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Published on : Tuesday, February 9, 2016
When it comes to hosting college golf events, few facilities can boast a record like that of Mission Inn Resort & Club, the iconic central Florida golf venue located in Howey-in-the-Hills, just 35 minutes northwest of Orlando.
For the 20th consecutive year, Mission Inn Resort & Club is serving as home for a lineup of collegiate tournaments that includes a major or regional NCAA golf championship. Starting with the Mission Inn Spring Fling, March 12-13, and ending with the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Championship, April 28-May 5, there will be six men’s and women’s collegiate competitions at Mission Inn in 2016:
Other NCAA events already scheduled include the 2017 Men’s Division III Championship, and the 2018 Women’s Division II Championship. The reason so many college teams, coaches and players keep coming to Mission Inn Resort & Club – and coming back again – is pretty simple.
“While they’re here, we make them feel like family,” says Joe Lewandowski, Mission Inn’s head golf professional.
“The resort’s location also is a factor. We are set apart from any distractions, which makes it better for the coaches and the teams. And we focus on making them all happy.”
“The teams are all in one place,” Lewandowski added, “the rooms and restaurants are located very close by; it’s very intimate and easy to manage. Plus, the players and coaches have the run of the facility. It works out very well for everyone.”
Of course, it all starts with the resort’s two award-winning golf courses: The must-play El Campeón (The Champion) is one of the oldest 18-hole courses in the South, having opened in 1917. An original member of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, El Campeón’s classic design accentuates elevation changes that are unique to the region. The course was named #2 in the U.S. based on 2015 GolfAdvisor player surveys.
Las Colinas (The Hills), which opened in 1992, lives up to its name with wide fairways rolling over gentle rises. Its large, undulating greens are surrounded by tropical vegetation, and incorporate large water hazards on many holes. Golf Digest named the course a “Best New Resort Course” when it opened in 1992.
“All the golfers I speak to love the courses, the challenges they present and their differences,” says Lewandowski. “El Campeón isn’t real long, but it is rolling, which is unusual for a Florida golf course. Many of the players, coming from schools up north, are used to this type of terrain and like seeing it here. Las Colinas plays a little longer and offers a different kind of challenge, which is especially good for the college players.”
Built in classic Spanish Colonial style, Mission Inn Resort’s main buildings feature176 graciously appointed guestrooms, suites, and villas, as well as three restaurants and two lounges. Mission Inn is also a favorite destination for weddings, a home base for wine tours of local vineyards and wineries, and the home of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy.