|Previously known as the Legacy course, the Palmer layout at the 54-hole Reunion Spa & Golf Resort opened in 2004 and is set within an enormous 2,300-acre former citrus grove.|
My latest venture to Florida coincides with this year's PGA Merchandise Show and I had the opportunity to return to Reunion and see how things have fared. A new ownership group has seized the reins and it's clearly been a major investment of resources. Hats off to the new ownership given how things originally started under Bobby Ginn before going in a tailspin and now having been resurrected.
As I mentioned in my earlier review of the Palmer Course -- you have a few moments of note but, on the whole, the layout is simply formulaic with plenty of predictable features.
The opening hole is a good starter but then you get a lame par-3 like the 2nd which is just dull to the max. The bunkering pattern is also a hodge-podge -- some good and others clearly placed for the purposes of eye-candy impact. The waste areas are a good feature but they have really little impact and could have been used more effectively.
The par-5 3rd is a good driving hole but offers little in terms of the test for shotmaking on the 2nd and 3rd shots.
The 8th is a strong par-4 when the prevailing is one's face -- but the 9th is just a sorry excuse for a par-5 hole under the same wind pattern.
The 10th is strong par-5 but then you have to take a circuitous route to get to the 11th hole. The 13th is a fine par-4 but then you get the uninspiring short par-3 14th and the par-5 15th simply allows too much freedom for the bombers to take the reward with really little risk.
The 17th is simply adequate but fortunately the 18th does end the day in fine fashion.
The Palmer Course is just another rendition of what so many Palmer design are. The green contours are also vanilla -- few real bold movement that accentuate the need for quality approaches. As inspiring a player as Arnie was -- his design efforts often fall back on predictable offerings seen one too many times.
Hard to figure.
M. James Ward
Florida golf as a whole has never been a locale to excite my golf desires. The topography, with very few exceptions, is extremely limited and the desire to max out housing developments of all types and sizes has meant a steady stream of fairly formulaic layouts with heavy dosages of water on one side of holes and housing on the other.
Reunion is a mega facility just south of Orlando. There are three (3) 18-hole layouts and the Palmer is one of the three. The comments already posted highlight the key attributes. Ironically, as good a player as Arnie was his overall design record on the architectural side is far less so. Many of his layouts provided rudimentary designs bereft of anything more than formulaic outcomes. The Palmer Course at Reunion does have its moments and therefore the course is not completely aligned with so many of his other efforts.
The par-4 7th has been mentioned and I agree it's a fun short hole but the shaping and positioning of the bunkers could have been more uniquely created. It almost as if the design were taken from an office and fitted into the land with no real desire to make crucial adjustments as needed. Angling the greens and having narrower landing areas for approach shots works quite well but it's more the rarity than the rule.
The Palmer has enough challenge but not to the point where difficulty is maxed out to the extreme. There's sufficient hole variety and given the dearth of really exceptional golf in the greater Orlando area it's a satisfactory diversion for those needing somewhere to play with other amenities of the resort thrown into the mixture.
If you go there with your expectations in check you can likely enjoy what's provided but remember it's still Florida golf.
M. James Ward
The Palmer course at the Reunion Resort is not your typical Florida golf course. The bunkers are more penal than the water hazards. Additionally, the greens are huge and multi-tiered. The only straight putt I had all day was 3 feet.
The first hole is welcoming, a mid-length par 4, dogleg left. The green slopes hard left to right with a water hazard right of the green. The 2nd is short downhill par 3. It is at least one club less. For you big hitters the par 5 3rd is reachable. For the rest of us choose your approach wedge yardage carefully. There is a huge waste bunker running the entire length of the hole on the left. The 4th is a birdie oppty. Off the tee aim right of center. There is another large waste bunker on the left and the green is protected by a BAB on the left as well. The par 4 6th is a slight dogleg right with a waste bunker down the right side and fairway bunkers guarding the landing area on both sides of the elbow. The green is multi-tiered with greenside bunkers, right and left. The 7th is a really cool hole. A short, and when I say short, 303 from the tips and then 274 and 249. It is reachable but has all the characteristics of a great risk/reward hole. Carrying the water hazard should not be an issue, but the deep bunker on both sides of a roller coaster green may cause you to reconsider. In our group we had two drives on the front of the green and two in the right bunker. One par and three bogeys. The front closes out with a tough a tough par and par 5. The 8th is a slight dogleg right with a fairway bunker guarding the elbow and a waste bunker running down the right. The 9th has large waste bunkers running most of the way on both sides. The fairway is extremely mogulled.
The back starts with a long par 5 dogleg right. This is a three shot hole. You will be tempted to cut the corner. Not a lot of upside to do this. There is a large waste bunker and fairway bunker. This green is well protected. The 11th is a birdie oppty. Off the tee favor the right side to avoid the fairway bunker on the left. The par 4 12th has a huge landing area. Your approach needs to be precise, there is steep dropoff right and bunker left. The 13th is a tough par 4, slight dogleg left. Be careful you don’t cutoff more than you can chew, there is water left, but there is also a colony of bunkers on the right. The short par 3 14th is a birdie oppty. It is the closest thing to a Florida par 3 on this course. You must carry the water hazard and the prime Florida swampland. The 15th is reachable in two if you have the courage to carry more swamp. A good risk reward where you can see the hazard and pick how aggressive, or not, you want to be. The 17th is another birdie oppty. Short dogleg left with waste and fairway bunker down the left side. I would suggest aiming at the large tree through the fairway favoring the left side. Not a good hole to hit driver. The 18th is a wonderful finishing hole. A demanding par 4 with a waste bunker all the way down the right side. Take an extra club on your approach as the green is elevated, two tiered and surrounded by bunkers.
Of the 3 courses at Reunion I would rate them Watson, Palmer, Nicklaus. This is a good, fair, fun test of golf.