After a day of sightseeing with my family nearby in Mount Dora I was back in the area to check out a couple golf courses. There are a handful of courses, all within a few miles of each other, that looked decent.
RedTail was one of the courses I was considering and I booked an early morning tee time here on Wednesday. I managed to get the first tee time of the day, which always helps the cause for 36 holes during the shorter days. I didn’t know how busy the courses in this area would be, but I was hoping that by playing 30 minutes from Orlando that I wouldn’t have to suffer through a five hour round.
My plan went perfectly, as I played in a bit over three hours. I made sure to take my time since it was such a beautiful morning! I’m not entirely sure why so few golfers were out enjoying the morning. This area is less touristy than Orlando, so I bet that pesky thing called “work” kept everyone away.
RedTail is designed by David Harman, who did some other work in the Orlando area. Unfortunately, Harman passed away over 10 years ago but not before leaving a mark locally and internationally with his designs. He designed the Orange County National courses, Shingle Creek, and a few others in Central Florida. Harman might be best known for Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand, which seems like a stunning course from the pictures. That part of the world is one I’d love to get to someday with my clubs in tow! I played the Orange County National courses years ago, and then RedTail on this trip. From my experience, I think a Harman course is one that many can enjoy!
RedTail opened in 2004 and is a community course, like so many courses in Florida. Unless you are hitting it terrible, the homes shouldn’t come into play except maybe on the 10th hole. However, I think they do take away from the design. Still, all things considered it is going to be hard not to like the course! Even with the homes I think it has a pretty good look to it with lots of sand features, a lake, and positional trees. I’m not exactly sure what type of trees dot the course, but I’d guess most are oak trees.
I played the blue tees which are 73.0/139/6768 and from there RedTail was an adequate challenge. I didn’t feel the distance as the ball was jumping, but there are plenty of par 4’s over 400 yards from those tees. However, big hitters might need to lay back as fairways do tend to run out. When the cart attendant greeted me, he advised to keep the ball where I can see it and not to hit it past the 150 markers on four holes. If you air it out that much here then help yourself to the black tees which play over 7,100 yards!
You don’t have to drive the ball accurately here, just bring your sand same if you don’t! Bunkers are all over to catch drives and you have to be precise around the greens for a birdie putt. It was hard to get at some of the flags, as the sand had me scared of short siding it! Once on the greens, you probably can run in a few putts as the greens don’t have a significant amount of break. I had my best putting day of the year, taking just 25 putts. Sadly, most of those putts were for par!
The front nine is solid, but only the 7th hole stands out. The 7th is a 546 yard par 5 that has a marshy look to it. The drive needs to carry a hazard which runs up the right side of the hole. There is another hazard to the left, so try to hit your best drive of the day here! Then you are going to have to thread the needle again on the layup because the fairway is almost a little peninsula surrounded by trouble.
The back nine has more of the “thinking” holes and starts with the quirky 10th hole. The 10th is a par 4 that doglegs right around some homes. I hit my drive by the cart path and could have tried to go over someone’s home to get to the green. I bet they are glad I didn’t! The left side of the fairway leaves the best angle into the green try to hit it there. My advice is that it probably is best to layup on the 10th if you don’t have a comfortable shot at the green. The 12th is a par 5 that can be reached after a good drive, but that drive will have to split some oak trees. The 12th tee was one of my favorite spots at RedTail.
The closing holes are pretty good as the 14th through the 17th play around a lake and have a nice look to them. The 15th is a long par 3, where again you either have to split the oaks or carry them. There is a little more room than it appears from the tee, but that seems to be a common theme at RedTail. Visually, it is a tough course.
The conditions, except for the 7th hole which sits in that low spot I mentioned, were great. The greens were on the firm side, quick, and so so smooth! I have no idea how they were in such good shape for the price. The fairways had the divots that you’d expect for $35, but they looked great as the overseed was popping. There were a few spots of crabgrass in the rough. From what I saw, the maintenance crew has done a great job! If you look at my pictures you’ll see those clean mower cuts and the bright green fairways and tees.
Like many new courses that I play, RedTail isn’t my idea of a perfect design. I think I’ve become picky over the years though! I’m not a fan of visually tough courses, and don’t care for bunker shot after bunker shot, and don’t like saving the #1 handicap hole until the end of the round. On the flip side, the nice thing about the course is that you don’t have to play the perfect round in order to find your ball. Overall, RedTail was a good find and certainly worth checking out if you’d like to steer clear of the attraction courses closer to Orlando!
#1 (406 yard par 4):
#2 (469 yard par 5):
#3 (368 yard par 4):
#4 (180 yard par 3):
#5 (415 yard par 4):
#6 (186 yard par 3):
#7 (546 yard par 5):
#8 (406 yard par 4):
#9 (378 yard par 4):
#10 (414 yard par 4):
#11 (192 yard par 3):
#12 (504 yard par 5):
#13 (361 yard par 4):
#14 (376 yard par 4):
#15 (198 yard par 3):
#16 (413 yard par 4):
#17 (520 yard par 5):
#18 (436 yard par 4):