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Course Source: Eagles Dunes Golf Club

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IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Eagles Dunes Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla.

THE LAYOUT: Located only 23 miles north of Orlando, Eagles Dunes is unlike many courses in Central Florida that were carved out of the native wetlands. This is a sprawling course with a links feel built on rolling terrain amid large sand dunes in Lake County ranchland.

Mike Dasher, who helped design more than 40 courses around the world with the renowned firm of Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates before establishing Dasher Golf Designs in 1997 in nearby Winter Park, Fla., crafted this challenging country layout that opened in 2003.

The course plays to 7,024 yards from the championship tees, with a USGA rating of 73.7 and a slope of 131. The course is challenging from the tips, but four sets of tees and the wide fairways make it playable for golfers of all abilities.

Water hazards come into play in varying degrees on the first three holes plus the 10th hole. Par is protected at Eagle Dunes by the huge waste areas and bunker complexes on nearly every hole, and there usually is at least a slight breeze to factor into the equation.

The exceptionally large TifEagle Bermuda greens are considered among the best in Central Florida, and in true links style, golfers can bounce the ball onto most of the putting surfaces. Wild, native grasses only enhance the Scottish look.

HEAD PRO: Allen Self.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Chris DiMarco, who lives not far away in Lake Mary, Fla., dropped by a few weeks after opening day in 2003 and shot a course-record 9-under-par 63 at Eagle Dunes that is expected to stand up for a while.

The temporary clubhouse, where the permanent one eventually will be located, sits on a hill and gives the golfer an overall view of the course before he starts.

After having a chance for birdie on the par-5, 520-yard downhill first hole -- a sweeping dogleg right -- the golfer runs into two monster par 4s in the first five holes.

No. 2 is the most difficult on the card, 463 yards with a large wetlands area down the left side and a waste area on the right, to a tight green area that is protected by water on the left.

The fifth hole is a 442-yard par 4 that generally plays into the wind, and is rated No. 3 in difficulty on the card, with bunkers in the driving area and surrounding the green.

There are not many trees at Eagle Dunes, but the last 100 yards of the 366-yard sixth hole play uphill through a corridor of tall pines that make this perhaps the prettiest hole on the course.

The back nine starts with a hole that plays dramatically downhill, 437 yards, with a large lake on the left ready to swallow any tee shot that heads that way or an approach shot that comes up short of the wide, shallow green.

No. 12 is another difficult par 4 at 458 yards, with sand and native areas all along the way to the green, and the 16th hole is a daunting par 3 at 208 yards, with the wind making club selection vital.

The 546-yard 18th hole is considered the most difficult on the back side and makes for a big finish, especially when it plays into the wind, since the elevated green requires a nearly blind approach shot up a steep hill.

Eagle Dunes is considered one of the best public courses in the region, but play it while you can because like the Bay Hill Club and Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, which were public when they opened, it is expected to be privatized sometime in the future.

OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Only a few miles from Eagle Dunes is Black Bear Golf Club, a 7,002-yard P.B. Dye layout that opened in 1995. It features a 19th, or shootout hole, for golfers who want a little more after 18.

Also minutes away is Mission Inn Resort and Club at Howey-in-the-Hills, which hosts several college golf events every year on 36 holes of championship golf. El Campeon Course, a classic layout that opened in 1926, was designed by Charles E. Clarke of Troon, Scotland. The Las Colinas Course, designed by PGA Tour player and TV commentator Gary Koch, opened in 1992.

Other courses in Lake County include Nancy Lopez Legacy Golf and Country Club in Lady Lake, the Country Club of Mt. Dora, Cranes Roost at Plantation in Leesburg, Green Valley Country Club in Clermont, Deer Island Golf and Lake Club in Tavares, the Diamond Players Club in Clermont, Mt. Dora Golf Club, Mt. Plymouth Golf Club and Monarch Golf Club at Royal Highlands in Leesburg.

Among the many courses in the Orlando area are the five Disney courses in Lake Buena Vista, Celebration Golf Club, Royal St. Cloud Golf Links, Kissimmee Bay Country Club, Falcon's Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee, Hawk's Landing Golf Club at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Mystic Dunes Golf Club in Kissimmee, the Crooked Cat and Panther Lake courses at Orange County National Golf Center in Orlando, and 45 holes at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando.

ChampionsGate Golf Club, designed by Greg Norman, is located just west of Orlando, and Reunion Golf Club, with courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, in Reunion, is another new development west of Orlando off Interstate 4.

WHERE TO STAY: Sorrento is located about eight miles from the quaint, touristy town of Mt. Dora, where the Lakeside Inn has been greeting guests since 1883. There also are numerous bed-and-breakfast establishments in the area.

Mission Inn Resort and Club is an award-winning destination resort only 35 miles from Orlando on the shores of Lake Harris.

You also might want to stay in the Orlando area and make a day trip to Eagle Dunes. Guests at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Resort, Caribbean Resort, Beach Club Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Inn and Yacht Club Resort receive vouchers for free cab rides to and from the five Disney courses.

Also nearby are the Celebration Hotel, Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge, the Grand Cypress Resort and the Orlando World Marriott Hotel, the largest property in that worldwide chain.

ON THE WEB: www.eagledunes.com

THE LAST RESORT: Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

THE LAYOUT: Disney's 81 holes of golf are inhabited by all sorts of critters, and we're not talking about Mickey Mouse and his pals in the Magic Kingdom.

Disney's five courses -- the Magnolia, the Palm, Osprey Ridge, Lake Buena Vista and Oak Trail, a nine-hole walking course -- are all nature preserves inhabited by alligators, wild boar, turkeys, deer, armadillos, bobcats, snakes, turtles and even the rare and endangered Florida panthers. There are bald eagles, hawks, cranes and countless other species of tropical birds.

The Magnolia, Palm and Oak Trail are located at the Shades of Green Resort, which caters to military personnel and their families, opposite the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, while Osprey Ridge is close to Epcot. Lake Buena Vista is in the Downtown Disney area.

DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Lee Rawls.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: The Magnolia and Palm courses opened in 1971, and the Lake Buena Vista course followed a year later. All are traditional layouts designed by Joe Lee and have been used in what started as the PGA Tour's Walt Disney World Classic in 1971.

The tournament, now known as the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, is the final event of the Fall Series and will be played this week on the Magnolia and Palm courses.

Jack Nicklaus must have liked Lee's work because he won the tournament the first three times it was played. Tiger Woods, who lived nearby in Isleworth before moving south to Jupiter, Fla., last year, has won the tournament twice.

Osprey Ridge, designed by Tom Fazio, is a resort layout that opened in 1991.

The Magnolia, longest of the Disney layouts at 7,190 yards, encourages golfers to let it rip off the tee because of its wide fairways. But beware of the 97 bunkers, including the famous "Mousetrap," shaped in the profile of Mickey on the sixth hole, and the water that comes into play on 11 holes.

The Palm Course is a classic, with elevated tees and greens, wandering through the Florida woodlands, with water coming into play on nine holes.

Lake Buena Vista, situated in a classic country club setting, is the shortest of the Disney courses at 6,819 yards, but it is challenging enough to have hosted PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and United States Golf Association events. The sixth hole has an island green similar to TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship.

Osprey Ridge winds for 7,101 yards from the back tees through dense vegetation, oak forests and mossy hammocks. It offers the best finish at Disney and one of the finest in Florida -- the 479-yard 16th, the 210-yard 17th and the 429-yard 18th.

OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Celebration Golf Course is not on Disney Resort property, but is a nearby cousin designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. in the town of the same name built by the Disney Corporation.

Also in the neighborhood are Royal St. Cloud Golf Club, Kissimmee Bay Country Club, Mystic Dunes Golf Club and Falcon's Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee, Hawk's Landing Golf Club at the World Center Marriott, the Crooked Cat and Panther Lake courses at Orange County National Golf Center, and 45 holes at the Grand Cypress Resort, all in Orlando; ChampionsGate Golf Club, designed by Greg Norman, a few miles west of Orlando, and Reunion Golf Club, with courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, in Kissimmee, another development west of Orlando on Interstate 4.

WHERE TO STAY: Guests at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Resort, Caribbean Resort, Beach Club Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Inn and Yacht Club Resort receive vouchers for free cab rides to and from the golf courses.

Also nearby are the Celebration Hotel, Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge, the Grand Cypress Resort and the Orlando World Marriott Hotel, the largest property in that worldwide chain.

ON THE WEB: www.disneygolf.com
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