Lake Buena Vista Golf Course Review
LBV Golf Course
Teacher’s Comments: Nothing special, and thus overpriced
On our recent family vacation to Walt Disney World, I quite naturally took a morning away from the theme parks to get in a round at Disney’s Lake Buena Vista golf couse. It was fun, but there was nothing there that afterwards made me say “Wow. I played a Disney Course.” I at least expected a mouse shaped bunker, but didn’t get it.
Lake Buena Vista is the oldest of Walt Disney World’s five courses. Built in 1972, it was designed by the underrated but prolific architect Joe Lee. Over the years it has played host to PGA Tour, LPGA and USGA events.
LBV, as it is referred to on the Disney Property, measures 6,819 from the Championship Tees, and plays to 6,268 from the whites. Most of the front nine winds its way through the Old Key West Resort—the Disney timeshare and hotel complex where we were staying—past pastel villas and near Disney transportation canals. The back nine starts alongside a couple of roads, but then tracks through a little more wooded area.
The course is for most part straightforward, with just two severe doglegs and no blind shots. It’s very flat, and thus players don’t have to worry about uneven lies. A bogey golfer playing from the white tees (as I did) should be able to score pretty well if he can keep it in the fairway.
Strategic trouble on the course mostly comes in the form of water. By my count, there was water on fifteen holes. Several of those, such as one, two, five and six and ten had water trouble nearly the entire length of the holes. The par threes on seven and sixteen required carries across water to the greens.
All of that water led to some fun and interesting decisions. I laid up several times when, on a less damp course, I would have gone for the green.
On the back nine more narrow, tree lined fairways add to the equation. It’s by no means as threatening as most Michigan Northwoods courses, but you do have to be a bit more careful than on the front.
Aside from the water, most of the course’s defense comes from elevated, well bunkered greens complexes.I played a lot of shots out of greenside sand on that day.
My favorite hole was probably the 354 yard par 4 sixth. Water bounds the green front and right, forcing a decision on the second shot: go for it, or lay up short and then try to hit the green with a more accurate wedge.
I thought the conditions on the day I played were just ok. I didn’t see any weeds on the fairways or greens, but the grooming wasn’t very good. Frankly, the fairways and rough seemed a bit ragged. By Michigan standards, I’d say it was about what you’d expect from a good municipal course. To be fair, though, LBV was the first (and only) Florida course I’ve played, so I don’t know whether it would considerd good, fair or poor by Florida standards.
I was really disappointed that I didn’t see an alligator or two on the course. I looked hard, but no dice. I did, however, spot a lynx.
The Disney personnel were, as you might expect, very friendly, courteous and helpful. A very nice lady in a cart stopped by a couple of times to give us cool, wet towels to refresh ourselves with. The pro shop guys went digging through a lot of boxes to find a shirt for me in the right size.
(It’s neither here, nor there, but I never understood the people who go to Florida because they can’t stand cold weather. It seems to me six of one, half dozen of the other. In Michigan, we have cold December through February that might keep you in the house. In Florida, there’s heat June through September that keeps you in the airconditioning. At least when it’s cold, you can bundle up and still go outside to play.)