It’s no secret that The Back 9 at Winter Park Golf Course is a local gem. The 9-hole putting green opened in 2016 after a redesign and renovation of the golf course took place. Situated on what used to be a croquet court, the 15,000-square foot putting green is a popular gathering place for the public to practice putting at no cost and spend time outdoors.
The Back 9 sits in between Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum and Park Avenue and has been a popular attraction for locals since its inception in 2016. “On a daily basis, there are people out there on the putting course,” said Gregg Pascale, golf pro shop and country club manager at Winter Park Golf Course, referring to traffic on The Back 9 prior to the pandemic.
The putting green became such a popular attraction during its first couple years that the golf course expanded it from 11,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet in 2019, but due to COVID-19, Winter Park Golf Course had to shut down for 45 days. When the stay-at-home order first went into effect, many residents tried to continue using The Back 9. “At first, we had a bunch of people out there playing [on The Back 9],” said Pascale. “That really stopped after we took a little harder stance… People really respected [the closing].”
Pascale said that having the golf course closed for 45 days was a great opportunity for the maintenance staff to really focus on the course. “This golf course has never been in better shape than it is right now, as of today. Many members and guests continue to come in and tell us that.”
After the reopening of the course, the popularity of The Back 9 picked up right where it left off. “After we reopened and put the word out on social media and people saw the activity at the golf course again, the pickup at The Back 9 increased… It went back to pretty much normal,” said Pascale.
Part of the allure of The Back 9 is the opportunity it gives to people of all ages and skill levels to learn and enjoy the game of golf. “It’s such an eclectic and diverse group of people who are out there using the putting course. From Rollins College Golf team members… to a grandfather teaching his grandchild to putt… or a husband bringing his wife out there to putt,” said Pascale.
“The Winter Park Golf Course is such a community asset, it’s actually considered one of our parks,” said Craig O’Neal, assistant director of communications for the City of Winter Park. “A lot of people missed [The Back 9] for the few weeks that it was closed… It’s a great place for people to social distance and still enjoy the outdoors.”
The Back 9 is currently operating from 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. daily and does not require a reservation.