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Golf in Orlando: Playing Links-Style at the Royal St. Cloud - Unpretentious Golf at its Best


by Susanne Pacher

For a real links-style golf experience we discovered the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links, located in St. Cloud, about 25 minutes southeast of the Orlando airport or the Disney area. The Royal St. Cloud Links greet you with a rolling layout of links-style fairways, punctuated by classic links bunkers that feature names such as Hell, Spectacles, Devil's Pocket and Hoofprint. True to its link heritage, every club in the bag will be utilized as the terrain is naturally varied.

Unlike other Orlando golf courses, the Royal St. Cloud is free of any residential developments and offers a pure golf experience. The design features four sets of tees and from the blue tee offers a championship length of 7,111 yards and a 74.6 rating, all on flawless fairways and silky-smooth Tifeagle greens.

Its motto, as printed above the entrance to the club house is "Original Golf Played Here", and indeed the Royal St. Cloud features original style golf at its unpretentious best. I had a chance to talk to Bill Filson, the Director of Golf and since 2002 co-owner of this facility.

Bill has an extensive teaching background. He has personally studied under some of the top-ranked teaching professionals and brings 12 years of teaching experience that featured beginners to PGA tour professionals. Bill has consistently been a top-ranked PGA Professional. The Royal St. Cloud's teaching staff is complemented by Dave Rummels who brings 17 years of valuable PGA Tour experience with him and can share advice from the "Tour" with the students. Associate Professional, Doug Holloway, has 16 years coaching experience.

At the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links the commitment to teaching the game of golf commitment includes state-of-the art video equipment and even a teaching tent for inclement weather. Lessons, programs, and clinics are offered for every skill level and requirement. Bill explained that they run very reasonably priced children's clinics at $7.00 per clinic and the club has 120 members in their junior program. Ladies can also learn the sport without embarrassment in a relaxed, comfortable environment. And with every family membership at the club kids play for free.

Bill prides himself on offering one of the greatest values in golf in the Orlando area. For the 2005-2006 season rates vary from $46 to $48 from November 1 to January 10, and $64 from January 11 to April 30, 2006. Discounted tee time rates are available after 11 am or 12 pm respectively, 7 days/week. Bill went on to say that the fees at the Royal St. Cloud are always reasonable, and that he aims not to oversell his course, but to exceed the visitors' expectations.

In addition, he offers a very unique proposition: a 100% money-back guarantee with no conditions if you didn't enjoy your playing experience at the Royal St. Clouds. He said in the almost three years since he has run this course only 2 people ever asked for a refund; a phenomenal achievement, considering that several tens of thousands of rounds are played here every year.

One of the very unique features of this course is the handcrafted stonework which is evident in four bridges found throughout the course that have been hand-built by one individual brick by brick. Bill said that some of the bridges are even a little bit crooked, just to give them more character. The most famous stone bridge can be found on the 5th hole and many of the British visitors to this golf course come here specifically for this unique feature.

Bill explained that his golf course serves a value-based market that is composed of local residents, snowbirds escaping the cold northern winters, and British golfers, a very loyal crowd who refer this facility to many of their friends back home.

The Royal St. Cloud Golf Links have been rated as one of the Top 5 Most Underrated Golf Courses in the Orlando area and they have hosted the 2004 and 2005 British Junior Amateur. With its wide-open fairways the course looks deceptively simple, however, I experienced very quickly the unique challenges offered by the Royal St. Cloud. Traditional links golf is played on the ground, unfortunately I still managed to find water several times, despite the generously open fairways.

Wood stork at the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links

The other feature I really enjoyed were a number of the ponds on the back nine of the course that were playing host to a variety of local wildlife and water birds. I particularly enjoyed watching a very rare specimen of wood stork stalking the edges of a pond for food, and a crane standing upright with stretched out wings. The course had a very relaxed, casual and friendly feel to it and we enjoyed a tasty hot dog after our game on the beautiful patio outside the clubhouse as a way to cap off a very enjoyable golf experience on a gorgeous day.

A crane stretches its wings

Driving Directions from the Disney Area: Royal St. Cloud Golf Links is an easy 25 miles from the Disney area. (25-35 minute approximate drive time) * Take Osceola Parkway to the Florida Turnpike * Take Exit 244 to Hwy 192, turn left. * Go 4.6 miles to Vermont Ave, turn right. * Take Vermont 2.1 miles to Creek Woods Road, take a left. * Go only .7 miles to Michigan Ave, take a right directly into the Golf Club.

Statistics Par 72 Yards Rating Slope Blue 7111 74.6 128 Gold 6680 72.2 125 Green 6083 69.2 115 Citrus 5531 66.6 111

For more information please visit Royal St. Cloud Golf Links website or call them at (407) 891-7010.

About the Author
Susanne Pacher is the publisher of http://www.travelandtransitions.com. It deals with travel to foreign countries and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers, insights, cross-cultural issues, and many other features. Participate in our travel story contest http://www.travelandtransitions.com/contests.htm and win great prizes, a fabulous cruise to the Amazon. Life is a Journey - Explore New Horizons.





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