Teeing Off at Disney: Golf at Walt Disney World

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 05-31-2012

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Making Magic

No doubt there are still many untried things left for us to do at Walt Disney World, but for some bizarre reason, I was determined that golfing would not be one of those.

I say it was bizarre, as I've never actually played a round of golf in my life. I've sampled both the miniature golf facilities at Walt Disney World, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, although in fairness, I wasn’t particularly good at either of them. Getting a hole in one was a major achievement, so what on earth possessed me to head for one of the Disney golf courses on a hot morning is still slightly beyond me...

Golf - water traps photo
Golf - water traps

Water traps around the Oak Trail golf course.

I thought that it would be fairly easy, once I got the hang of it, but of course, that's why the professionals get paid so handsomely, because it's not an easy game at all, and takes many, many years to master. So, how did this total golf amateur fare?

We made a booking for Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course, as it's a nine-hole walking course, and ranked as the easiest of the courses at Walt Disney World. However, that's not saying much, given the difficulty of the others. Disney does say that this course is aimed at families and those with less experience, a category into which we fit very nicely. We certainly had an interesting experience with it.

We used our Disney Vacation Club member discount, which made our booking very cheap, something like only $20 each, although as we were soon to learn, there would be other costs. We managed to avoid the membership cost of $50, as it hadn't been explained to us on the phone that this would apply, but generally you can expect to pay this as well. By the time we'd added on the golf balls and the rental of two sets of clubs, the bill for the two of us was up to $105, not as cheap as we'd first thought.

After settling our fees and obtaining our gear, we headed to the club's changing rooms. These were lovely, decorated with photos of everyone who's ever won the Children's Miracle Network Classic, held yearly at Walt Disney World, As we left the club house, we were feeling very nervous. Everyone around us seemed to be acting very cool, and gave the impression that they were regulars out on the green. It was a bit intimidating, and it didn't help that the family of four in front of us were all outfitted in proper golf attire. They looked as if they knew what they were doing. Fortunately, it soon became apparent that they weren’t actually that good, which helped to relax us a little bit.

Sadly, neither were we, or should I say I. I got as far as being able to hit the ball, which was something, and more than I expected, but getting the ball to go as far as it needed to proved to be more of a challenge. After 10 shots at both the first and second holes, I had hoped that I would start to get the hang of things, but as we progressed around the course, so did the level of difficulty of each hole. I wasn't just staying static, I was actually getting worse with each passing hole, needing 14 strokes at the fourth hole. It didn't matter how many pointers other people gave me, nothing seemed to work. I guess this golfing lark just isn't for me.

However, for my husband, it was a different matter, and he was slowly starting to find his feet with every passing stroke. It's just as well that we had earlier paired up with the father-and-son team behind us, as at least when I gracefully gave up, Mark still had someone to compete against. By the last hole, my husband was delighted to be able to make the par three hole in the intended three strokes, a real victory indeed for his first ever proper golf game! As we'd gone round the nine holes, I'd been amazed by how difficult they all were, with water hazards thrown in just to make things even more complex. At one particular hole, we were very glad we'd bought so many golf balls, as a fair few ended up just a little on the wet side, and with the threat of alligators around, we weren't about to attempt to fish them out!

The morning turned out to be blistering hot, meaning that we were getting more and more tired as we went around the course. There was a huge amount of walking, much more than I'd anticipated, and although there were occasional benches and watering stations, it was nowhere near as many as I'd hoped for. I guess it's not usual for people to take breaks as often as I did!

There were some unexpected benefits to the walk, as it turned out. I was fascinated to see wildlife along the course, including what looked like turkeys. Not what I thought I'd see by the putting green!

Something else to think about is the heat. We were admittedly in Florida during a heat wave that was regularly sapping our energy, and the round took us a good couple of hours. Even though we started reasonably early, by the end we were nearing the midday sun, and were melting. There isn't much shade out on the golf course for sanctuary, so that’s something to keep in mind; if you're likely to burn, be sure to wear lots of high SPF suntan lotion.

All in all, I have to be honest, this course is still intimidating, even if it is the choice for families and beginners. I think, had I known what I discovered that morning, I wouldn't have attempted any holes. I somehow thought that golf, like everything else at Disney, would be magical. Now, don't get me wrong, it was a stunningly beautiful course, but there was just something about the people on the course. I felt very out of place, and I imagined people kept looking at me, wondering what I was doing there. For that matter, so did I! I'm sure that wasn't true, and a lot of that was down to my appalling play, and lack of confidence, but in all honesty, it's not something I'd recommend for a novice. You're best sticking to the wonderful miniature golf courses instead.

If that hasn't put you off, then it's worth knowing that you'll have to wear either tennis shoes, or golf shoes without spikes. You also have to wear proper golf attire, which is a polo shirt with a collar, turtleneck, or mock turtleneck shirt; and pants or cropped pants for men. For women, it's either a polo shirt with a collar or a suitable shirt or blouse, either with or without collar; with pants, skirt, or cropped pants. Shorts are not acceptable.

Although Disney will do their best to accommodate you, like they did with us, if you just call up to make a booking while you're on your vacation. You can also book up to 90 days ahead, either by calling 407-938-4653 or by visiting http://www.disneyworldgolf.com. Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course is located at the Shades of Green Resort, near the Magic Kingdom.

Golf - putting green photo
Golf - putting green

On the putting green, trying to get that elusive final shot!

About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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Updated 05-31-2012 - Article #810 

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