What differentiates No. 5 at the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club from the other 17 holes? It’s the only one where there’s no conceivable way of hitting it into the water. Although Florida golf is renowned for having more ponds than most, Orchid Island certainly has an excuse: It’s one of the only golf courses in Florida that has been constructed on one of the state’s barrier islands. The task involved following tight regulations for protecting the habitat (it’s an Audubon-certified sanctuary course) and, of course, ample negotiation of water.
The ponds that the fairways and greens wrap around may remind many of another Florida course — Bay Hill — and that’s appropriate, as this too is an Arnold Palmer design.
Although open to the general public, Orchid Island was constructed primarily for the use of residents on the island, and Palmer offers a tee box for everyone: There are no fewer than nine options on the scorecard, measuring from less than 5,000 yards to more than 7,100. As suggested above, however, conquering Orchid Island is more about accuracy than distance.