As golf works to re-define itself in efforts to maintain players and attract new players, practice facilities are becoming more prominent. Not necessarily the Topgolf model that basically is an entertainment complex that incorporates hitting bays, but the high-end practice facilities that serve as the “carrot’’ to attract serious players and players who might simply want to get out and play for a few holes.
That’s the type of practice facility that’s been created at the Tranquilo Golf Club at The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The club’s new 16-acre, $2.5 million practice facility features a double-ended driving range with a two-acre natural grass tee box, a chipping and putting area totaling 14,000 square feet, greenside and fairway practice bunkers, a 13,000 square-foot putting green and a six-hole, Par 3 course.
The practice facility, designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio and his son, Logan, certainly is “Four Seasons’’ worthy. Tranquilo is the renovated version of Fazio’s original Osprey Ridge course that opened in 1991.
“At the time it was built, it was hard to believe it could substantially better,’’ Tom Fazio said. “Fortunately that’s the way it has worked out. This (the new practice facility) is a wonderful addition. This is a special place for people to come and enjoy the game.’’
The practice facility’s opening coincides with this month’s transition of Tranquilo from a course that was open to the public to one that now is available only to club members and guests of The Four Seasons Orlando.
As he looked out over the six-hole practice course, Thomas Steinhauer, regional vice president and GM of The Four Seasons Orlando, said, “If you look at this particular facility, it’s very unique. We wouldn’t be able to do it without a top of the line resort.’’
Will the practice facility – arguably the best in the Orlando area – create new business and retain current business for the 443-guestroom resort?
“That’s not the main objective, but it will have the benefit,’’ Steinhauer told me. “There are great private clubs through the U.S. and internationally. This will entice people from those clubs to come here and play. I really do think people appreciate it when you keep it smaller and more exclusive.’’