Three signature courses, Annika’s academy, water parks, villas and exceptional restaurants make Orlando’s Reunion Resort & Club the center point of the Legendary Golf Trail. The Nicklaus course is a nature center with long wooden bridges tracking through dense floral marsh. Number three draws everything downhill to the water, even when on the green. Number eighteen is a tough, tough finishing hole from all but the forward tees which must carry a vast wetland, then everyone is challenged by a left side waste bunker all the way to the green. The forward tees have a very fair advantage here and throughout the Reunion courses. This may be one reason why there are noticeably more women golfers than at many resorts. Local pros also frequent the world-class resort for extensive practice. We encountered Julieta Granada, LPGA ADT $1m championship winner with her caddy Mama Rosa. Having won a Pro-Am with them and their little dog Bimbo, this was a sweet reunion.
Annika’s Academy is a natural draw and a testament to the Reunion Golf Resort where friends and family reunite to play, learn or share a toast at The Bar at Eleven – a rooftop pool bar. This is a great place to lay out after play or finish the day with a cocktail watching Disney’s fireworks over the horizon. The Clubhouse Grille serves a hearty breakfast buffet to start the day. The Forte restaurant satisfies the traditional American taste with a gourmet flare for fine dining while the Grande Lobby Bar delivers reasonably priced sushi or American bar food at a convenient point for more friendly reunions.
The Palmer Course was played half in the dark. When unusual fog is as thick as pea soup, even Chromax balls are unseen. Blind golf is an adaptive hearing game as the ears tune to the lovely “thud” sound landing on the green or the dreaded clunk of a tree connection or the splash of water. Hole seven is a lovely sight over a multi-hole lake complex as the fog begins to lift, with front greenside bunkering left and right. It is a drivable par 4 for an eagle opportunity which almost came to fruition but that distinction was saved for the par 5 on 15, as playing partner and Corporate Director of Public Relations for Salamander Hotels and Resorts, Matt Owen, nailed the approach shot inches from the cup.
Finally, the Watson Course extends the beautiful landscape and could be titled “Where the Fern Grows,” as it is climbing on pin oaks intertwined with the lacey Spanish moss. On number 15 uphill par 3, anything on the postage stamp green is good. Number nine is a bunker magnet’s nightmare from the tee box as the narrow green strip is lined with one trap after another on both sides. Yet when you look back from the green, none are seen, an unusual architectural feat. This is a sand-sucking course in general but with a happy ending. From 17 an expansive winding bridge transports for another Grand view of the castle-like Wyndham Grand Resort where the villas are a place to call home with impressive bedding and showers, kitchens, and balconies.
Annika’s boutique academy conjures many packages for ready or custom tailored training by sister Charlotta or herself including swing clinics and life changing health and fitness instruction by Kai. Garage doors open from the hitting bays to the driving range. Callaway equipment is fitted and all leave with Annika’s – “Depart friends for life,” making Reunion Golf Resort the place to go with buddies, family or for corporate events.
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