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World-class champions like Nicklaus, Woods and Singh play Disney's Palm Golf Course. You can, too.

By Amy Drew Thompson

The PGA Merchandise Show comes to the Orange County Convention Center Jan. 25-28, along with the year’s best golfing weather. Mercifully, you don’t have to be Arnold Palmer — or even staying at Disney — to experience play at Walt Disney World’s phenomenal courses, so golfers booking cheap Orlando vacations need not settle. Cool quotient: Carts come equipped with the latest GPS technology. Plan accordingly and enjoy reduced late-afternoon rates for even more savings.

Magnolia: Smell that? It’s the heady fragrance of blossoming magnolias. Or maybe your fierce game is making your opponents sweat. Magnolia boasts wide fairways, shimmering water hazards and challenging play that hosts the final rounds of the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, last stop on the PGA Tour.

Palm: Immaculate, palm-studded golf in paradise. And if you’re having an off day on the fairway, sparkling water and tropical sand will remind you that a bad day at golf is often better than a good day at the office.

Osprey Ridge: Not only is this masterpiece ranked among the best courses in Florida, it’s also recognized as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary. Nature envelops all 18 holes and for those in search of a challenge, Osprey Ridge plays 7,101 yards from the back tees.

Lake Buena Vista: This course winds amid quaint pastel architecture, boats and a charming lighthouse with Bahamian sensibility. LBV has hosted PGA, LPGA and USGA events. Can you rise to the challenge of its seventh-hole island green? Come find out!

Oak Trail: Each of the above welcome players at all levels, but Oak Trail, a beautiful, nine-hole walking course, is ideal for watching youngsters fall in love with golf while challenging veterans with cleverly designed holes.

Where to stay: Hampton Inn Orlando: just a mile from the WDW resort area with free shuttle service to Epcot. Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista: free shuttles to virtually every theme park in the vicinity — and kids 11 and under eat free. Marriott Orlando World Center: Hawk’s Landing’s 18 holes are right outside.

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Freelance travel writer and former cart girl Amy Drew Thompson appreciates golf for its precision, grace and excellent tippers.

Tagged: Florida, Off-season, Sports, Tips & advice

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