Orlando, FL is known for great golf and great golf courses. Shingle Creek often gets drowned out by the other giants in the area, but it is certainly worth a look if you are in town.
When Shingle Creek opened in 2003 it was a little bit of a benign layout and had yet to gain the popularity it has today. In 2016, it spent a better part of the year undergoing a full redesign by Arnold Palmer Design Co. There were holes added and removed, all of the bunkers were redone, and the greens were all rebuilt to add more undulation and TifEagle grass.
Shingle Creek plays to a par of 72 with the standard mix of four par 3’s, four par 5’s, and ten par 4’s. It maxes out at 7,200 yards (black), but has tees at 6,800 (gold), 6,200 (blue), 5,800 (silver), and 5,200 (ivory) respectively. The Brad Brewer Golf Academy resides at the back of the driving range and has a full range of golf improvement options. Brad is perpetually in the Golf Digest Top 100 Instructors list.
My wife and I played here with a business partner recently and these are our notes from the experience.
From the moment we turned into the property we knew we were in for a fun day. There is a manned gate with a pleasant guard who let us in after confirming our tee time. As we pulled up to the clubhouse we were greeted by the outside services staff and they assisted with our clubs and got us loaded up on our golf cart. After parking, we cruised into the clubhouse to get checked in. The golf shop is nice and had everything we needed for the day (and a few things we didn’t need, but we love to shop).
Check-in took only a few minutes and we were on our way out the door and into our cart. We headed down the hill and checked in with the starter, Mike. He got us oriented with all the information we needed for the day and directed us to the driving range.
Range balls were included with our round so we got in a nice warmup. The range is spacious and the balls were unlimited (which was needed after a long night prior). The short game practice area is huge with a chipping and putting green that allows you to practice any type of chip or putt you can dream up.
Once our tee time got near Mike gave a quick reminder and helped us get to the first tee. We arrived quickly as it is literally a stone’s throw from the practice area and we got there in time to see the group prior tee off. It was helpful for us to see where to aim for that nervous first tee shot (you know the one).
The first two holes really show you what you are up against for the round. The first hole requires a good tee shot down the left side of the fairway, but be careful about over drawing the ball because there is water to the left. A large flat green awaits you, but don’t get comfortable. It is one of the only flat greens on the course. The second hole is a fun par 5 with a waste bunker left and water right off the tee. The approach is narrow and the two-tiered green forces good distance control. I hit the back of the green and had to putt back down the hill and ended up ten yards off the green (sad face).
It doesn’t get any easier from there, but don’t let the course difficulty keep you from looking around and enjoying the view. There are tons of beautiful looks around the course and a simple gaze over the hole you are playing will show you just what Arnold Palmer was capable of. It really is a cool design.
We played on a busy day so the pace of play was a bit slow and we didn’t see any staff on course moving things along. We did, however, find the beverage cart 3 different times during the round. We enjoyed a couple drinks and a bite to eat and the cart had a good variety of beers and snacks.
For me the course played very consistently and I didn’t notice any different feel from the front nine to the back nine. The greens played to the same conditions as the practice area which is always nice. The wind wasn’t noticeable until I got my ball above the tree line. There are lots of trees around the course and it is hard to tell wind direction in some places until it’s too late. Pay attention.
When we finished the round we parked our cart and the outside staff helped us get our clubs unloaded, cleaned them up for us, and made sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Polite and professional, we were happy to have them there. We didn’t eat on property after the round because they had just reopened the resort from the pandemic restrictions and they were quite busy.
Overall, it was a great day and an enjoyable round. My wife and I frequent the Orlando area and we will play here again soon. Cheers!