Bayhill Club and Lodge
Arnold Palmer first laid eyes on Bay Hill back in 1965 when he was invited to play a winter exhibition there against Jack Nicklaus. (He won the exhibition, by the way) Back then it was little more than a still-raw golf course with a tiny pro shop, small guest lodge and a few modest bungalows carved out of the orange groves and desolate brush of central Florida. It was a breathtaking wilderness area surrounded by pristine freshwater lakes and abundant wildlife.
For Arnold, Bay Hill was a golfer’s paradise. He had been looking for a quiet, out-of-the way place where he could retreat to every winter with his family. Arnold was so smitten with the course he raced home and told his wife Winnie, "Babe, I’ve just played the best course in Florida and I want to own it." But purchasing Bay Hill was easier said than done.
For several years Arnold leased Bay Hill with an option to buy. Then in 1974, the course owners struck a deal to sell the property to another bidder.
Arnold appealed directly to the new buyer who agreed to sell Bay Hill back to him. After a decade Bay Hill finally belonged to Arnold. Within 3 years, the PGA-sanctioned Bay Hill Invitational was born and Arnold was prepared to share his course with the world.
Over time, Arnold has remade Bay Hill to reflect his own style and taste. Arnold and design partner Ed Seay have worked feverishly to ensure that the Bay Hill Invitational remains a stiff test for the best touring pros. As a result of Arnold’s tinkering, today’s Bay Hill offers some of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour.
The Bay Hill course sweeps across 270 acres, bordered by its namesake community and the Butler Chain of Lakes. All 64 of the well-appointed and recently-renovated guestrooms at the Bay Hill Club are a short stroll from the first tee. The Bay Hill Club offers special amenities including a full-service spa, swimming, tennis, a private marina, and the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy.
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