Hawk’s Landing is another Marriott course, more specifically it is associated with the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort. It was a bit odd when I realized that that both of the courses in Florida that I played on this trip were associated with a Marriott hotel, but I didn’t think anything about it when booking the times. The course and hotel are located just off of I-4 in Orlando which make them easy to get to and we actually passed by the course on our way back from Grande Pines the day before. From the get go, the course had an uppity feel to it when I pulled into the parking lot. The course isn’t too far from the hotel, and because it is an upscale hotel, there was gated parking where I thought I should park. I didn’t know if the lot for the course parking was in a different place, but as it turns out, I was looking at the correct, gated lot. I didn’t want anyone to valet park my car as I’d rather keep my $10 or $20 and ended up getting the proshop to have someone open the gate before and after the round. It caused a bit of confusion with that experience.
I played Griffin Gate in Kentucky last year which is another course that is owned by the Marriott and liked it. That course was a little cramped for space and Hawk’s Landing turned out to be even more so. I will touch on that more later on in the review. We played Black tees which play 6602/72.6/131 but the course plays a bit tougher because it is a par 71. I like the par 71’s with five par 3’s and four 5’s which is how Hawk’s Landing is setup. The course definitely has a “tourist” feel to it with the palm trees and the domestic landscaping throughout the course. I wouldn’t have minded playing the course when all the flowers are blooming as I think it would look really nice. Even without a bunch of color the course was very easy on the eye. The course mixed it up with the features and there seemed to be quite a bit of everything. There were short and long holes, open and narrow holes, some mounding, and plenty of water hazards in play. Considering the small size of the land where the course is located I found it surprising that many of the greens were good sized.
The course is in a very busy section of Orlando and not a course that I would recommend if someone is looking for peace and quiet. The front nine runs away from the hotel towards I-4 and then works its way back to the hotel before the back nine has a few holes that play through some vacation condos. There is a lot of road noise from I-4 and the 8th hole gets too close to the interstate for my liking. It is close enough that I could see some cars crashing through the fence if an accident happened on that stretch of road. Then the 9th hole and 18th holes run parallel to the exit road off I-4 where the speed limit is probably 45 or 55 mph. If that isn’t enough, there was noise from low flying helicopters (which I assume were tour helicopters). These things allowed for many distractions. Because there is a small amount of land for the course, the holes are squished together which made for some discussion with my friend. On a couple holes we parked the cart and walked back 40 or 50 yards to get to our tee box. After playing the 11th hole we drove the cart backwards on the cart path maybe 20 yards headed into play from the group behind before the cart path took us to the 12th tee. This made it seem like the designer just threw up his hands given the size of the area for the course.
The course actually starts out with tough holes and before getting a little easier. The 1st is a 426 yard par 4 where the tee shot is played to the corner of the dogleg (except for the big hitters who can carry the bunkers) and I had a long iron into the green. The 2nd is a 182 yard par 3 which was another long iron before the 3rd plays as a 387 yard par 4. The distance isn’t the big concern on the 3rd, but the hole puts an emphasis on accuracy. The tee shot has water right so I missed left and my only option was to pitch the ball back to the fairway from some trouble. Then the 2nd shot (or my 3rd shot!) is played into a green with a big ridge in the center and there is more water right. The 4th is a 535 yard par 5 that moves right around some condos and it seemed that they could easily come into play with a slice. The fairway is split into sections and there is water in play on every shot. I quickly found myself with few bogies to begin the round. The course allows for some birdie holes once getting to the 5th before there are some fun holes on the back nine. The 11th is a 390 yard par 4 with some water that comes into play on the 2nd shot, but it offered a place to miss left of the green. I hit it left of the green and had a tough chip. I did good just to get it to about 10 feet. The 12th is a par 4 with a big forced carry and has a waste bunker down the left side which could catch balls before they go into the water. The next hole of note is the 15th which is a 142 yard par 3 with water left of the green. I like a short par 3 and found myself wanting to fire at a sucker pin on the left side of the green. The 18th is a long par 5 which needs a 3rd shot judged perfectly on the distance to get it on the shallow green.
We paid $66 for a mid-morning time and I expected that the course would be in a little better shape given that it is peak season. The greens were patchy in some spots, sanded in others, and I could see some longer blades of grass too. They looked crusty with the some higher parts burned, almost like something that would be found in the summer. However, they rolled fine and were speedy, but they just didn’t look right. Overall the tees were decent but a couple tees didn’t have much grass on them. The fairways were fine, but seemed a little thin in spots. I am not sure if that is because of the winter grass that the course uses, but I noticed that Grande Pines too. I wouldn’t let the conditions keep me away, but the routing of the holes would most likely keep me from coming back if I lived in the area as there are better choices nearby.
#18 green looking back: