Sweetwater Golf & Country Club's 18-hole Highlands Course weaves over 6,771 yards of fairways and greens stitched by mature oaks. The player-friendly, par 72 course puts clubbers face to face with the Loch Ness Monster—which is the name bestowed upon the course's signature hole, a 625-yard par five that double-doglegs around a lake. Golfers can prepare for their round with a stint at the club's driving range, where practice balls await to be launched in the stratosphere while commenting on the tense relationship between golf balls and sheets of glass. The club fosters more competitive fun at its tennis complex, which boasts eight lighted, outdoor Har-Tru—green clay—tennis courts.
After a day spent reading putts or thrashing forehands, guests can unwind at one of the club's three dining facilities. The relaxed vibes of the Fife & Drum Pub and the Carnoustie Café welcome casually-clad guests fresh off the course, and the more formal, chandelier-lit confines of the Highlands Dining Room provides an apropos backdrop for dinner parties or a romantic setting for date night for golfers and their caddy.
When picking the location for the championship course at Zellwood Station Golf Club, architect George Maddox discovered hilly terrain not often seen at Floridian links. He made the most of this undulating ground as he designed four doglegs that loop around a dry lake, nicknamed Crater Junction, and also devised a treacherous ninth hole. Known as the Train Wreck, this obstacle is infamous for its long fairway and sharp dogleg left. Today, head golf professional Christopher C. Tyler presides over the course’s bermuda-grass fairways and its expansive greens, which putt fast and true. Before facing down the landscape, golfers can figure out which of their balls are afraid of heights by sending them flying from one of a dozen hitting stations at the driving range.
Despite its impressive course and welcoming clubhouse, Zellwood Station Golf Club isn’t resting on its laurels; the club has plans to debut four new holes, a 10,000-square-foot practice chipping-and-putting facility, and a new driving range before the end of 2012.
The Links at 434 snakes a par 3 course over open fields dotted with sand traps and towering lights that provide an illuminated course as late as 10 p.m. Before taking the course, golfers can warm up by chipping onto a practice green and rifling off range balls from natural-grass tees or one of 10 covered hitting bays that shield players from the pressure-inducing gaze of the moon. From the first tee, golfers' short- to midrange games are tested by narrow fairways and difficult approach shots onto greens reminiscent of Mother Earth's curiously shaped amoebas. The longest hole stretches to 185 yards, putting added pressure on short-iron play, and three sets of tees help to make the course playable for golfers of all abilities.
Each day, golf carts trundle over wooden bridges, their wheels thwacking against each plank as they cross the myriad waterways that dot Alaqua Country Club's 18-hole layout. Designed by golf legend Gary Player, the 6,662-yard course is sculpted through tunnels of 55-foot trees and incorporates water hazards that come into play on 16 holes. One shining example is the par 3 hole 13 with an island green that tests golfers' iron play and ability to use those same clubs to fight off feral caddies that use flagsticks as swords. Surrounded by the Lower Wekiva Preserve State Park, the course enchants golfers with palms draped in billowing spanish moss and occasional sightings of deer and wild turkeys.
Alaqua Country Club's new, adobe-accented clubhouse offers weekly dining specials served to tables draped in white linens, where guests can unwind after rounds or fold burgundy napkins into festive new club head covers.
For more than 25 years, The Dive Station has led PADI-certified scuba courses and graduated more than 3,500 students. Their courses range in scope, and include open water certification, advanced open water certification, nitrox diver, rescue diver, and specialty diver courses. They also lead divemaster courses for aspiring pros who wish to take scuba to a professional level, and cave-diving courses for explorers who wish to chart the unknown and possibly glimpse a grizzly bear taking a bath. The Dive Station stays active in the diving community, leading guided diving trips to local spots and exotic international locales such as Puerto Rico, Honduras, and Turks and Caicos.
At Dance Centers of Orlando, instructors work to foster an atmosphere of inclusion and support, helping kids to develop a strong sense of self-confidence to complement their fancy footwork. In each of the three studios, instructors fuse choreographed routines, dance combinations, and technical exercises into curricula focused on styles ranging from ballet and tap to hip-hop and martial arts. The studio's Marley sprung floors support little twinkle toes, helping to prevent injury. As the youths hone their skills, their parents can observe their progress on closed-circuit TVs or search the web via free WiFi to find the best ways to make nutcrackers come to life.