When you visit Orlando, there are a lot of golf courses to choose from. Since the area really does not have a slow season, most courses charge nearly as much to play in the summer as they do should you drop by during the winter.
Since I'm always on the lookout for a good deal and wanting a sampling of good golf, I looked a little beyond my usual stops. My quest took me to Providence Golf Club in Davenport, a few miles south of Kissimmee just off U.S. Highway 17-92. Anyone playing a round at one of the resort courses should consider saving a few dollars and playing here instead or adding it to their menu.
Providence Golf Club sits at the very east end of one of the area's newer developments, and right up against protected wetlands. The front nine has a smattering of homes, while the back nine is beautifully void of them. The par-72 layout has four sets of tees, with the longest stretching the course to 6,929 yards. The shortest set comes in at just over 5,000.
The course was designed by Mike Dasher. He refers to the course as a hybrid, combining prairie, old Florida and parkland styles to give the golfer an ever-changing pallet that makes for memorable holes and changing strategies.
Some holes feature large, mature oaks framing the greens and fairways. Others use native wind-blown grasses, giving the holes an expansive, big sky feel.
Amazingly, there is a hole here that truly irritated me. Arriving at the short drivable par-4 fifth hole, I was excited at the prospect of driving the green. In my opinion, a hole this short should offer the golfer several options from the tee. Do you lay up, or challenge the hole and go for the green?
Well, since there is a large lake right in front of the green, there is only one option, you lay up. I hate being forced to hit a hybrid or mid-iron from the tee on a par-4. After a six-iron from the tee and a nine-iron into the green I walked off with a mundane par that could have been a much more exciting eagle or double-bogey.
The uphill, par-3 eighth hole has the toughest green on the property. From the tee you must hit a mid to short iron over a creek and to the right spot on the green if you expect to keep the ball there. Nearly every shot missing the green will simply funnel toward the creek well below the green.
The front-nine closes with the longest hole on the course. Measuring 559 yards from the back, you need two solid shots just to set up a short pitch onto a huge green.
When you reach the back nine, you forget that you're amidst a housing development as the holes traverse along as an old Florida layout with expansive lakes and heavily wooded wetlands.
For the most part, the fairways and greens are very generous at Providence. You need not fear hitting your driver a little off line, but bring your best putter with you, because you could find yourself on the green, a long way from the hole, facing a putt that breaks in more than one direction.
The dogleg left par-4 14th plays over 400 yards from all four sets of tees. To cut some distance off your approach, your drive must go over a strand of trees not far from the tees. The approach is to a well-guarded, shallow green.
The tightest driving hole on the course is at the par-5 15th. After a solid drive, one must make that tough decision to lay up or go for it. The green sits atop a hill, and is well guarded by water to the left and bunkers, trees and a hill to the right.
The 16th hole could be the best on the property. From an elevated tee, this par-4 begs players to cut the corner over a wetland area. A great tee shot could mean a difference of 50 yards on your approach shot.
The two closing holes, a par-3 and a par-4, are solid as well. The 17th is a medium-length par-3 that would serve as an example of what the great explorer Ponce de Leon would have built had he built a course when he came to Florida in the early 1500s.
The 18th isn't long by any means, but with water running the entire length down the right side, an accurate tee shot and an exacting approach are required. A back-right pin position could cause you to wish you'd put more antiperspirant on earlier in the day.
To find out more about Providence Golf Club visit the website at www.providence-golf.com or call (863) 420-2652.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.