Disney World Golf has been around since 1971 when the Palm Golf Course was built. That’s right, 2021 is also the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Golf.
I was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to the courses, The Palm and Magnolia are gorgeous with pristine fairways, and a few hazards along the way. I would absolutely take time out of my Disney days to play a round! While I wasn’t playing 18 holes this trip, I was there to learn FootGolf, an unexpectedly fun twist on golf. It gets you moving, laughing and enjoying the Oak Trail Course.
Fun Fact: Once when I was staying at Old Key West Resort, Tiger Woods was outside of my balcony practicing on the Lake Buena Vista course! Talk about a jaw dropping moment. My girls and I watched him drive like I have never seen someone drive a ball off a tee!
Walt Disney World Golf
Not a golfer himself, Walt Disney was a true visionary and it didn’t take him long to realize that the sky was the limit for golf in Central Florida. While developing the overall concept for what would become the Walt Disney World Resort, and shortly after acquiring the Florida property, Disney sketched a preliminary outlook for the future of the site—including his vision for EPCOT, an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. On the drawing just to the right of the property’s then-proposed central hub, and below spaces devoted to the eventual Magic Kingdom Park, resort hotels, convention facilities, and man-made lakes – Disney identified and labeled a large area designated for “golf.” And well the rest is history.
A half century later, four unique courses, now operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management, provide a golfer’s paradise. The layouts are challenging enough for the PGA TOUR’s greatest players, but also friendly enough to accommodate all skill levels at what’s come to be known as “The Happiest Place on TURF!”
These pristine courses are flawless, and you will follow in the footsteps of some of golfs greats.
There are 54 holes of challenging golf on three 18-hole championship courses — Disney’s Lake Buena Vista, Disney’s Magnolia and Disney’s Palm golf courses — and a 9-hole family-friendly course – Disney’s Oak Trail course – that await golfers of all ages and skill levels.
The four Walt Disney World Resort golf courses are:
Disney’s Palm Golf Course
Picturesque natural beauty featuring shimmering lakes, majestic palm trees and tropical sands make Disney’s Palm Golf Course a pleasure to play and a challenge to conquer. Tee options vary between 5,213 yards (red tees) and 6,870 yards (blue tees) – which includes 59 bunkers and nine holes with water in play, and undulating greens that are considered the most difficult to master at Disney. The par-4 18th hole – which features a well-protected and elevated green – was always one of the most difficult on the PGA TOUR.
Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course
Designed as a classic Tour style course by Joe Lee, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course is the longest of the Walt Disney World Resort courses, playing at 7,516 yards from the black tees during tournaments (7,073 yards from blue tees for daily play). The course features magnolia trees along the fairways, elevated tees, large greens, 97 bunkers and 11 holes with water hazards. All bunkers were renovated in 2015 when extensive tree work and cart path improvements enhanced the condition of the course. The sixth hole has long been home to a Mickey Mouse-inspired bunker in the shape of Mickey’s iconic ears.
Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course
Designed in 1972 by Joe Lee, this course near Disney Springs® winds through several of the resort properties, including Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course’s wide-open fairways are spacious, but its elevated and well-guarded greens place an emphasis on accurate approach shots. The course, which plays between 5,177 and 6,745 yards, includes a par-3 seventh hole with an island green and a Mickey Mouse-inspired bunker that was added to the rear of the ninth green in 2018.
Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
A nine-hole walking course, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course is well-suited for families and casual golfers, especially those with time constraints. This course, originally only six holes and known as “The Wee Course”, was expanded in the 1990s by Ron Garl who designed the fifth, sixth and seventh holes to feature water hazards around a canal and pond. The course is conditioned to the level of Disney’s three championship courses with beautifully maintained fairways and rolling greens that are smooth and fast. The par-36 layout can be played from junior tees (1,713 yards) or close to 3,000 yards (including a 517-yard par-5) from the white tees.
Fun Facts About The Courses
• Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Vijay Singh, Payne Stewart, Davis Love III, Luke Donald, Larry Nelson, Hal Sutton, and Mark O’Meara have all won PGA TOUR events on Walt Disney World Resort Golf Courses
• Disney’s Palm Golf Course’s 18th hole has rated among the 10 toughest holes on the entire PGA TOUR four times since 1986
• Justin Rose shot the course record at Disney’s Palm Golf Course by scoring a 60 in the 1st round in 2006
Family Friendly Experiences
I had the opportunity to sit down with Alex Forsyth, Director of Sales and Marketing for Walt Disney World Golf and he shared that the experience at any of the courses is meant to be family fun. Sure, these are PGA caliber courses, especially The Palm, but that doesn’t mean they are exclusive to pros only
“We want to be accessible to everyone,” said Alex, “Our Guests arrive daily, excited for the experience they are about to have. No matter what they anticipate, we strive to meet and often exceed their expectations, providing them with a magical and memorable experience.”
Alex knows that their guests are looking for the Disney difference, and they certainly provide that, whether you are playing 18 holes on the Palm, walking 9 holes on Oak Trail or playing FootGolf with your family. Every person I came in contact with working on the course was nothing less than enthusiastic, and helpful.
When it comes to family fun, nothing encompasses that more than FootGolf. Oh my gosh, I had no idea what I was getting into and had the best time doing it. Anyone can play as it requires no experience other than your ability to kick a soccer ball. It’s that simple!
This game takes place on the beautiful 9-hole Oak Trail Course. As you walk the 9 holes you may encounter some of Central Florida’s wildlife. Turkeys, Armadillos, Deer, Ospreys and Hawks call this course home, as they are part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program which works hard to provide a healthy balance between economic advancement while maintaining and restoring wildlife habitats where they can live and flourish. We came across turkey and deer, I was on the hunt for armadillos, maybe next time.
My group was 6 not so athletic women, over 40, and we had the absolute BEST afternoon on the course. FootGolf is very relaxed, you can play it as best ball, as a team or individually. It’s really up to you and your family or friends.
FootGolf rules are similar to the rules of golf. FootGolf and golf can be played alongside each other on the same course and both types of play can exist harmoniously together. How to play is quite simple, you simply kick a regulation #5 soccer ball in as few shots as possible. It does require a little precision, as you want to stay on the green and toward the pin, but other than that, just have fun! You will kick off at the orange tee, I found that kicking straight out was the most accurate, as opposed to a traditional soccer kick where-in you run up to the ball.
Just like regular golf, you will need to make a tee time in advance with WDW Golf. A new round begins off the first tee every eight minutes, as you should finish a round of 9 holes in 90 minutes. FootGolf is available every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday after 2:30pm, subject to availability. Please also note that now, and for a limited time period, Walt Disney World® Golf is offering Complimentary same-day replay rounds of FootGolf! Inquire within the golf shop after the completion of your initial round of golf about the availability to replay at no additional charge.
The cost for a round is unbelievably low, depending on the season, it ranges from $20-$29 for adults, and 40% off that rate for Juniors age 18 and under. A family of 4 can play for as low at $64, tell me what else an entire family can do in Disney for that price. Talk about a HUGE value at Walt Disney World!
Grab your family and friends during your next Walt Disney World Vacation (or if you’re local, go anytime) and play a round of FootGolf at Disney’s Oak Trail Course. I can promise you, it will be some of the most fun you have had on turf.