The International Golf Club, Tavares, Florida (Orlando)

The 18th at the International Golf Club, Tavares, FL
The 18th at the International Golf Club, Tavares, FL. Photo Courtesy of International Golf Club, Tavares, FL

The folks who know the International, formerly the Deer Island Golf Club, in Tavares do say that it's "Central Florida's most unforgettable golf experience," and I have no problem at all with that. It is indeed one of the nicest and reasonably-priced, golf courses I've visited in the Greater Orlando area. The International golf course was designed in 1994 by Joe Lee, arguably one of the best golf course architects of his time. It certainly is a terrific golf course, well maintained, easy on the eye, and was designed for golfers of all levels of handicap.

The layout plays 6,850 yards from the back tees for a par of 72 with a course rating of 73.1 and a slope of 139, and it can play a little tough, but with five sets of tees the International offers golfers of all every levels a chance at a good score.

The golf course is a seemingly remote world of stunning panoramic views and Florida wetlands bursting with wildlife. Wild and windswept would not be an unfair description of this classic Joe Lee layout, but on a calm and balmy day it could easily be described as golfer's heaven. The golf course is maintained in pristine condition; the fairways are easy to hit, but with water present, and in play, on almost on every hole, and with Joe Lee's signature finger style, bunkering guarding every hole, Deer Island is a "golf course with true character." Joe Lee himself said, it's "the most unique course I ever designed." The best kept secret in Central Florida?

It could well be; it's certainly worth adding to the bucket list.

Deer Island is less than 45 minutes from Orlando and The Villages, and only minutes away from downtown Mount Dora with its historic shopping and antique district.

Green Fees: Monday through Friday you can expect to pay $30 to $65 for 18 holes, depending upon the time of year; on weekends and holidays, the fee is $35 to $75. For reservations and tee times, call 352-343-7550 or visit the International Golf Club Website, or you can stop by anytime the shop is open. As always, green fees are subject to change, and should always call ahead to make sure you have the current rates.

Contact: The International Golf Club; 18000 Eagles Way, Tavares, FL 32778; Phone: 352-343-7550

Where to Stay:

There are a couple of options I can recommend (I have no affiliation with any of the hotels and resorts I recommend - recommendations are based on personal experience): I suggest you try DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at Sea World. It’s convenient to the course and to all the amenities in the Orlando area. Or you might like to consider the luxurious Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, the centerpiece of a magnificent 1,500-acre Resort with offers 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus-designed golf, an Equestrian Center, racquet club, nine-hole pitch and putt course, elegant dining at several restaurants, and abundant recreation.

Both are handy to the golf course and the two hotels offer a range of price options. Should you wish to try for something that might fit your budget a little better, you can also check out my Orlando area hotel guide: Orlando Hotel Guide

Golf Plus - In and Around Orlando

There are more golf courses and resorts in and around Orlando than anywhere else in Florida. During the past 40 years or so, the area and the sport has exploded. Today, there are more than 50 fine golf courses within 20 miles of the city center. To support these golf courses, there are a dozen or more grand resorts, some of them world-class in every sense of the words; Grand resorts, such as the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes and the home of the Mouse himself, Walt Disney World Resort, where you'll four amazing, championship golf courses to play.

All-in-all, we really do find ourselves spoiled for choice when considering a golf outing to Orlando. Here are more than 25 listings and in-depth reviews of some of the best Golf Courses and Resorts in Orlando.

How to Get There:

Orlando is served by the Orlando International Airport. The airport is served by all major US airlines, including United, Delta, Continental, US Air, AirTran, American, and Northwest, and by Air Canada and major airlines from Europe and the United Kingdom.