Review: Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge

Being an avid golfer, one of the things I like to do is play some of the best courses in my area. I have decided to document these experiences and share with you all. We posted this experience on our FB and IG story, but wanted to share the rest with you: 

Randomly a couple weeks ago, I said to my brother, we should try to get on Bay Hill. The only problem with this was 1. I’m not a member, 2. I don’t know a member, and 3. I’ll never be a member. So the only way around this is to stay at the resort, which we inquired about.

We contacted the lodge and asked what we needed to do to play the course. It was simple, with 1 nights stay, you can play 1 round of golf. Being the “slower” time of year, turns out, it’s actually pretty affordable. We spent 1 night at the lodge and got 1 round of golf, the total cost including everything was $335. $135 for the room and $100 per round. Sign me up, I’m all about splurging for experiences.

Living on the East side of Orlando, only about 30 minutes away from Bay Hill, we decided what the heck, why not. We booked our round for a Friday morning, and stayed at the lodge Friday night (They didn’t have anything available Saturday AM, members only until noon on weekends).

Our tee time is at 10:30 on Friday, so we leave our place at 8:00. The 30 minute drive leaves us plenty of time to take in the course and experience. We get to the lodge to check in and at least drop our little amount of luggage off with the front desk since check-in isn’t usually until the afternoon. Turns out, they had a room ready for us and we were able to get into our room by 8:30am, sweet.

The lodge is a quant place covered with old school pictures of The King, Arnold Palmer amongst trophies, and mementos throughout the hallways. The rooms also featured various pictures of Mr. Palmer, my favorite was the monkey on a leash getting a lesson from Arnie. Classic.The beds were comfortable, the bathrooms were big and each side of the TV had a nice little storage area that acted as a locker to hang up our clothes, shoes, etc. Now I’m starting to feel like a pro. After getting settled into the room, we make the very short walk over to the clubhouse. It’s less than 100 steps from our room to the pro shop with only the practice area dividing us. And I’ll tell you what, it’s easy to get caught up in that practice area before even making it to the pro shop. The stacked pyramids of balls at the pitching green/greenside bunker are enticing and you practically need a map to navigate the practice green which is roughly 10,000 sq. ft.
After checking in for our tee time, we head over to the range for a brief warm up session. After that we head back to the practice area for a heavy dose of putting, chipping and pitching. Then, the starter calls you up to the tee:
The round itself was a total rollercoaster for us, I absolutely smoked a 3 wood right down the middle, but when we got to the first green, the sky opened up on us. We got blue balled 10 minutes into our round:
The horn blew on the first green and the sky opened up, we had to go back to the clubhouse and wait it out since there was heavy lightning in the area. But this actually added to the experience: 
The storm rolled in and we rolled into the locker room, something I’m glad we got to do. Upon entering the Mens locker room, you’re greeted by a bartender and people playing cards, drinking and watching golf. This didn’t suck. In the locker room area are the players lockers, those were cool to look at, including Arnie’s.
The only bummer about the weather delay is the course is completely shut down until the last lightning strike within 6 miles occurs, after that point, you have to wait 30 minutes. Might have been a bummer, but safety first.

 

The first weather delay (ugh, more to come) lasted about an hour and a half. We got back out onto the course a little after noon and it was just a light drizzle, nothing unbearable. The course itself was spectacular and as good as I could have imagined. The greens were fast (I’d estimate they were rolling at solid 11’s. The fairways were mint and the rough wasn’t unbearable. I only had one birdie on the rain soaked day, that came on the par 5, 4th hole. A drive in the fairway followed by a hybrid just short of the green lead to an easy up and down for 4.

 

The par 5 6th hole, in my opinion the signature hole, was sadly closed on the day we played due to irrigation repair and maintenance. They ended up routing us to include a hole on the Charger course right next to that hole so we got to play an 18 hole round.

 

We were smooth sailing up until we got to the 12th hole where we were met with another weather delay with another lightning system moving through, we took cover in the shelter just off the 12th tee box. We were sidelined this time for about an hour. But we took some time (once we felt things were safe) to have a little fun, doing our own Phil Mickelson Flop Shot Challenge: 
We started back up around 4:30 and finished our round at 6:00pm, it was a pretty long round with two weather delays totaling nearly 2 hours and 45 minutes.

 

I will say, the final 3 holes at Bay Hill are one of my favorite final 3 holes I’ve ever played. They’re not quite as good as Sawgrass, but they are a close 2nd. The 16th is a reachable par 5 that requires some strategy off the tee and a second shot that also requires a well played shot strategically placed to a green over water and surrounded by bunkers. I was able to get home in 2, but wasn’t able to get up and down for birdie from a bunker: 
The par 3 17th hole is quite daunting playing about 210 yards, slightly down hill but well guarded by bunkers and water short. I hit a 5 iron to about 30 feet and happily walked away with par.
The final hole is as good as it looks on TV. The tee shot plays blind but just from watching it on TV you know exactly where to play it. My tee shot left me a short iron in which I hit to about 20 feet right of the flag, I was hoping for the Sunday pin location, but got a much easier one instead to fire at:
I two putted for par and a 76 from the back tees. Something I was pretty happy with considering how the weather was early on and how wet the course was the rest of the day. My brother, who is a 13 handicap, shot a smooth 90. It was a great day and a great experience, something I highly recommend.
Even though our round was done, we utilized all the amenities as long as we could including putting well into dark, and waking up and putting an early morning practice session in at the short game area:
I highly recommend Arnie’s place for any golf fan, it’s a great course with a lot of history. It really is a gem.
Value ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pace of Play ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (aside from weather delays)
Staff ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Course Conditions ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Course Layout ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐