Duffer Dan – January 2007

Duffer Dan at Disney's Magnolia Golf Course

If you love golf as much as the Gang does and you either live in Central Florida or are visiting here on business or pleasure, you need to experience Mickey’s place. This is not ‘Goofy’ golf. In fact Disney boasts five championship courses right on their property and is the premier golf destination in Central Florida. So if you are staying here or nearby, take the time to get the royal treatment from the cast members at any one of the 18 hole layouts. The Gang chose the magnificent Magnolia, a 7516-yard Joe Lee design and the sight of the annual Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, which will be held in mid November in 2007. The course ’s name comes from the over 1500 fragrant Magnolia trees planted as early as 1970 when the track was developed.

Get directions before you go out, but once you find your way there, the experience is one to savor. We pulled up, had our clubs put on a golf car and given directions to check in. The guy at registration suggested a little warm up on the range. The extra large practice-putting surface is right out the back door. After hitting a few balls and wagering on some putts, we ventured over to #1, a 428-yard par 4. The group in front was quick, so there was no waiting once we got going. The fairways are nice and wide but there is water on 12 of the holes. There is GPS on all the golf cars so you don ’t have to go wandering around looking for yardage markers, plus the playing suggestions are comprehensive enough to play each hole if you have never played Magnolia before. Good scores prevailed on the first 2 holes but the Duffer doubled the par 3, 170 yard #3. I was able to recover on the next hole, a par 5, and the # 1 handicap hole, the par 4 fifth, which is 492 yards from the back tees. I was in the groove. Then came #8, the 614 yard 5 and I guess I got behind the 8 ball, because I scored a snowman. Go ahead and laugh, but remember revenge is sweet. Even with a wayward tee shot to the right and then across the fairway to the left, my approach shot to the green, on the longest par 4, 500 yards from the tips, was right of the pin. Did you hear that par putt drop! Sometimes it ’s good to play Army golf (right,left,right,left). The cart lady kept a close watch and visited us numerous times to keep our fluids full, which is necessary to play duffer golf. Number 9 brings you back to the clubhouse and the halfway house so you can get a light repast and more fluids if you know what I mean. The breeze picked up on the back nine, so sometimes we were playing with a favorable wind like on the par 5 #10 were we all scored well. A couple of birdies were had on #11. The par 3 #12 had a 3-club wind blowing at us, so 5 woods and 3 irons were are sticks of choice, and allowed for low scores again. If I had to pick my favorite side, it would have to be the back. Although there are great golf holes on both, I preferred the back, and so did the turkeys and an otter we saw around 16. With all the development that has gone on at Walt Disney World over the years, the courses are still part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.

When you play this course, you can feel its rich history where Jack Nicklaus won the first 3 championships and you can walk in his and current champion Joe Durant ’s footsteps. Teeing off on the par 4 #17th, landing past the water, the trees and the bunkers, it was time for the Duffer to show his stuff. Just a mere wedge shot to the green is all I needed and score another birdie. Eighteen is a great finishing hole, a 492-yard par 4, and you can feel the sense of accomplishment, I just wish a bogie was not final score.

To challenge all 99 holes of fabulous golf, go to www.DISNEYWORLDGOLF.com or call 407-WDW-GOLF.