Zellwood Station Golf Club - A Central Florida Secret Too Good to be Kept

Zellwood Station Golf Club Despite an ideal location mere minutes from downtown Orlando and a short half-hour’s drive from the area’s theme parks, Zellwood Station Golf Club has enjoyed its reputation as one of the best kept golf secrets in Central Florida.

That distinction, however, is likely to change in the coming months as Zellwood undergoes some exciting changes and upgrades to its classic layout and course amenities that are sure to increase its notoriety and attention and finally ensure it a place among the most requested and respected facilities in Orlando. Tucked away in the rolling hills northeast of Apopka just off Highway 441, Zellwood Station is anything but your typical Florida golf course. Hilly terrain, significant elevation changes and treelined fairways provide a unique feel and significant challenges to the semi-private golf club.

That experience will be greatly enhanced later this year with the opening of four new holes on the front nine. As part of a land swap with a local developer, Zellwood Station is replacing holes two through five on the outward nine, providing a slightly new routing to the layout, some additional yardage and a significantly improved golf course for longtime members and visitors to the course, which is located in the heart of the gated Zellwood Station community.

Zellwood StationWhile it’s fair to say that Zellwood Station wasn’t in desperate need of four new holes, the changes will certainly enhance the playing experience while keeping intact the character of the layout and the popular seven or eight holes that have really made this course a local “must play.” What’s more, there will be no interruption to play at Zellwood while the new holes are being built. The project started this past spring and will continue through the summer. In addition to the new holes, Zellwood will also get a new 10,000-square-foot practice facility that will include a driving range and a putting green, which will replace the course’s current game improvement area.

“Outside of one or two holes, golfers won’t even recognize that the work is going on out here,” said Christopher C. Tyler, Zellwood Station’s head golf professional. “But when it’s done, the golf course will be that much better and enjoyable for our guests.”

While Zellwood is among the most unique courses in Central Florida, that character hasn’t been created artifi cially, but rather by capitalizing on the beautiful park-like terrain the course was built upon and by utilizing a large cavernous dry lake that highlights a handful of holes on the back nine. Always in stellar condition, the course features many holes with significant climbs and drops in elevation, a set of slick, sloping greens that invite a variety of approach shots and tree-lined fairways that require accuracy over distance. In fact, while water comes into play on no less than six of the 18 holes, there isn’t one significant forced carry at Zellwood Station, making it an enjoyable course for all skill levels.

“It’s not at all what people have come to expect from a Florida golf course because of the elevation changes,” Tyler said. “ It’s a challenge from all tees but it will not beat you up if you choose the right ones.”

Any discussion about the layout at Zellwood Station must begin with the five holes in the center of the inward nine that have earned the apt moniker of “Crater Junction.” Beginning with the par-3 12th and ending with the short par-4 16th, Crater Junction is a five-pack of holes that wrap around a large dry lake that comes into play on every one of the holes.

Zellwood Station

This collection of holes is so popular that a sign warns players not to re-play the “Junction” when walking off the 16th hole. After navigating the crater holes, you’ll fully understand the need for the sign.

Starting with the relatively short 347-yard par-4 13th, the crater looms ominously to the golfer’s left for the next four holes. Golfers looking to score on this stretch better take advantage of 13 as dry tee shot will leave a short iron to a long green guarded in front by a pair of bunkers. If the 13th is about scoring, the 14th is about nerves and survival.

At 498 yards from the tips, 14 is the shortest of Zellwood Station’s four par 5s; but don’t mistake short for easy. A classic risk-reward hole, No. 14 wraps around the crater, which plays to the left along the length of the hole. The brave golfers among us will challenge the crater on the second shot to either reach the green or leave a short approach. Conservative players will avoid the dry lake and leave a challenging mid-iron into a small green that is, yet again, protected on the left by the crater and to the right by a large bunker.

Zellwood Station

At just 300 yards, the 15th is the second shortest par 4 on the course, but a set of cross bunkers about 40 yards in front of the green will make driver a dicey option for most players. An iron or 5-wood off the tee will keep the ball short of the bunkers and likely out of the hazard left) and leaves a short iron to an inviting green.

The final test of “Crater Junction” is a fitting one in the 383-yard par-4 16th. Like the 14th, the tight 16th fairway wraps around the right of the hazard that runs all the way up to the green that is guarded in the front by a pair of bunkers. For some, the closing putt on 16 will signify survival of “Crater Junction” while others will be sorry the test is complete; since, as the sign says, there is no free re-play of this amazing stretch of holes.

While for many the highlight of Zellwood Station is, indeed, the experience of “Crater Junction” the clamor around this course come the fall will almost certainly center on the new holes. While the par will remain 72, Tyler expects the new holes to provide new challenges and an increased level of excitement around Zellwood Station.

Zellwood StationThe change will also keep intact one of Zellwood’s most acclaimed holes in the daunting 561-yard par-5 ninth. Aptly titled “Train Wreck,” this hole will go a long way toward determining success or failure on the opening nine. Featuring the toughest tee shot on the course, nine features a tight, tree-lined fairway that is protected to the left by a large lake. One of the few significant doglegs at Zellwood, the second shot must navigate a sharp turn to the left to set up a clear approach to an elevated green guarded left and right by bunkers.

A semi-private facility, Zellwood Station Golf Club offers a number of different membership opportunities to both residents and non-residents of the community it calls home. For more information on those programs or to get current rates, visit www.zellwoodgolf.com.

Whether it’s for a single day or a more lasting relationship, experience the “new” Zellwood Station this year, and you’ll discover what we’ve known for quite some time; some secrets are just too good to remain that way.

 

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