Near Orlando’s attractions, Mystic Dunes is an attraction itself

Sizable but severely undulating greens are Mystic Dunes' trademark.

One can picture how some visitors to Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club likely use the Gary Koch-designed course right outside their villas’ front doors.

During a vacation centered around all of Walt Disney World’s offerings, just four miles up the road, a round of golf is a relaxing day off from the park crowds.

But after 18 holes, the script changes. Play Mystic Dunes once and the trip itinerary demands another look – how do you finagle one more round?

Mystic Dunes earns the highest compliment one can give a course, the desire to play it again. Since being taken over by Diamond Resorts a year ago, capital improvements have been made all over the resort but especially at the course, helping it regain a position as one of Orlando’s must-plays.

A new superintendent is helping the course play friendlier (think sod instead of vegetation alongside several fairways), but anyone looking to score still must earn it on Mystic Dunes’ trademark roller-coaster greens.

The course has two distinct halves, with holes 1-10 featuring the dunes and the rest offering a tree-lined challenge. Distinctive “whiskey barrel” bunkers dot several holes and must be seen to be believed (we’ll revisit those later this week). And don’t be surprised to see a critter or two, like the baby turtle that crossed our path coming off the seventh hole.

You’ll see a little bit of everything at Mystic Dunes. And then you’ll want to figure out a way to see it all again.

Three cool holes

  • No. 5, 496-yard par-5: Was a brutal par-4 just two months ago, now far more inviting as a birdie/eagle hole.
  • No. 11, 508-yard par-4: Mystic Dunes’ No. 1 handicap hole and the introduction to the tree-lined part of the course. Be straight off the tee or else.
  • No. 13, 344-yard par-4: Four signature “whiskey barrel” bunkers are far better to admire from a distance than to play out of.

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