“The Winter Park Golf Course, or WP9 as the locals now call it, is one of the most unique models for municipal golf in America. A round of golf at the WP9 will take you across streets, around a cemetery, and right up to the front porch of some of the most charming homes in Florida. The course has always been memorable for its setting, but a recent renovation has resulted in a world class golf experience that every golfer should visit. I spent a day at the Winter Park Golf Course and my experience was a revelation.” — Jay Revell, Medium Magazine
The Winter Park Golf Course traces its origins to 1914 when Harley A. Ward and Dow George were commissioned to lay out a 9-hole course on 25 acres at the north end of Winter Park, a charming little suburb of Orlando created as a haven for snowbirds seeking more hospitable temperatures in the cold months.
Over the years, the course grew to as many as 27 holes, closed, became a sheep pasture, reopened and eventually settled into the current nine-hole layout. For a long time, it was a gentle, flat track known locally as “The Old Man Walking Course.” It lost so much money every year that there was a serious effort to turn it into a frisbee golf course (Personal Note: I actually saw the equipment for this potential change in the back of the pro shop. Thankfully, the items were never installed).
In 2015 Winter Park officials took a bold step. They ignored the advice of developers hungry to replace the course with more homes and instead invested $1.2 million in a renovation. Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns, a pair of associate designers for Coore-Crenshaw, won the bidding and stepped out as course architects for the very first time. The revitalized Winter Park Golf Course, opened in 2016, has been a spectacular success since Day One. It’s showcased constantly as one of the best nine-hole layouts in the country and has become an inspiring model of what a successful municipal course can be. Instead of losing six figures a year, it generates healthy profits, enjoys 40,000 rounds annually and is a source of great community pride. Also…it’s a lot of fun to play!
The Winter Park Golf Course is located at 561 West Webster Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. The Pro Shop phone number is (407) 599-3419.