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Hunter's Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida: A beauty being primped to perfection

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There is always a possibility you could eagle the first hole at Hunter's Creek Golf Club, a 415-yard par 4. Well, it's possible. Not to insult your game, but the better possibility is to see an eagle on the opening hole.

"There are two dead trees near the lake on the left, and we are not going to cut them down," said C.W. Woods, general manager at Hunter's Creek G.C. "There are three bald eagles who live in those trees. We've seen them swoop down to catch fish in their talons."

Not many golf courses this close to the Orlando International Airport and the Walt Disney World Resort can say they have bald eagles on their property. Add white cranes, hawks and turkey vultures and one might think Hunter's Creek is an aviary.

It's not that, but the wildlife on this 25-year-old Lloyd Clifton design is worth noting, along with the major commitment the new management company, OB Sports, has to bringing this solid 7,268-yard track back to life.

"It had been in a state of disrepair," said Woods, "and we need to keep improving. But lately we're getting a lot of ‘wow' from the regulars. Hunter's is in the best shape it's been in years."

Hunter's Creek is a real gem that just needs a little more tender loving care. The design is truly a player's course, a solid track that can test the best golfers. A number of the mini-tours in Florida play at Hunter's, but with six sets of tees, anyone can enjoy this layout. Probably the most popular tees are the greens, measuring just less than 6,500 yards.

This set-up gives the golfer a good mix of short and long holes, requiring your best course management, especially on the short par-4 12th. It's 319 yards from the green tees, doglegs left to a fairway full of bumps and humps, and finishes at a tiny green. The 12th is everything a good golf hole should be.

But you don't have to wait until the back nine to find excellent holes. There is no doubt you'll be talking about the 570-yard (from the green tees), par-5 second. First, you have to bomb your tee shot to get it to the dogleg, then the fairway narrows to a kidney-shaped green that is only seven-paces wide at the front opening. The green is not just tiny, it's teeny-weeny and forces the golfer to make an approach shot with the accuracy of an archer.

Hunter's admittedly needs to continue to fine-tune its facility. "Conditioning is the key now," said Woods. "But we are going in the right direction."

The course could use a few more yardage markers around the tee boxes and repairs to some of the high-faced bunkers. The clubhouse is modest and could stand an interior-design update.

But the facility has a large range, a good-size putting green and a layout that management believes it is primping to perfection. "I like where we're going," Woods added.

And the golfer will like the price. With so many courses in and around Orlando demanding greens fees more than $100 during the high season, Hunter's Creek is just $79. It also offers plenty of coupons and specials, and cuts its rates considerably in the summer months.

"We know the economy has sliced into the customer's golf budget," said Woods. "We have to compete for what's out there, and we think we can with a course that is only getting better."

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