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Palmer Course at Reunion Resort Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Resort Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Reunion, FL
Website
Date Last Played: February 22, 2012

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Palmer Course at Reunion Resort Review

Review of the Palmer Course at Reunion Resort

Arnold Palmer designed another masterpiece golf course that sits smack dab in the middle of the sprawling fantastic Reunion Resort.  Condos loom over most of the holes but Palmer did an excellent job of preserving and leveraging a few of the natural wetland areas and he added lots of oaks, palm trees, and colorful landscaping to create what feels like a little park in the middle of a booming development.  And he sculptured 18 outstanding holes with generous roller coaster fairways, expansive waste areas, elevation changes of up to 50 feet, several risk reward opportunities, challenging green complexes, and strategically placed bunkers creating a golfing experience that is fun, fair but demanding, and a blast to play. 

Arnold Palmer has always liked his bunkers super-white and that trait is in abundance at Reunion Resort's Palmer course - the contrast between the lush green fairways and greens and the glistening white sand bunkers is stunning.  And when you add the whites, reds, yellows, and purple colorful landscaping plus the orange/brownish natural waste/sand areas that are everywhere you have a colorful masterpiece!  The course is meticulously maintained from tee to green.

But there is a beast in that beauty - the fairways are heavily contoured, the greens have severe slope and undulation, and most of the bunkers are steep and deep and some are long and narrow with multiple fingers.  Which means if you spend too much time enjoying the scenic beauty or don't focus on course management and club selection, you'll be buying the drinks at the 19th hole which overlooks the putting green and driving range where you'll also wish you had spent more time.  

We loved the Palmer course at Reunion Resort and it's not surprising that the course has received a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:

  • #21 in Golf Digest's "America's Top New Courses"
  • GOLF Magazine's "Best Courses Near You in Florida - #27"
  • Golfweek's "Top 100 Resort Courses" and #12 in "Florida's Best Public Access Courses"

Some of the holes that we really enjoyed included:

  • the 421 yard par 4 first hole gives you a taste of what to expect for the rest of your round - an elevated tee box, a wide rolling and contoured fairway that takes a sharp turn left to a severely sloping green with water on the right and a  big bunker on the left
  • #7 is stunning - an elevated tee shot across the lake to a relatively small landing zone thanks to the water and some huge bunkers and an oblong severely undulating green flanked by three big bunkers - a great risk reward opportunity if you want to try and go for the green on this short 303 yard par 4
  • three fantastic finishing holes - a demanding 178 yard slightly downhill shot to an elevated green with a steep drop off to a large natural sand area; on 17, a 399 yard dog leg left, which offers a risk reward shot to try to carry a natural sand area that runs tee to green and a huge long sand bunker with 17 fingers or an accurate shot off the tee (leave the big dog in the bag) followed by a downhill shot to a two tier green with two big bunkers protecting it; and an excellent finishing hole with a huge tee to green natural sand area on the right, a wide landing zone that leads to a hidden natural area with stone walls, and a challenging uphill shot to an expansive two tier green surrounded by 5 bunkers

From our perspective the back nine was a lot more fun and home to some fantastic holes.  The greens on the back seemed a little smaller and flatter, the fairways seemed a little more forgiving, and there weren't as many long sweeping natural sand areas, but there are a couple more big bunkers that seemed harder to avoid.  And the last four holes are very memorable, unique, and will make you want to come back again, and again, and again!

The fairways are generous and the wide rough is playable at the Palmer Course, but after that you're in trouble.  The heavily contoured and roller coaster fairways were in near perfect condition when we played. 

The greens are all shapes and sizes and most are on the large side and raised making bump and runs tough.  All have some combination of slope, undulation, or tiers with subtle breaks and slope to collection areas which can make three putts common.  They were running around 10 to 11 and were very smooth when we played. 

The bunkers are everywhere and range from small pot bunkers to some huge monsters that would swallow a 5 car train!  In addition there are lots of waste areas, which are too nice to call water areas since they are well maintained and landscaped with soft playable sand. 

Reunion Resort is outstanding with a wide choice of lodging options, great restaurants, excellent amenities, and some of the best service we have experienced.  They have an great Stay & Play offering which we enjoyed during our visit to Florida - read our review of Reunion Resort.  In addition to all of the above, Reunion Resort is home to three excellent signature golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, and Jack Nicklaus.  To learn more, read our review of the Watson Course. 

The Palmer Course is private but is open for play for guests of the Resort.  Both the Resort and the Palmer Course are outstanding and well worth the price of admission. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,916 73.4 137
Gold 6,419 70.9 132
Blue 6,058 69.2 128
White 5,529 67.6 116
Red 4,802 67.0 113

Course Information

Course Architect:
Arnold Palmer
Greens Type:
Bermuda/Rye
Greens Condition
9.8
Greens Difficulty
9.0
Fairway Condition
9.8
Bunker Condition
10.0
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
No
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 6 holes and the 68 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.0 out of 10
Beauty:
9.0
Difficulty:
8.8
Variety:
8.5
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
9.0
Condition:
9.8
Front Nine Rating:
8.7
Back Nine Rating:
9.3
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Service is top notch and some of the best we have experienced. The pro shop is well stocked, the practice facilities are excellent, and the restaurant serves a wide variety of very good food for breakfast and lunch. Annika Sorenstam's ANNIKA Academy is adjacent to the courses and offers a variety of lessons and clinics to help you score better.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.