Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando to Host Florida Open

The 2006 Florida Open Golf Championship will be conducted this week at Eagle Creek Golf Club in southeast Orlando. An estimated purse of $62,000 is up for grabs.

A full field of 144 players tees off Thursday in the 72-hole competition. The 36-hole cut will be made following Friday's play, with the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday. Colby Beckstrom of Naples won the 2005 tournament, and Tim Stieren of Palm Beach Gardens was the low amateur.

"Eagle Creek is an unusual layout compared to the typical Florida course," says tournament director Rick Whitfield. "It has great bunkering, it has some elevation change and there are several great risk-reward holes that should add excitement to the Florida Open. Ron Garl did a terrific job with Eagle Creek, and we are excited to come to a course we think will make for a great tournament."

Eagle Creek has hosted the national finals of the Buick Scramble, the Golf Channel's Drive Chip & Putt Junior Challenge, and several Florida State Golf Association competitions. The 7,198-yard design by Garl and Howard Swan has earned many honors in its two years, including being named among the top 10 new courses of the decade in Florida by Travel & Leisure.

The Florida Open's list of winners over the years reads like a who's who of great Florida-based players. It includes Dudley Hart (1990), Bruce Fleisher (1980, 87), Donnie Hammond (1982), Gary Koch (1969), Larry Mowry (1979, 1983), Gardner Dickinson (1952), and many others.

"The Florida Open is a great tradition in our state and Eagle Creek is proud to host such a prestigious event," said Eagle Creek Eagle Creek director of golf, Tony Crawford. "We think our course will present a test worthy of a state championship."

Whitfield is particularly excited that the 18th hole at Eagle Creek could be the deciding factor in the final round. The 18th hole was re-designed after the initial work had begun on the golf course, turning a par-4 into a risk-reward par-5. The change makes Eagle Creek the only par-73 layout in Orlando.

The 535-yard 18th tempts players to go for the deep ball off the tee in hopes of reaching the long, narrow putting surface in two. But the drive must carry fairway bunkers on the left, and avoid the water hazard on the right. The green is fronted by water, and slopes from back to front. So whether hitting a third shot after playing it safe, or gambling to reach in two, the approach shot must be struck with great accuracy to assure a two-putt.

"Our 18th always is the talk of the Belfry after rounds," said Crawford. "Along with the beauty of the hole with our clubhouse visible from start to finish, the challenge and excitement it creates is the perfect ending to a great round of golf."

For more information about Eagle Creek Golf Club, or to schedule a tee time, call 866-EAGLEGC, or visit www.eaglecreekgolf.com.