Agreement between Arnold Palmer and Walt Disney World Resort unites iconic golf brands in Orlando
The King and the Mouse.
It makes sense that the two titans of Orlando golf -– Arnold Palmer and Mickey Mouse – have united for a long-term strategic partnership.
Beginning Sept. 25, Arnold Palmer Golf Management will operate, manage, maintain and help promote all five golf courses at Walt Disney World Resort, including the Palm and Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge and Oak Trail. The five join the nearly 70 other courses managed by Palmer’s group.
The 20-year strategic alliance will allow Palmer’s team to implement strategic new design features. Future plans include a full renovation of the Palm course, transforming it into an Arnold Palmer design. The Palm and Magnolia have hosted the PGA Tour since the early 1970s. The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic is scheduled for Oct. 17-23.
“After 40 years as a golf course architect, I’m looking forward to this opportunity to contribute to Disney’s rich and storied golf legacy,” Arnold Palmer said in a statement. “I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of memories playing golf, and it will be a great reward to pass that on to those who share a passion both for Disney and the game of golf.”
Last December, I got my first look at Disney golf. All four championship courses - Oak Trail is a nine-hole family course - are solid Florida tracks with some man-sized holes. All five courses are certified by Audubon International as cooperative wildlife sanctuaries. Driving a cart through the Magnolia Course at dusk to take some photos, I was literally racing deer down the fairways. Birds of all shapes and colors appeared everywhere. Earlier in the day, an eagle (see photo below) flew by while I was playing the Palm.
The benefits for both sides are obvious. Only one other Disney course sports a “name-brand” architect. Tom Fazio designed Osprey Ridge, Disney’s best play (pictured below), in 1992. The Magnolia and Palm are two old-school Joe Lee designs that have been beefed up with new tees and more length in recent years but are ready for a little more TLC.
Palmer management, owned by Dallas based Century Golf Partners, gives Disney members access to the “Palmer Advantage,” a reciprocal club and concierge service program, that provides members with unique travel benefits and access to more than 250 private clubs, resorts and golf courses around the world.
Long live the King … and the mouse.
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