Ultimate Value: When is the best month for an Orlando golf trip?

Orlando has no such thing as an "off-season." In the United States, only Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than Orlando, and only Phoenix-Scottsdale has more course reviews on Golf Advisor.

Central Florida locals jostle with droves of visitors over coveted tee times at top public and resort courses near Walt Disney World, Universal Studios or the Orange County Convention Center. Or, they ditch the crowds and resort green fees and head off the beaten path towards Clermont or Ocala or Lakeland.

It would be easy to simply say the peak golf season in Orlando is in the winter. After all, the PGA Merchandise Show attracts tens of thousands of golf industry insiders in late-January.

But I wanted to look a little deeper and see when golf courses are truly at their peak in The City Beautiful.

This isn't my first data dive for GolfPass, but I felt Orlando represented a unique dynamic, so I looked at our ratings a little differently. Central Florida has so many resident golfers that I don't feel that they have the same expectations a tourist would. Locals can usually slide under the peak tourist rates and are also generally more tolerant of the region's muggy summers.

With this in mind, I took a sample of a dozen resort and higher-end public courses — courses that would be great picks when visiting the area — and filtered their averages by month. I decided to separate reviews by in-state and out-of-state golfers.

Since you're probably reading this as a golf traveler considering an Orlando golf trip (or a family vacation with golf on the side), let's start with the non-resident averages month-to-month:

As courses enter the meat of peak season in February, it's clear to see that courses struggle to maintain strong value scores.

On the contrary, summertime is a very busy tourist season in Orlando since school is out, but that doesn't stop out-of-state golfers from playing. And surprisingly, ratings are pretty high.

You'll notice one of the biggest differences between Phoenix and Orlando is the conditioning swings of the desert are far greater month to month. Desert courses often bake out their turf in the month leading up to overseeding and then their transition periods are much longer (you couldn't bake out the fairways if you tried in precipitous Florida). In the desert climate of Phoenix, conditioning ratings nose dive in June and October. Yet in Orlando, conditioning scores never really crater. Courses normally only close for a week or so in the fall, not 3-4 weeks like Arizona resort courses.

As for whether summer golf is more pleasant in a "dry heat" vs. the central Florida's slow-cooker, I suppose that's a matter of personal taste.

How Florida residents' ratings differ from non-residents


I wanted to include Pace of Play ratings in this chart because busy winter golf destinations can struggle with pace of play, especially in the winter months when they're trying to cram in as many tee times as they can during a small daylight window.

That dynamic is certainly in effect in Orlando. Clearly, with daylight at a premium and tourist play at its highest, residents are no fan of pace of play in February and March.

The verdict on when to take a golf trip to Orlando

For snowbirds, the data tells us that Orlando golf is more favorable in December and January than February-April. Even though summer ratings are quite good (thanks mainly to great value), we're not about to tell you that August is the best month for a golf trip to Orlando. But clearly, golfers love the idea of lower green fees and fewer foursomes on the course, as is reflected in August's pace-of-play ratings as well as value. (Maybe golfers are also trying to play as fast as possible so they can and zip over to the pool.)

From a golf course operator perspective, management might benefit golfers by stepping up their course marshaling efforts in the winter. They could theoretically attract a lot more play if they earn a reputation as a course where you can get around in four hours.

I had one final question: If pace of play is such a sore spot in Orlando, which facilities are managing their tee sheet during peak season the best? I looked at pace of play average ratings of championship, 18-hole courses from December-March to find out, and there is a clear-cut favorite:

Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons has a stellar score for primetime pace at 4.6/5. There are no other 18-hole championship courses that come remotely close to this average. Next in line is Crooked Cat at Orange County National (4.2), followed by the relatively new Championsgate Country Club, Waldorf Astoria Golf Club and the National Course at Omni Championsgate and both courses at Mission Inn Resort & Club, all of which are 4.1/5.

So, how do the averages stack up compared to your personal experiences in Orlando? When is your favorite time to play golf there? Let us know in the comments below.

August 17, 2019
Check out the best months to visit more top destinations from Phoenix-Scottsdale to Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Orlando golf packages

Golf Packages
ORLANDO, FL | Enjoy 3 nights' accommodation at The Fountains Resort Orlando and 4 rounds of golf at Celebration Golf Club, Orange County National, Shingle Creek Golf Club and Falcons Fire Golf Club.
Golf Packages
FROM $37 (USD)
Golf Packages
FROM $77 (USD)
Golf Packages
FROM $157 (USD)
Golf Packages
FROM $197 (USD)

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
1 Comments
Default User Avatar
Commented on

Play the mission in resort in April 1st week of April and the course was in fabulous shape and we played in just under 4 hours for 4 people

Related Links

We looked at your ratings and reviews of golf courses in and around the Carolina Sandhills to determine what month is the best for a golf vacation.
4 Min Read
We looked at ratings and review data on Golf Advisor to determine the best values in Las Vegas, as well as the best months to plan a golf vacation.
3 Min Read
We looked at your review data to determine the best time of year for a golf trip to Phoenix-Scottsdale.
3 Min Read
More from the author
5 Min Read
December 7, 2021
It may be the private club capital of Florida, but golfers endorse these public-access courses.
4 Min Read
December 3, 2021
It's never been easier to design custom hats, golf balls, clubs, headcovers and more.
2 Min Read
November 30, 2021
It's possible this little ditty finds you scooping up the last bit of cranberry pie crumbs out of the tray. Thanksgiving may have passed but the effects of celebratory eating around the table, and also possibly social imbibing during all the various football games throughout the weekend, are sticking with us. To our bellies and elsewhere.
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
12 Min Read
November 18, 2021
Golfers can choose from a wide variety of portable launch monitor price points and user experiences. Here is what's new and the best ones to consider to improve your golf.
7 Min Read
November 9, 2021
Our community loves the value and experience at these popular and affordable military facilities and even book online.
Popular
3 Min Read
November 7, 2022
A club fitting with the TaylorMade Performance Center at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy can help you find a new favorite club.
2 Min Read
November 20, 2022
New innovation brings unique products to improve the life of golfers.
7 Min Read
November 18, 2022
We cover every price point to make sure your favorite golfers get the gift they want this holiday season.
Load More
Now Reading
Ultimate Value: When is the best month for an Orlando golf trip?