On this episode we head to the iconic Bay Hill golf course in Orlando, Florida. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill is famously the home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational every year, and the former winter residence of the legendary Arnold Palmer. This is the venue where Tiger Woods has won an incredible eight times! Outside of tournament week members and guests are able to enjoy all Bay Hill has to offer; with lodges on site, numerous activities beyond golf, plus being a mere 10 minutes from Orlando’s main attractions. All of this makes Bay Hill a great golfing destination.
Bay Hill Golf Course Part 1
Bay Hill Locker Room
The average locker room tends to be pretty unexciting really, this couldn’t be further from the case at Bay Hill. The locker room here is also used by the professionals when the tournament comes to town, as a result every locker has at least one professional golfers name tag on it. Keep an eye out for Tiger’s, Rory’s, Phil’s lockers. The star attraction though is undoubtedly locker number 1. The name tag reads ‘Arnold Palmer,’ and you can open it! Inside, preserved like a time capsule is his locker exactly the way he left it. A shirt, visor, and trousers are on a hanger, shoes, glove and a dozen balls also rest in the locker. It’s remarkable, and really shows the respect the world has for Arnold Palmer that they can leave this locker open to the public.
Arnold Palmer Driver of the Deck 18th Hole Challenge
After our spiritual experience in the locker room we head out to the 18th hole at Bay Hill for a challenge. The 18th is an iconic golf hole, mainly for the second shot into the green, plus some extraordinary putting scenes from Tiger throughout the years. Fellow GP’s may remember Arnold Palmer hitting driver off the deck, onto the green during his last ever round in the API. What a golf shot that was. Granted, none of us possess Arnold Palmer’s skillset but we decided we’d give it a go. Hitting driver off the deck is a tough challenge in the first place, but especially on a hole with water in play, and just a slither of green to accommodate a stinging low golf ball. The prize for this challenge? A flag from this years Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament, worthy of hanging on any wall.
Bay Hill Members Bar
After the challenge we head back to the Clubhouse and relax in the member’s bar. It’s a beautiful old fashioned styled bar, with scents of leather and cognac in the air. Complete with a functioning fireplace, and some unique pieces of artwork on the walls, it makes an ideal spot for a post round refreshment. We enjoyed an Arnold Palmer iced tea (as one should at Arnold Palmer’s home) and reminisce on the events of the day thus far.
Bay Hill Culinary Favorites
Our final stop of the day is to the restaurant on site where we sample a few dishes prepared by their sous chef, Mike. The restaurants at Bay Hill serve a variety of dishes, some of which are favorites of Arnold and Winnie Palmer. There is a comfort food vibe to a lot of the dishes but they are packed with hearty flavor. We sample two dishes, one being a chicken pot pie which was one of Winnie Palmer’s recipes, and the other being an herb crusted salmon dish. Both were exceptional and Wade in particular took a severe liking to the salmon dish, we couldn’t separate him from it.
Bay Hill Golf Course Part 2
Bay Hill’s New Short Game Practice Facility
Most courses you visit will have a chipping green and maybe a practice bunker, but Bay Hill takes short game facilities to the next level. Having invested a huge amount into their new short game practice area, there are now two greens, a variety of bunkers (including a pot bunker), space for pitch shots up to 100 yards, and ample space to simulate every conceivable lie you would ever have on the course. Wade and Gabe struggle in the pot bunker to the amusement of everyone else, then we head to the course to play, with our short games sharpened.
18th Hole Putting Challenge
We return to the 18th hole for another challenge, this time to the putting green. This green has a long history of dramatic winning putts, most notably from Tiger Woods. With the pin tucked back right, it leaves a difficult left to right breaking putt that Tiger has made a handful of times to win at Bay Hill. We thought we would try and make the putt, how hard can it be it’s only a putt right? All I’ll say is it takes us more than one attempt….
Bay Hill Club Lodge & Sommelier
After an exciting putting contest, we retreat from the course and check out the on site lodges. These are available year round and there are always various stay and play packages available. The rooms are comfortable and have all the basic components you would expect of a resort room, the difference being your view is of Bay Hill.
Our final stop is a visit to the wine cellar opposite the main restaurant. They do have a much larger wine cellar, but it is not open for the public. We meet Lindsey who is a certified sommelier working at Bay Hill. Her role is fascinating as she meets members and guests alike and provides them with wines they will love based on their unique preferences and tastes. Bay Hill recently received a Wine Spectator award of excellence for their dining and wine options which is a prestigious accolade in the world of wine.