Orlando Offers so Much To Do
by Scott A. Sumner
The snow was falling, temperatures were cool and we had new direct jet service with United from Thunder Bay to Chicago. It seemed like a good opportunity for me to travel to Orlando, see the Arnold Palmer Invitation PGA Tour event and Tiger Woods as well as play some golf and check out Disney! The new United service to Chicago is really good for Thunder Bay as it offers a much quicker gateway to the US than we have had for awhile. You leave here at 6am and arrive in Chicago’s O’Hare airport at 6:30 am when this large airport isn’t totally busy- which makes for easy movement in the terminal. It even gave me time to have breakfast at McDonald’s, which is where the iconic fast food brand began. My flight to Orlando landed at 1pm and I was off to start this adventure.
My first stop in Orlando was to the famed Bay Hill course owned by Arnold Palmer. Ironically as soon as I hit the media centre Arnold had just begun his press conference event. It was fun to see him up close and personal and hear his comments on the game today from the perspective of a golf icon! Some of the thoughts of Arnold Palmer. “ I give Tiger the chance to get the record of 18 majors but he will have to keep himself up mentally and physically. I think Tiger can beat the overall record of 82 wins as well. “ “ In the 1960’s I had a wooden club and it was totally different than it is today. I am still playing golf now because of the equipment coming out on the market. The game will change and continue to advance. I would like to see them slow the ball down. Somewhere you will run out of room and the golf courses will not be able to handle it.” “ The Masters starts our year and is the highlite of our year. We do need to take a look at the international aspects of golf and we may see other events come along.”
After a quick lunch I made my way to the range to see my golf hero, Tiger Woods, warming up. Tiger was the subject of most of the fan attention and watching him all week win the event was fun.
The theme parks of Orlando always interest me because of their magnitude and the large numbers of people there enjoying themselves. This time in Orlando it was a treat to spend time at Disney at their Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Disney is a must visit for everyone while in Orlando. As a Canadian you just have to play golf when you are down south during our winter months. It was great to play the Shingle Creek Golf Club during my trip. Shingle Creek Golf Club at Rosen is a large hotel property of over 1500 rooms, 450,000 square feet of convention space , 8 places to eat on property, pools, a spa and fitness centre and golf academy. It is largely a convention hotel but they do a lot of leisure business on the weekends and this time of year have many golf packages because of the weather in Canada.
“ We opened December 1st, 2003 and were designed by David Harman who was at one time the lead designer for Arnold Palmer. He has also done courses in the area such as Orange Country National and Red Tail,” said David Scott, Director of Golf at Shingle Creek Golf Club. “ We are 10 minutes from the airport, 1 mile from the 2 million square foot Orange County Convention Centre, within a mile of Universal Studios, 3 miles away from Seaworld as well as 15 to 20 minutes from Disney. There are 50,000 hotel rooms right in this area.” “ The Bay Hill week is the busiest of the year for us with the PGA Equipment Week a close second. We have a local program where you can join and get discounted fees, food and beverage and get a lot of convention and non resident business,” said Scott. “ I like the course conditions here number 1. The course has matured. It isn’t very hilly, sort of Doralish without the palm trees but with big greens and a lot of water and sand. We have 5 sets of tees you can play from 5800 yards to 7200 yards. The fairways are generally wide so if you can get the ball in the fairway you can reach the green.”
In the summer the green fees at Shingle Creek can get down to $75 and include cart and range balls. This time of the year it is $135. They do about 48,000 rounds paid which is pretty good in this market as there are way too many golf courses in Orlando according to Scott. “ Our location and course conditions along with our hotel mean we do OK. We can get some pretty nice weather in January. Cold for us is a high of 60 degrees. In the summer time you can do a stay and play package for $159 per night which includes 1 room accommodation and two rounds of golf. It is hot in the summer in the low 90’s but very humid. Some people like the heat such as the UK people. The morning starts may still be good then. We’d love to have you play and stay at our property” said David Scott. Orlando was a fun destination for me. There are lots of activities for all ages here and it is a great winter getaway from the winter time in Canada!