Course Review: Isleworth Golf & Country Club – September 7, 2022

I had the opportunity to play Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere, Florida in early September.  

The Club’s website describes the club as “(s)panning over 600 acres among Central Florida’s Butler Chain of Lakes, Isleworth is recognized as one of the most prestigious private golf communities in the world, featuring championship golf and a collection of amenities paired with extraordinary estate homes.”

I love golf and love playing new courses and I have never enjoyed such a golf experience as I did at Isleworth. 

PHOTO: Course Reviewer

Being a private club, it is extremely difficult to get on. I have a friend with connections at the club who vouched for me. 

Known as “the Augusta National of Florida,” the course was designed by Arnold Palmer, Ed Seay and Steve Smyers. 

Palmer still has an office over the golf shop which is now used as a meeting room for the members. 

Mr. Palmer is still a strong influence there and his locker is number 1.

Arnold Palmer’s Locker PHOTO: Course Reviewer

When we arrived at the club, it was apparent that security is very tight.  

We stopped at the gate and each of us had to provide identification and they crosschecked our names with the golf shop before we were allowed to proceed.

The Isleworth entrance PHOTO: Course Reviewer

When we were allowed in and drove up to the clubhouse, we drove past some of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen.  

A quick view on the internet shows currently available Isleworth homes for sale that start as about $2M up to $9M. 

One of its more famous former residents, Shaquille O’Neal, sold his 31,000 square foot Isleworth home on Butler Lake for $11MM in October of 2021, although he initially asked for $28MM. 

Another famous former resident, Tiger Woods, had a beautiful but more modest home in Isleworth. As you might have expected, Tiger’s home was very close to the course driving range – which is ¼ of a mile from the course.

Although Tiger now resides mainly in Jupiter, Florida, he remains a member of Isleworth and has locker number 8.

Tiger’s locker PHOTO: Course Reviewer

The course was built in 1986 and was later sold to the Tavistock Group that also purchased more adjacent land for luxury home development.  

When we arrived at the club, we were warmly greeted by our caddy, Joe, who also served as our host for the day.  We dropped off our bags, parked and then were given a tour by the assistant golf professional and given guest lockers. 

The locker room is exceptional large and the course is pleased and proud that over 40 PGA Tour members are also members of Isleworth.  Some of the prominent Tour members have a golf bag visibly displayed in the locker room.

The locker room attendant gave me a fascinating  tour and history of the course and membership and escorted me as I made my rounds to see some of the lockers ~ especially you-know-who who has number 8.

As we settled in, we allowed time for lunch before our 1:00 PM tee time. The menu was extensive. The food and service was terrific and the prices were very reasonable.

After lunch, we took carts with our clubs and drove to the driving range which is about ¼ of a mile from the 1st tee.

 On the range, the conditions are pristine and staff are there to clean your club immediately after you change to another. 

The Driving Range at Isleworth PHOTO: Course Reviewer

Fiji brand bottled water is everywhere.  The range balls are new Titleist Pro Vs and the only issue is that the range is only 285 yards long so not enough room for longer hitting professionals using a driver.

Allowing 10 minutes to practice putt, we make our way back to the 1st tee where a prominent statue of a Wall Street Bull separates the first and 10th tee.

Wall Street Bull PHOTO: Course Reviewer

I found the course to be in near perfect condition. Our caddy Joe read our putts and figured out our respective games in short order and knew what obstacles we could carry and where we should back off. I do not remember ever having a better caddy than Joe. I could have had a special round but I barely missed 7-8 putts that I thought were going in. I left the course very pleased. 

The course is not walker friendly and meanders through a neighborhood of truly stunning homes. 

The 11th hole at Isleworth. Note the nice homes PHOTO: Course Reviewer

During the round, you need to cross the street 7-8 times so paying attention to the signs is a must. Noteworthy is that the golf cars had no governors and we were driving way over 20 mph at times. 

Joe commented that almost no one walks the course and the place of play is fairly brisk during the busy time of year.

With no group behind us and no group ahead of us and nothing but golf beauty around us, everyone in the group played well.  We played the appropriate set of the 7 sets of tees for our skill level and certainly avoided the  “Tiger Tees” ~ the back tees at about 7,500 yards. 

The Tiger Tees PHOTO: Course Reviewer

Our caddy Joe, who is a 2 handicap, plays from the second to back tees (about 7,200 yards).

After the round, we showered and changed in the pristine locker rooms (which had every amenity) and got ready for dinner elsewhere nearby.  Probably the only regret is our dinner plans did not allow time for a cocktail on the Isleworth patio.

As we had dinner, we discussed: our favorite shots, how truly beautiful the course was, what a great time we had, how intimidating the “Tiger Tees” were but our overriding thought is how everyone at Isleworth went out of their way to make us feel very welcomed and valued guests.

I found Isleworth to be an absolutely wonderful golfing experience that will be extremely difficult to top.

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