Understated elegance begins with the curbside valet service at Orlando’s Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, where everything from pro-shop to practice facility is so conveniently located that you can have a club in your hand within minutes of arrival. That is if you don’t want to sit on the upper level deck and ponder the day of golf first, while watching others practice below you.
A group from amateurgolf.com played the Rees Jones designed layout and found it to be uncrowded, in perfect condition, and challenging enough from the 6650 yard blue tees to allow us to check our egos and not torture ourselves from the 7200 yard blacks. In fact, “playing it forward” really starts to make sense when you play a course like the Waldorf, where Jones' main “weapon-of-score-destruction” is bunkering both off the tee and around the small, sloping greens. (The good news is that the fairway bunkers for the most part give the skilled golfer a fair shot at the green.)
There is plenty of water at the Waldorf as well, but it’s fairly easy to steer clear of. No forced carry par 3’s, just waterways such as the one that borders the right side of the third hole, a par-4 called Terrapin Station where we indeed saw a few turtles. That water, plus a well placed bunker down the right side make it one of the best driving holes on the front nine.
On the back, a lake comes into play on several holes, and really gives things a different feel. The 13th hole is a drivable par-4 that looks fairly straightforward until you realize that the distance between the lake on the left and the perfectly-placed (and big) bunker on the right is about 50 feet. I drove it in that greenside bunker and walked away with a smooth bogey.
Even from the blue tees, there are two par 4s playing at almost 450 yards, including the 17th, which requires precision off the tee, and a solid mid-long iron shot into a huge green with slopes over and to the left the will leave really tough pitch shots to those who miss there.
Alas, the under-500 yard 18th is a very reachable par-5 that should leave everyone smiling. Avoid the woods on the left and fairway bunker on the right off the tee and you could be hitting the green in two and putting for eagle. And then enjoy that terrace again.