Kissimmee Bay Country Club opened to rave reviews in 1990, servicing locals in the Orlando area and tourists from all across the country. Golf Digest was so impressed that it included the Lloyd Clifton design on its list of “America’s Best New Courses.”
Now, 28 years later, ownership has executed a plan to bring the popular course back to its lofty standing with a complete renovation of the greens complexes and many other areas of the golf course.
The job was completed in mid-October and the course has reopened after being closed for three months.
“It was time for this,” said Rick Smith, Director of Golf at the semi-private Kissimmee Bay. “The membership as well as our guests deserve the best quality golf experience possible. A lot of them have been here since it opened, and have gone through the good times and the bad times. We’re ready for a return to the good times.”
The Tifdwarf putting surfaces were rebuilt using the new G12 Bermuda grass. Kissimmee Bay is one of the first courses in the region to feature this new strain of grass, and Golf Course Superintendent Jimmy Dutcher with Down to Earth Landscaping and Irrigation, says players will notice the upgrade right away.
“The G12 can handle a lower cut for longer periods of time which provides speedier putting surfaces,” said Dutcher. “It also does better than the original grass in regards to disease stress. It is a huge improvement.”
During the renovation, several greens were slightly re-shaped, and most were expanded back to their original size, bringing some of the greenside bunkers back into play. The team added about a ½-acre to the putting surfaces across the 18 holes.
“These greens don’t have a lot of obvious undulation – just subtle movement and that hasn't changed,” said Dutcher. “That’s the Clifton style. We did create a couple of false fronts, and we re-shaped some approach areas, giving players bump-and-run options that didn't exist before. The major difference our regulars will see is that the greens will be quicker on a consistent basis.”
Players will notice several other upgrades to the golf course. Dutcher and his team took the opportunity to do some work on the bunkers, including creating grass bunker walls, providing a more natural look.
Dutcher’s team also reshaped and leveled some of the tee boxes, used a herbicide application to clean up a few areas on the course, and re-did the practice tee.
Also, the irrigation system was totally revamped, a feature that regulars will pick up on.
“The original irrigation system was still in place here,” said Smith. “We were having to hand-water in the morning during play. The new system is electronically controlled, meaning we can now water at night or any other time it is needed.”
The changes in the golf course will only enhance the high-quality, nature laden golf experience that has greeted golfers since the beginning of Kissimmee Bay. It is not unusual to see turkeys, bobcats and cranes meandering among the stately oaks and pines that line most of the fairways. Large gators can be seen swimming in the lakes that come into play on 16 holes. A round of golf at Kissimmee Bay Country Club is a virtual stroll through nature.
It is also a solid challenge, featuring many unique holes in a beautiful setting, requiring players to move the ball in both directions to score well.
The par 5 ninth is a perfect example of several outstanding risk/reward holes at Kissimmee Bay. It is u-shaped, bending right to left around a water hazard and stand of trees. The tee shot calls for a draw through a narrow shoot, and if hit well gives the player the opportunity to reach the green in two. But the approach must be struck purely as it requires a carry over water to a sloping green that is guarded by bunkers left and right. A bailout area on the right provides a safer option.
A memorable golf experience is not the only attraction at Kissimmee Bay. The partially renovated clubhouse is home to the Langley Golf Museum, an incredible collection of golf artifacts dating back to the beginnings of the game.
The vast collection includes famous clubs, balls, trophies, magazine covers, scorecards and much more. The crown jewel of the museum is a workbench from the Old Tom Morris Workshop at the Old Course in St. Andrews as well as a club made by him.
It’s all part of a unique and fulfilling golf experience that Kissimmee Bay provided for its customers during its glory days. Now, with the renovations, management is promising that same experience.
While in the area you will also want to check out their sister club, Remington Golf Club just one mile away. A more contemporary design with wide fairways and large greens. This is also maintained by Down to Earth Landscaping and Irrigation and is worth your time to check them out.