6100 Payne Stewart Drive,
- +1 407 909 2000
10 miles NW of Orlando International Airport
Members and their guests only
Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay (1986), Steve Smyers (2003)
Isleworth is located in 600 tranquil acres near to Windermere in the heart of the lakes, which lie in profusion a few miles to the southwest of downtown Orlando. You’ll find Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill a mile or so to the southeast and it was The King and his partner Ed Seay who originally designed the course at Isleworth Golf & Country Club.
Opening for play in 1986, the course at Isleworth is the centrepiece for one of the nation’s premier residential communities and home to a plethora of famous golfing names. Steve Smyers completed a multimillion-dollar course redesign in 2004, which resulted in a tougher, longer and considerably more interesting layout.
Luxurious houses line a number of the lush and manicured Isleworth fairways where you’ll find many of the world’s top players honing their skills. The course can be stretched to 7,544 yards from the tips, which are generally left for a selection of Tour Pros who come together to contest the annual Tavistock Cup, a charity match billed as “the ultimate showdown to determine the World Golf and Country Club Champion.”
The inaugural, televised Tavistock Cup event started in 2004 as a match between Isleworth and Lake Nona but, in 2011, two other clubs that also enjoy an unrivalled depth of professional talent, joined the party. The Bahamian Albany came second in the 2011 matches while England’s Queenwood could only pick up the wooden spoon while watching Lake Nona lift their fourth World Golf and Country Club Championship title on Isleworth’s home turf.
The Hero World Challenge was hosted at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in 2014 for a single season when Jordan Speith destroyed the field winning the event by 10 strokes.
Isleworth is tough to get on, but tougher to play. As we pulled in, I said, “Guys, we need to be on our best behavior.” Isleworth was founded in 1986, and one of the founding members was Arnold Palmer. It is infamous for Tiger Woods’ fall from grace. One interesting (peculiar) feature of Isleworth is the collection of random sculptures across the premises. As an art heathen, I do not have the expertise to critique or pass judgment, but there did appear to be a multitude of Raphaelesque statues of women. One statue that I did recognize was “Charging Bull.” One of the more bizarre statues is between 10 and 11, it is probably ten feet tall, and it portrays a hand with a thumbs up. Some things defy explanation; it certainly wasn’t an acknowledgement of our quality of play.
Back to what is important. Isleworth is lllllloooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggggg. Do not, I repeat, do not play from the Tiger tees. Additionally, the fairway yardage markers are to the front of the green. I, for one, do not understand why golf does not standardize, either to the front or the middle. As we all should be concerned with pace of play, this seems to be an easy solution. Isleworth is relentless. I hit the ball pretty good, and I got tired of hitting a driver and then five wood. The highlight of the day was probably on 11. It appeared to be a relatively benign short par three over water. Well, after Vince, Peter and I hit the ball in the water, Mark was ecstatic when his tee shot landed on the green. We all made the walk of shame to the drop area and Vince chipped in for a par! Mark felt the pressure and sure enough, he three jacked. Mark did have the last laugh. He was a big hitter and he had a huge advantage, as he was actually hitting irons to greens. I believe he shot a 92 and the rest of us came in at 99. I had to sink a thirteen-footer on 18 to do that.
Isleworth is always immaculately groomed and ready to impress aesthetically! The course can play long depending on the tee's that you choose. It is very generous off the tee and really plays as a second shot type of course. If you can control your approach shots then you will have a good chance at scoring. The greens are usually fast and undulating but true. The experience of playing here is truly first class!