ORLANDO, Fla. – With tree-lined fairways and manicured greens, Disney World’s Palm and Magnolia golf courses were the settings for the golfing greats trying to make their dreams come true one week a year for more than 40 years.
From 1971 to 2012, Disney World was an annual PGA Tour stop. Commonly and affectionately known as “The Disney Classic,” the tournament drew the biggest names in golf to Central Florida in the fall.
Arnold Palmer is said to have been the first to sign up for the tournament, but it was his chief rival who set the tournament record for most wins.
Jack Nicklaus won it in 1971, 1972, and 1973. The impressive list of champions also includes Tiger Woods and Davis Love III. Winners would walk away with a trophy, a money prize, and a tournament experience uniquely Disney. Several participants would spend the evenings in the theme parks with their families, then compete in the tournament the next morning.
Just as the Disney Classic’s run at a PGA Tour stop was nearing its end in 2012, Arnold Palmer Golf Management took over the direction of Disney’s four courses in Central Florida. Mr. Palmer, who never won the Disney Classic, redesigned the Palm Course himself, ensuring a championship experience for the public to enjoy for years to come. Now, 250,000 rounds of golf are played at Disney’s four courses every year, making it the busiest golf stop in Central Florida.
As golfers wish upon a par, Disney Golf says its goal is to be “The Happiest Place on Turf.”