I have been playing annually at Orange County for the last 20 or so years in concert with my attendance at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando each January. The course is not the typical Sunshine State layout whereby water is used to excess and where housing engulfs the course to the point of suffocation.
There's also a good degree of terrain movement -- not on a major scale -- but given the dead flat nature of what constitutes the majority of Florida it clearly makes for a difference when playing Panther Lake.
There's also plenty of movement in the routing so wind plays a varying role throughout the round.
The greens are where the magic of Panther Lake shines. They are quite varied with different locations to test the fullest range of players. Orange County has been the site for PGA TOUR qualifiers so the challenge of the course is certainly present.
The main issue -- as with many Florida courses -- is the over reliance on the air game. Florida turf is generally quite "spongy" so players will not reap anything close to meaningful bounces of the ball.
The best parts of any visit to Orange County comes with a superb practice area, a second course to enjoy and being away from the clutter and congestion that lies at the heart of Orlando for all those Disney bound.
by M. James Ward
Date: February 18, 2018