Golfmagic tees up on Nicklaus’ Floridian masterpiece

Posted: 15 October 2014by Andy Roberts


The Nicklaus Course at Reunion Resort, Kissimmee, Florida

THE NICKLAUS COURSE at the luxurious, multifaceted Reunion Resort in Florida is situated on a 2,300-acre former citrus grove in Osceola County, just 15 minutes from Walt Disney World and 25 minutes from Orlando International Airport.

Reunion Resort is an innovatively designed resort that features varied accommodations ranging from single- and multifamily homes to condominiums and town homes, as well as amenities, including 54 holes of signature golf, dining, shopping, boutique spa, tennis centre, meeting and conference facilities, biking and walking trails and a five-acre water park complete with 1,000-foot lazy river and 150-foot slide.

As a layout, The Nicklaus Course contours naturally to the landscape. Not necessarily a hilly course like The Watson Course, The Nicklaus Course was designed to flow smoothly and gently from tee to green. A target, parkland-style course, it was designed to be a “players” course rather than what is often referred to as “resort golf.”

This Parkland-style layout is smooth and flowing, with long horizon lines and elevated tee boxes and greens. Yet The Nicklaus Course, a Signature Design by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, can be as deceptive as it is beautiful.

Measuring 7,244 yards from the tips, this course is more than a test for the single-figure golfer, with postage-stamp greens and forced carries that lead to fairway targets sometimes only 50 yards long. On the whole though, there’s plenty of room off the tee to open the shoulders and give it a rip.

For higher handicap golfers, fear not, as most of these carries are well within range given the variety of tee boxes on offer: blue tees at 6,537 yards, whites at 6,260 and reds for the ladies at 5,055.

You may want to bring a ball scoop with you, however, as nine of the 18 holes feature water. It might also come in useful to simply fend off the wildlife spotted on the property, including coyote, fox, raccoon, Florida deer, gopher tortoise and armadillo.

The practice facilities here are also second to none. A practice 1,105-foot driving range and 13,356-square-foot putting green are provided adjacent to the course. In addition, Reunion Resort has a five-acre dual-ended complex with large teeing areas designed to furnish continuous fresh grass. Additional facilities include chipping, putting and bunker practice areas.

Here’s a look at some of the most memorable holes.


Back of the green at the par-5 third

The course opens with two fairly generous par-4s before moving on to my favourite two holes on the course at the par-5 third, above, and par-4 fourth, below.

On the third, measuring a whopping 585 yards off the tips, water makes its debut. The key here is taking the right side out of play with a well-placed tee shot down the left side. A true three-shot par-5, playing for position down the left side will leave a short iron into a small target green. A birdie putt awaits the golfer who strikes his approach shot the correct distance.

Next up at four, it’s all about how much of the water and numerous fairway bunkers you want to take on. Long hitters can challenge the carry of the fairway bunker to set up a shorter, open-angled approach into this well-guarded green. The undulating green which is protected by water on the front left also proved tricky.


Andy lets rips at the picturesque par-4 fourth

The par-4 ninth, below, was another of my favourites, perhaps more because it heralded my first birdie of the day when stiffing it to within four feet. A generous landing area for your tee shot here leaves a short-iron approach to this elevated green, which sits back to front. Club selection is critical because depth perception may be difficult on one of the smallest greens on the front nine. Miss the green with your approach either side here and it’s a guaranteed bogey, given the bunkers sit particularly deep.


Andy stiffs approach shot into nine

Coming home, the scenic par-3 11th requires accurate club selection for a legitimate shot at birdie. Don’t be long here, as a steep slope funnels golf balls into a deep collection area, making an up-and-down extremely difficult.

The 13th and 14th are probably two of the toughest holes here, measuring 453 and 438 yards respectively.

Positioning your tee shot accurately is the focus of the 13th, which was unlucky for me as I plugged my ball in the lip of the fairway bunker before going on to record a double. The ideal angle requires a shot down the left side, leaving you a short-iron approach.

Given I made double, there were no pictures of this hole to show you.

At 14, the preferred line off the tee is to play to the right side of the fairway. There is no room for error, as a small target green hangs precariously out over the water featuring a bulkheaded green. A courageous shot to any flagstick located left of center will be rewarded by having a relatively flat putt. A large collection area to the right gathers all shots intent on avoiding this menacing water hazard.

A solid fairway, green and two-putt par meant there were pictures to show you of this hole, as you can see below.


14th hole

From there on in, the 532-yard par-5 15th offers a real scoring opportunity. With a big drive to a generous fairway, the green is on in two. With plenty of bunkers awaiting around the green and also on the layup, however, you need to be precise with shot selection. Laying up to within 50 yards, I pitched to 10-feet before tucking home the downhill putt for my second and final birdie of the day.

A beautiful, yet tricky, par-3 awaits at the next, with a full 4-iron carry across water. It’s a hole where you simply need to stand up and be counted. There’s a bail out to the far left side if you don’t fancy it, but given I was only here once it was only right to take dead aim at the back right pin position. Unfortunately, I needed a 3-iron but I don’t have a 3-iron, so I found the greenside bunker, but thankfully wasn’t requiring the ball scoop.

The penultimate hole is a tricky dogleg left with trouble all down the right flank, but The Nicklaus Course presents one final scoring opportunity at the par-5 18th.

This exciting finishing hole offers you a chance to finish strong. Favour the right side of the fairway because there is H20 lurking down and yet more bunkers down the left. An expansive waste area frames the entire left side of the fairway and provides a second shot target down the right flank.


Andy sets up for his approach into 18

For a full look at the golf packages on offer right now, click here.

The Nicklaus Course is a private Resort course, open to members, their guests and Resort guests. The green fee for resort guests varies according to season and includes cart fee. Club and shoe rentals are available on request.

Back at base, there are amply sized rooms for the whole group, rather than all being divided on separate floors or other areas of the resort. The rooms are huge!

In the evening, sit back and relax while watching the fireworks at Disney long into the night, while sampling some of the finest wines and Italian flavours at Forte restaurant.

Address: 7593 Gathering Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34747
Phone: 1-866-880-8563


Resort entrance


Enjoy fine wines and food in the Forte Restaurant


Rooms are comfortable and spacious

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Nicklaus Course at Reunion Resort

This Parkland-style layout is smooth and flowing, with long horizon lines and elevated tee boxes and greens. Yet The Nicklaus Course, a Signature Design by Jack Nicklaus, can be as…

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