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Play Away: Watson's Orlando

Tom Watson, course designer, is not nearly as prolific as Tom Watson, course devourer. No army of architects or overlapping projects for him; Watson crafts just a few layouts a year. His latest effort, the Independence Course at Reunion Resort & Club of Orlando, proves the power of his singular vision.

Watson visited the Independence site more than a dozen times to review construction of the front nine alone. The resulting layout, a 7,257-yard parkland par seventy-two, embraces what is, for the area, some lively terrain—with tee-to-green elevation changes up to forty-five feet, which qualify as mountainous in central Florida. Its fiendishly placed fairway bunkers also demand a clear head throughout. "On the Independence, as with all my courses, when I design a hole I attempt to make it look either harder or easier than it really is, to test the golfer's accuracy in perception and judgment," Watson told T&L Golf.

Golf is clearly the priority at Reunion: Both the Watson course and one by Arnold Palmer are opening up long before the hotel, which has yet to break ground. So for now, only those interested in buying homes or property (sites start at $150,000, residences at $300,000) can preview the courses, although it's also possible to rent from a current resident and earn your Independence that way.

To rent a residence, call 407-662-1000. For real estate, call 888-300-2434 or visit reunionresort.com.

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