Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge is an iconic landmark in the world of golf. Playing this golf course is one of the best experiences in golf. Arnold Palmer purchased the full-service resort in 1976 and made it his winter home. A trip to Bay Hill Club allows us to pay our respects to the King after his passing in 2017. The courses restrict play to members and guests of the lodge. Arnold Palmer memorabilia fill the lodge.
A tremendous twenty-seven hole layout comprises three nines – Challenger, Champion, and Charger. The Challenger and Champion nines comprise the 18-hole course that hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour. The championship layout is consistently intriguing with lakes bordering on twelve holes and over 100 bunkers. Bermuda grass greens are raised, tiered and undulating and provide a consistent challenge. Course conditioning is superb. Penalizing rough places a premium on hitting fairways. Multiple holes require forced carries over water providing exciting risk/reward opportunities. The fee includes a forecaddie for the foursome. You can also hire a private caddie.
A medium length Par4, Hole #3 requires a precise approach shot over the water well guarded by bunkers and rocks left. The second shot on the Par5 Hole #5 (like Hole #3) provides an excellent risk/reward challenge. Aim as far left as you dare to shorten your approach shot into this Par5. There is something special about playing the same course as the professionals, when you can do it either before or after the tournament, with the grandstands up. You can almost hear the applause when you hit a good shot. More water to navigate on the approach shot to the Par4 Hole #8. The plateau green requires precision. The tournament grandstand backdrop evokes that special feeling.
Large greens at Bay Hill Club test lag putting. Well placed fairway bunkers with great sand are penalizing. The bunker on the right side of thirteen requires a short iron over water to a plateau green fronted by rocks. One of the most spectacular Par3 closing holes in all of golf is the seventeenth. Navigate 150 yards to 221 yards over water to a well-bunkered green. TV viewers recognize the closing hole on the championship course. After a drive that evades the water right on this long Par 4, players need to fit a shot into the narrow green to have a chance at birdie. Long and left is the typical bailout.
Bay Hill Golf Club is a unique golfing destination. When the quality of the golf course layout combines with superior course conditioning, the result is stupendous. And playing a premier PGA Tour site with Arnold Palmer’s legacy makes this a quintessential golf experience.