Lake Buena Vista is one of the five Disney World Golf Courses and typical of all the Disney courses, you'll experience a fairly straight forward and traditional layout, excellent conditions, plenty of color, very well maintained colorful landscaping, and good service. Lake Buena Vista opened in the summer of 1980 and is one of the few courses that has hosted a PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and USGA events – the tours have now moved to other courses, primarily because Lake Buena Vista is a little short for the pros at 6802 yards. Golf Digest rated Lake Buena Vista an impressive 4 stars.
The course meanders and winds through some pastel villas, beside pine forests, through some draping eerie cypress moss, and along and across canals offering scenic boat tours as a part of the Disney experience. You'll also see some of the Disney attractions including the balloon ride. Lake Buena Vista is a pretty traditional layout with no tricks, wide and forgiving fairways, and good sized greens. From what we heard, normally the greens and fairways are in excellent condition, however when we played in late February, the course was in transition and the previous week of horrible weather negatively impacted the over-seeding and overall course conditions. The slightly elevated greens were in pretty good condition, about average speed, true, and on the large side. Most were well protected with bunkers and all had minor slope – putting was not an issue when we played.
There is water on 11 of 18 holes, but it's pretty easy to avoid and doesn't really come into play except on a couple holes, like the beautiful #7 which is an island green and the signature hole. There are several fun holes like #6 which is a short 354 yard par 4 that requires an approach shot that carries a lake to a green protected by the lake and a huge backside bunker – this one is a favorite of the sea gulls and Mallards but not of Nike or Titlist golf balls.
On this 18 you'll find a couple dog legs, fantastic par 3's, water to carry, some tight fairways and approaches, plenty of soft white bunkers, wetlands that can devour your golf ball, and some well protected greens. Overall, Lake Buena Vista is a good quality golf experience that is very fair and won't beat you up and provides an opportunity to relax and end the day with a good score. Bring binoculars – you can use them to scope out the hole as well as bird-watch where you're likely to spot a lot of Florida birds including Wood Storks, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Red shouldered Hawks, Blue Heron, Snowy Egrets, and an occasional Bald Eagle. You'll also get to experience some of the sights and sounds of Disney.
We played this course as part of a fun filled seven days in Orlando where we rode in an Indy race car, saw alligators on an air-boat ride, sky dived in a wind tunnel, flew a 1946 World War II fighter trainer, para-sailed, swam with the manatees, ate too much good food, enjoyed some fun nightlife, golfed 9 different courses, and got very little sleep! Read our Orlando Vacation article to learn more about this adventure packed vacation.