A few months ago, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at the Mission Inn Resort located just outside Orlando, Florida in Howey-In-The-Hills. Mission Inn features two 18-hole championship golf courses, El Campeón and Las Colinas. 2017 is a special year for Mission Inn as they are celebrating their 100th year anniversary. The El Campeón course was designed and built in 1917 by Chicago-based course architect, George O’Neil with further enhancements made in 1926 by Charles E. Clarke of Troon, Scotland. El Campeón is one of Florida’s oldest golf courses, its blend of classic golf course architecture and unusual elevation changes provided by the Howey-In-The-Hills topography has allowed the course to stand the test of time.
The past 100 years has seen Howey-in-the-Hills evolve from a citrus metropolis to a vibrant resort community that provides guest with exquisite dining, challenging golf and amazing fishing and boating on beautiful Lake Harris. The team at Mission Inn have done an amazing job building a guest experience sure to please not only golfers but anyone looking to experience all that Florida offers. In fact, Mission Inn is a very popular wedding destination amongst Orlando residents. Many guests come to challenge the 36 holes of championship golf and indulge themselves at Spa Marbella. For guests that want to explore outside the resort, you’re only a few minutes away from an authentic German bakery and Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards. Up for a charming drive through the countryside, the lakeside town of Mt. Dora known for quaint shops, alfresco dining and live entertainment is only 20 minutes away.
With all the amenities, it’s no secret why Mission Inn has become Central Florida’s go-to destination for wedding parties, corporate retreats, and of course golfers. In fact, in 2015 Golf Advisor ranked El Campeón the second-best course in the nation. Keep in mind that Golf Advisor rankings are determined by thousands of reviews from avid golfers, it’s an impressive compliment. While we might not all agree that El Campeón is the second-best golf course in the nation, we can easily see why the course consistently scored well amongst the thousands of golfers that played and reviewed the course. For Florida residents, El Campeón represents a unique experience with elevation changes uncommon to most Florida golf courses. Combine that with good course conditions and a more than reasonable green fee, it’s no wonder why so many golfers are pleased.
The other half of the golf equation at Mission Inn is Las Colinas, a Gary Koch design opened in 1992, Spanish for “the hills”, Las Colinas offers quite a different challenge from El Campeón. The course features an inland links design with generous, wide-open fairways, gentle rolling hills and large, undulating greens. Las Colinas is the easier of the two courses at Mission Inn but don’t get me wrong, it’s no push-over. The wider fairways make it easier to stay out of trouble but the course still presents plenty of challenge. In fact, the signature hole is “Alligator Alley”, the par 5, 12th hole that spans 493 yards along a tree-lined fairway where any wayward shot will be absolutely punished.