It seems more and more these days that pro Tour players are lending their names to golf facilities as their "touring professionals." But do you ever wonder where the pros really call home? Where do they go after you see them on the tube on Sundays? Where do they beat balls between tournaments and unwind with their families? Well, for about 50 pro golfers, home is Orlando, Florida.
That's right. The land of Mickey and friends is also home to some of the world's best golfers including 30 PGA Tour players, the likes of Tiger Woods, Corey Pavin, and Ernie Els. Add golfing legends Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, and about a dozen LPGA Tour regulars, and you've got a pretty talented neighborhood.
Why do so many of the pros prefer Orlando? Well, there are 123 courses within a 45-minute drive of downtown, and perhaps a bigger selection of things to do off the course than any city on earth. Plus, the weather is always great for outdoor activities, with an average annual temperature of 72.4 degrees. In short, it's a great place to work on your game or forget about it altogether.
Orlando is as much a mecca for the golf purist as it is for the family vacationer. The area has long been legendary for courses designed by two of golf's greatest players - Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. It also is one of the country's fastest growing golf regions, with dozens of new courses opened in just the past few years, from designers like Tom Fazio, Pete Dye and Rees Jones.
For game improvement, Orlando is home to six golf instruction academies, headed by renowned teachers like David Leadbetter and Rick McCord. Through personalized teaching and the latest technological advantages, these schools may help you find the silver lining to your game.
But what is it that really attracts the Tour pros? Maybe they just like competing in front of our hometown crowds, as local PGA tour residents can do at the Bay Hill Invitational and the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Walt Disney World held each year in Orlando. The pros know there's nothing like winning at home.
In addition to the Tour stops, some of golf's grandest events have come to Orlando. The World Cup of Golf was played at the Lake Nona Golf Club in 1993 and at Grand Cypress in 1991. Lake Nona has also hosted the Solheim Cup in 1989. And each year tens of thousands of pros and golf equipment manufacturers journey to Orlando for the PGA Merchandise Show, the biggest golf exhibition in the world.
Orlando has long been known as a place that brings out the kid in everyone, with attractions and theme parks beyond compare. But today it's a place for serious golf as well. Whether you want to play great courses, learn from top teachers, or watch the best compete, Orlando has it all. Just ask the Tour pros who call it home.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times