Even those of us who find golf in Florida a little boring will enjoy Tranquilo Golf Club. The Four Seasons Resort course in Orlando has surprisingly varied elevation changes and a fine collection of holes with greens that really reward thoughtful approach shots.
There’s also a wonderfully telling note on the scorecard among the usual requests to observe good golf etiquette: “Please do not feed the wild animals.” That’s because aside from your view of the magnificent Four Seasons hotel on the first and last holes, the entire course is routed through blessedly home-site-free woodlands and wetlands. Gators, turkeys, deer, lots and lots of hawks and even a few bald eagles may accompany you on your round.
Tom Fazio did a wonderful job of refreshing what used to be the Disney Osprey Ridge golf course into today’s Tranquilo, which opened in 2014. The course plays 6,901 yards from the tips at par 71 while three other sets of tees make it enjoyable for everyone. Fairways are fair but not overly generous, Fazio’s bunkers are large but playable rather than punitive, and the greens are full of subtle breaks. There’s also a fine practice range, putting green, bunker, and short game area.
The first real test comes on the fourth hole, a 407-yard par four (from the blue tees) where you navigate seven bunkers to reach the green. The ninth is a short 480-yard par five with an intimidating tee shot. There are water and bunkers on the right (although plenty of fairway on the left) and the second shot is classic risk/reward—challenge the water to reach in two or play it safe left for a three-shot GIR.
The back nine just gets better and better. The fourteenth hole, a 434-yard par four, calls for the toughest drive on the course—it’s a classic Cape hole with a forced carry over water no matter how safe you try to play it. The seventeenth hole is a daredevil’s delight, with a fairway that makes a “U” around the lake to the green. Even though the finishing hole is a par three, this one is as tough as they come at 209 yards over water. You can play it as a 3.5 par by hitting your tee shot short and right and taking advantage of the sideboard moguls on the fairway, but you’ll still need a 190-yard carry if you want a wedge into the green.
One of the most delightful parts of the Tranquilo experience is La Plancha, the Cuban-American restaurant in the full-service clubhouse Four Seasons built when it took over the course. Even a burger fanatic should consider switching to an El Cubano with yucca fries for the perfect after-round repast.
Four Seasons is currently offering a fantastic package that includes many of the finer things in life inspired by the legendary Bobby Jones. The package includes a $100 daily credit toward a golf lesson, round of golf on Tranquilo, or a spa treatment, as well as another $100 one-time credit in the golf shop toward purchase of any Bobby Jones apparel item. The icing on the cake is a copy of The Legend of Bobby Jones: The Greatest of Them All, a coffee table book by Westchester’s own Martin Davis.
By the way, while the family may be planning to enjoy the many Disney attractions while at the Four Seasons Orlando, be sure to set aside some golf time for them, too. Family play at Tranquilo is one of its best features and the course provides special golf carts that accommodate a family of four. For resort guests, children 12 and younger play free with an adult, and children ages 13-18 golf at half price.