Archive » August 16, 2012
Golf & Travel
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
When you are on the road, some extra space is always a bonus. Combine that with some of the best golf in the U.S. and you have the makings of a great vacation. Both Innisbrook in the Tampa area, and Reunion close to Disney World in Orlando offer just that.
These two gems are part of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the newest venture of Sheila C. Johnson, the successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.
InnisbrookThe Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort is a regular stop on the PGA Tour and home to some of the best golf in Florida. Each March the big boys take on the Copperhead Course considered the toughest at Innisbrook and always ranked in the Top 100 in the U.S.
The Island, North and South Course give the resort a total of four championship layouts, and there is even a short course to tune up on or to take the little ones. Only a select few places in the country have this much quality golf in one location.
The accommodations are spread out amongst the various courses but never too far from the main lobby. The rooms and suites have been recently renovated and are all you would expect from a top-rated golf resort. There are multiple dining options at Innisbrook, but on this visit we dined at the Market Salamander Grille close to the front lobby. My Fresh Tuna Fillet Club Sandwich was expertly prepared as was the Chinese Chicken Salad we ordered. The grounds are spacious at Innisbrook and this is noticeable at the golf courses, where tee times are spread out, making for a more relaxing experience.
Innisbrook is not more than 30 minutes from the sleek Tampa International Airport. This is a city set on the water and worthy of some extra time. Go to InnisbrookGolfResort.com for complete information.
ReunionThe Reunion Resort is just a couple of miles southeast of DisneyWorld and a perfect spot for a family outing. Similar to Innisbrook many of the guest offerings are 2-3 bedroom units with every modern convenience needed. A family could easily spend the week here with a gourmet kitchen, large flat-screen TVs, and luxurious bedrooms. The units seem almost new and do include washer/ dryers. All dwellings at Reunion look out to signature golf holes, of which there are many.
The golf at Reunion is spectacular with three championship 18-hole layouts. Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer each created one course here and there is no other resort in the nation with such a gathering of legends. The Palmer Course is set on rolling terrain with mostly generous fairways. This layout includes many risk reward opportunities. The Watson Course demands accurate approach shots but leaves short-game recovery opportunities in its naturalist setting. The Nicklaus Course is a Parkland-style design with elevated tee boxes and greens. Many opportunities here to cut the corner but inaccurate plays will be penalized.
AnnikaThe Annika Academy is located on the back end of the practice area at Reunion. Here, Annika Sorenstam her sister Charlotta and her longtime coach Henri Reis have joined together to offer students the same technique that made her perhaps the best female ball striker ever. She left the tour several years ago after almost a decade as the No. 1-ranked LPGA player. Who could forget when she broke the glass ceiling by competing in the PGA Tour Colonial Invitational and almost made the cut. She dominated the LPGA tour in both major and regular tour wins during her tenure, but it was really her ball-striking that stood out. No woman has ever hit the ball tee to green as well as Annika. Very few men, either. It is not surprising that lots of people want a glimpse into this swing of the future and the Annika Academy is popular.
Reunion Resort includes a water park and multiple pool options for those seeking relief from the ever-present sun. Tennis is abundant and there are miles of bike paths from which to choose. Reunion is no more than a 20-minute drive from Orlando International Airport. Visit ReunionResort.com for further details.