Walt Disney World’s famed Magnolia Golf Course is undergoing the most extensive redesign in its 51-year history.
Located across from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the course was designed by Joe Lee and is aptly named for its more than 1,500 magnolia trees. With tee boxes ranging from 5,127 to 7,516 yards from the tips (par 72), it is the longest of the four Disney golf courses.
The redesign, led by One Club Limited and its head golf course designer Ken Baker, is reconfiguring several of the course’s finishing holes – No. 14, 15, 16 and 17 – that played roles in many exciting finishes during the course’s 42 years on the PGA Tour calendar. Additionally, the Magnolia’s 18 greens are being upgraded to create an even more pristine putting experience. The new-look Magnolia is expected to reopen later this year during the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort.
“We’ve assembled an incredible team that is devoted to creating the best possible experience for our guests from around the globe who travel here for a championship caliber golf vacation,” said Bruce Gerlander, general manager of Arnold Palmer Golf Management, which operates the Walt Disney World golf courses. “For more than four decades, Disney’s Magnolia served as a favorite stop on the PGA Tour and we have been methodically planning for this massive project for years.”
Here is how each of the finishing holes will be reimagined:
Hole 14 – Currently a par 5, will become a par 4, with a new green location
Hole 15 – Currently a par 3, will shift location and become a long par 5 with a dogleg to the right
Hole 16 – Will shift location and remain a par 4, but will now have a dogleg to the left
Hole 17 – Currently a par 4, will become a par 3, with new tee box locations
Also, holes 16 and 17 will be connected by a newly-constructed cart bridge through the forest, creating picturesque nature views for golfers traveling between those holes. And several fairway and greenside bunkers are being enhanced, as well as several new tee boxes added to test every level of player. The Magnolia course was last changed in 2015 when its bunkers and cart paths were upgraded.
“These are going to be dramatic changes to the Magnolia course that will create a playing experience that will be challenging yet fun for all golfers,’’ said Faron Kelley, vice president of Disney Sports. “We know our guests expect a magical experience every time they come to play golf at Walt Disney World and this redesign is part of our ongoing commitment to achieve that for every golfer who steps up to that first tee.’’
Masters winner (2017) Sergio Garcia and 2019 US Open Champion Gary Woodland – recently got a sneak peek at the redesign and each walked away impressed.
“It will be amazing. The 15th (becoming) a big par 5; 16 is a long par 4 and they’ve brought in water perfectly,’’ Woodland said. “You’re going to have four closing holes down the stretch that will test every aspect of your game. It will be a great finish here at Magnolia.”
Added Garcia: “It’s a fun course to play. When (golfers) finish their rounds, they can’t wait to come back and I think that’s something the Magnolia course will have.’’
More than a decade ago, the Walt Disney World Resort and Arnold Palmer Golf Management (APGM) launched a 20-year strategic alliance underpinned by a commitment to continually upgrade and enhance the Walt Disney World Golf experience for all visitors. The Magnolia course’s major redesign follows substantial course changes to Disney’s Palm Golf Course in 2013, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course in 2014 and 2018 and Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course in 2018.
Photo Credit Walt Disney World Resort