For the 40th straight year, many of the best golfers in the world descended on Walt Disney World to spend at least part of their family vacation playing in a PGA Tour event.  Beginning in 1971 as the Walt Disney World Invitational, now the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, the Disney-hosted tournament was played on Disney’s Palm and Magnolia courses from November 11th through the 14th.  Not surprisingly, the tournament is popular among professional golfers with families.

Golf has been a part of Walt Disney World from the very beginning.  Today an entire Disney vacation could be planned around golf.  And Disney resort guests and Vacation Club members are offered discounts and “extras” making the Disney golf experience both affordable and unforgettable.

Any discussion of Disney golf, however, must begin with the courses themselves.  There are five courses on property—four 18-hole championship level courses and one 9-hole “walking course.”  In addition to the Palm and Magnolia, Disney boasts the Osprey Ridge and Lake Buena Vista tracks.  Both Osprey Ridge and Lake Buena Vista are worthy tests for any level golfer, but Palm and Magnolia are, without question, the crown jewels of Disney golf.

The Palm and Magnolia courses offer golfers very different experiences.  The Palm is arguably the more scenic of the two, while the Magnolia is longer and meaner and provides a more traditional championship golf experience.  More importantly, the Magnolia’s 6th hole is home to the famous “Mickey bunker,” fittingly named the “The Mouse Trap” by those who have struggled to escape its grasp.  Both courses wend around undisturbed Disney property allowing a view of the land as Walt, himself, would have seen when he was purchasing the land for his masterpiece.

One of the most magical and unexpected Disney golf experiences comes from the sheer proximity of Magnolia to the Magic Kingdom.  At various points on the Magnolia course, the unmistakable “toot” from a Magic Kingdom steam locomotive breaks the usual golf course silence.  It is a pleasant reminder that you are in a very special place.

Magnolia’s 17th hole, located across the street from and directly between the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts, is less than one mile from the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.  From there, the sound of the locomotive whistle rivals the sound you would hear standing in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.

I prefer to play the Magnolia early in my vacation, well-before my first visit to the Magic Kingdom.  The anticipation created by spending four hours listening to that whistle is both exhilarating and unbearable.

But Disney golf is about so much more than creating expectations.  It is about, well, playing golf.  And the golf experience at Disney is extraordinary.  Several travel and golf publications have designated the Disney courses as among the finest resort courses in the world.  These designations are based not only on the impeccable conditioning and playability of the courses themselves, but on the total golf experience.  Golf cast members, many who have migrated from colder climates to enjoy year-round golf themselves, are among the most pleasant and approachable on property.

Disney courses are public, meaning you do not have to be a resort guest to play.  Staying in a Disney resort, however, entitles you to several real advantages over non-resort guests.  Disney resort guests are eligible for reduced green fees (as much as 25% depending on the season), complimentary range balls and free golf club rental.  With airlines charging as much as $30 per bag, these perks could save a golfer more than $50 per round.  Additionally, resort guests are given free taxi transportation to and from their Disney resort.

Disney Vacation Club members can purchase a DVC Golf Membership for $50 per year and receive additional benefits like exclusive DVC Member Golf Clinics, 20% savings on private golf lessons and up to a 40% discount off regular green fee rates.  Even better, you get a really cool bag tag with your name and the designation that you are a Disney Vacation Club golf member.

Like everything else at Walt Disney World, Disney golf is “plussed” in ways that bring a smile to my face, and bring me back time after time.  Now, if I could just stay out of that darned Mickey Bunker…

Contributed by: John M. (NDD #172). John is our resident DVC expert.

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