An introduction to Kissimmee

If you’re looking for the best golf courses in Kissimmee, Florida, you’ve come to the right place.

Kissimmee is a popular city in Florida, just south of the hugely popular Orlando. Yet compared to Orlando, it is positively quaint and quiet. 

See also: What are the best golf courses in Orlando?

Kissimmee image

That said, Kissimmee remains a haven for tourists. It is close enough to the world famous theme parks. But then far enough away to not be overwhelmed but the hustle and bustle. 

See also: What are the best golf courses in Florida?

As for the golf courses in Kissimmee, I’m counting courses around central Kissimmee and those just hugging Interstate 4. Let’s jump into them now.

The best public golf courses in Kissimmee, Florida

1. Reunion Resort (Watson Course, Nicklaus Course, Palmer Course)

Reunion Resort, Orlando, Florida

As to be expected, a number of the best golf courses in Kissimmee are resort courses. Located around large, sprawling five-star resorts, the quality can at times be hit and miss. 

But at Reunion Resort, rest assured the golf is top class.

There are three 18-hole championship golf courses each designed by a world-famous PGA legend. These are Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. In fact, it is the only golf destination worldwide which has a course designed by each of them in the same place.

The 6,916 yard Palmer course and the 7,219 yard Nicklaus course are great fun. Both are routed on relatively hilly, rolling terrain, with elevated tee boxes and greens. On the Palmer course, unusual for a Florida layout, you’ll encounter elevation changes of up to 50 feet.  

But the gem of the three is the Watson course, both in terms of aesthetic and challenge. 

First things first, is to choose the correct tee box. Get this wrong and you’re going to be in for a long day. It is not as long as the Nicklaus course, at 7,154 yards. But it requires far more strategy and craft.

There are just under 180 bunkers on the course, of which avoiding the fairway bunkers is critical to scoring well.

This is resort golf, but one of the finest examples you’ll find in the state.

2. Waldorf Astoria Golf Club

Waldorf Astoria Golf - WEBSTE

From one impressive five-star resort to another, Waldorf Astoria is just 5 minutes up the freeway from Reunion Resort. Here we’re a lot closer to the vast number of Disney operated establishments.

The Waldorf Astoria is one of the more sought after hotels south of Orlando. It is definitely more up-market and sophisticated than many of the other run-of-the-mill resorts.

It also happens to have a very fine Rees Jones designed golf course onsite. 

Routed through the Bonnet Creek nature reserve, this is a visually elegant and verdant course. Majestic cypress trees line many of the fairways. 

But water hazards are going to be your main worry. There are less than a handful of holes where water doesn’t come into play in some way or another.

But this is no gimmick. The design is clever and makes you think about how and where to attack. One of Jones’ traits is being able to weave classical golf course design into more modern subtleties. 

The result is an immensely playable course. It also doesn’t rely on the presence of water to elevate it, like many other courses sometimes do.

Without doubt one of the best golf courses in Kissimmee and a past recipient of Golf Advisor’s Golfer’s Choice Top 50 in the U.S.

3. Falcon’s Fire Golf Club

One of the finest public golf courses south of Orlando, Falcon’s Fire Golf Club is without doubt one of the best golf courses in Kissimmee.

The club is right next to the toll road, literally minutes away from many of the Disney resort hotels. One of the reasons it is so popular no doubt. 

Unique for a Florida golf course, is the complete lack of residential property surrounding the plot. In fact Falcon’s Fire is contained within its own wildlife sanctuary, with a dense pine and cypress forest occupying much of the northern part of the site.

The layout is sublime and is the work of Rees Jones alongside Greg Muirhead. Since 1993 when it opened for play, it has been a staple golf choice in the region. The likes of Golf Digest has consistently rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Playing here is fun but also one heck of a challenge. Generally off the tee there is enough space to get the big dog out. But the real skill comes when approaching the greens. 

In typical Jones fashion, every green is protected by multiple bunkers. This goes into overdrive on the 13th hole with no less than 14 pot bunkers lining the left hand side of the fairway. Behind the green is one giant bunker and from the tee box to the green is one vast lake.

In fact water really comes into play on the back nine. The 16th hole is a daunting par 4 with water either side of the fairway. Nothing but a straight drive will do here. 

Great fun golf course and well worth giving it a try. 

4. Celebration Golf Club

This fine golf course opened for play in 1996. Its main claim to fame is the fact it was the last course designed as a collaboration between Robert Trent Jones Senior and Junior.

It is located just off Interstate 4, easily accessible from all of the main resorts and hotels. This is possibly one of the reasons it is so popular with tourists.

The Trent Jones partnership certainly had an interesting albeit perplexing plot to work with. It is essentially a long strip of land which runs along the western and northern extremities of the master-planned community of Celebration. 

This results in a routing which takes you out one way and brings you back. And then takes you out the other way, and brings you back again. Although this may seem mundane and quite frankly boring, it really isn’t.

For starters the landscape is a mix of Florida wetlands and natural pine forest. This gives the layout a pleasant aesthetic and character. Expect to see native oaks, magnolias and pines.

Secondly, the routing is on point. Gently undulating fairways featuring strategic hazards, lead up to large challenging greens. 

It goes without saying, but to really test yourself, playing from the backs really brings the course to life. Just over 7,000 yards, it puts even more emphasis on accurate approach play. 

This is a fun course which is also surprisingly good value. Depending on the day, you can get tee times starting around the $50 mark. 

5. Omni ChampionsGate Golf Club (International Course & National Course)

Omni ChampionsGate, Kissimmee, Florida - Permission Granted

Just 10 minutes away from Disney and a half hour drive to central Kissimmee is the fine golf resort of Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. 

Omni hotels are elegant at the best of times and this resort at ChampionsGate certainly doesn’t disappoint. 

Alongside this resort are two outstanding golf courses, both top-class examples of resort golf. We have the National Course and the superb International Course. 

The International Course, designed by Greg Norman is the pick of the bunch. This is an expansive layout designed in a coastal links style, not something you see too much of in Florida. 

But this is also why the International Course is so loved. It pulls off the ‘links feel’ particularly well, with large undulating fairways and hundreds of pot bunkers. With few trees you actually experience wind sweeping through the site and over the dunes.

From the back tees, the Blacks, it stretches out to well over 7,300 yards. No wonder the PGA Tour has called this home in the past. And also why the International gets so much praise from the major golf publications. 

6. Hawk’s Landing Golf Club

Hawk's Landing Golf Club, Kissimmee, Florida, Permission Given

Set within 220 acres of lush grounds, is the resort course of Hawk’s Landing Golf Club. 

This fine layout has been around since 1986 when the original Joe Lee routing was opened. 

But what we have today was largely designed in 1999 by Robert ‘Bobby’ Cupp Jr, the son of the great Bob Cupp. Cupp’s father had been an ever-present in golf course architecture, even working closely with Jack Nicklaus for 6 years. So it was inevitable his son would be involved in some capacity.

Over the years, Cupp Junior has designed well over 80 golf courses worldwide. And Hawk’s Landing is up there as one of his finest designs. 

The course is located at the Orlando World Centre Marriott, literally across the road from Downtown Disney. Once again, this is a fine resort course. 

Water is ever present as are vast sand bunkers. There are a handful of holes which encourage you to bring out the driver. But generally, this is a strategy golf course where you’ll need to plot your way round, primarily avoiding the litany of traps.

The imposing Orlando World Centre looms large in the background but the course is beautiful nonetheless. There is plenty of wildlife, native birds and dense beds of colorful azaleas. 

Worth also mentioning that just recently in 2020, the course benefited from a major renovation, again under the tutelage of Bobby Cupp. There is no shortage of investment into Hawk’s Landing and this is why it is one of the best golf courses in Kissimmee.

7. Shingle Creek Golf Club

Shingle Creek Golf Course, Kissimmee, Florida - Permission Given resized

Another fancy five star hotel, another golf course. Welcome to Orlando. Fortunately for us, a lot of these golf courses are top-class, many having been designed by world-renowned architects.

And this is the case with Shingle Creek Golf club, which is located around the AAA Four-Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek. The course was designed by the Arnold Palmer Design Company with David Harman the main man in charge.

Like so many golf courses on this list, there is water and lot’s of it. This is a prime Florida wetlands area, so probably unsurprising. But there are maybe two holes where water isn’t in some way involved.

It has to be said, it can sometimes be tough psychologically to be constantly trying to avoid the wet stuff. And at Shingle Creek there is a lot of it! But the design is fluent and keeps you constantly interested. 

The recent renovation in 2016 has also elevated the course. The bunkers have been touched up and generally the course is looking sharp.

This is a great place to come and play a quick round whilst being good value too. 

8. Oak National Golf Club

And to the last on our list of the best golf courses in Kissimmee, we move on to Oaks National Golf Club.

This is actually the one closest to central Kissimmee, literally a 10 minute drive from downtown. 

The course skirts the Makinson Island Conservation Area, a large wetland area part of Lake Tohopekaliga. Yet despite its proximity to this vast area of natural beauty, it is primarily surrounded by residential housing. 

This is a mighty shame but fortunately there are enough vestiges of nature. These include ancient moss-covered oaks and ample wildlife surrounding the multiple water features. 

The course originally opened in 1986, but it was completely rebranded in 2015. This redesign was led by Karl Litten and it was immediately recognised by Golf Advisor as being one of the most improved golf courses in the US. 

Generally, this is a fun and unpretentious layout, open to all levels of golfer. 

What is the best golf course in Kissimmee, Florida?

The best golf course in Kissimmee, Florida, is the Watson Course at Reunion Resort. Designed by Tom Watson, it is 7,154 yards in length. This is a challenging layout and sits alongside two other golf courses, the Nicklaus and Palmer Courses.

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