Golf is Good in the Neighborhood

Experience a gathering place for golfers at Orlando’s Dubsdread Golf Course.

I walked off the final hole of Dubsdread Golf Course on a Friday evening and strolled right into what felt like a block party. Dubsdread is Orlando’s oldest public golf offering and it’s also the social center of the city’s College Park neighborhood. On evenings like the one I enjoyed, golfers can be found crawling all over the course while groups of families and friends arrive at the famous Tap Room for happy hour and dinner. Dubsdread Golf Course is a friendly place to play the game, and the Tap Room there may be one of the best 19th holes in golf.

Dubsdread has a long and interesting history. The course has hosted some of the most famed names in golf for competitions in the past. It also served as a home for a former Masters Champion. The course has changed throughout its existence, but for its patrons, an appreciation for history and love of golf has stayed strong through the years.

Dubsdread is where the every-man comes to enjoy golf in Orlando. The course and its famed 19th hole combine to create an affordable place for golfers of all levels to enjoy the game while spending time with neighbors. When the golf is over, the good times are just beginning as everyone heads to the Tap Room for a tall glass of camaraderie and and a plate full of fun. Dubsdread is where golf thrives and the town comes to toast another great day in Orlando.

Disagreements lead to Dubsdread

Dubsdread was founded in 1923 when a successful local developer, Carl Dann Sr., decided to leave the Country Club of Orlando over a disagreement with the membership. Legend has it that the argument was related to Dann’s proclivity for wager-making on the golf course. Dann decided to found a new golf club for Orlando and to do so he called on his friends and associates for help. Dann is said to have walked the streets of Downtown and secured 100 memberships in one day, enough to start his new golf club.

With memberships in hand, Dann set forth plans to develop the new golf club and build homes in the surrounding areas. To design his golf course, Dann turned to famed architect Tom Bendelow. Bendelow is known as the “Johnny Appleseed” of American golf, having designed multitudes of courses around the country in his day. His most renowned works include Olympia Fields Country Club and the courses at Medinah Country Club in the greater Chicago area.

Dann chose the name Dubsdread as a humorous way to describe the golf course. In his time, a “Dub” or “Dubber” was a term used to describe a novice golfer. Dann thought of the name Dubsdread to alert golfers of the unique challenges that await them at the course.

A History of Legendary Players

Dubsdread may have been marketed as a hang out for Orlando’s burgeoning golf scene, but it developed a legacy of being home to some of the best players in Florida. Shortly after the club was founded, Dann put his son in charge of managing the club. Carl Dann Jr. not only operated Dubsdread, but was one of the best amateur golfers in Florida’s history. Carl Dann Jr. won the Florida Amateur Championship five times between 1933 and 1949. A feet that has never been matched.

Dann Jr. was not the only decorated player to emerge from Dubsdread. Claude Harmon was a young player who grew up at Dubsdread learning the game. Harmon qualified for the 1931 United States Amateur Championship at the age of 15 and immediately drew comparison to Bobby Jones. Harmon later would go on to have an incredibly influential career including winning the 1948 Masters tournament at Augusta National. Harmon was head professional at Winged Foot and Seminole as well as the patriarch of the Harmon family of golf professionals.

Dubsdread was host to the best players in the world during the years immediately following World War II. From 1945 to 1947 Dubsdread hosted the Orlando Open as part of the professional golf tour. The event drew legendary names like Sam Snead and Ben Hogan to compete for war bonds and prize money. Hogan even won the inaugural contest in 1945.

A Course for the City

Orlando, like much of Florida, saw a large influx of growth and development in the decades after World War II. By the time that Walt Disney World opened in 1971, the city had expanded with new suburbs and neighborhoods with many including golf courses. Dubsdread struggled to keep pace with a barrage of new clubs and courses coming to the area. The course would eventually be sold to the City of Orlando to become the primary municipal offering in the growing city.

Under the stewardship of the City of Orlando there have been numerous upgrades to the course and its facilities. The course has been completely renovated and faintly resembles what was there in the early years. The largest renovation came in 2008 when a new golf course emerged from the work of architect Mike Dasher. Much of that work was focused on positioning the Dubsdread course for success as continued growth was occurring around the course.

Today, Dubsdread Golf Course offers an interesting playing experience. The course is short by all modern measures at just over 6,000 yards, but there are challenges waiting on every hole. The course is scenic and it tours through the charming neighborhoods of College Park. Dubsdread is the perfect place for golfers to chase their passions for the game at an affordable and attractive course.

Dubsdread also offers golfers a spacious practice facility to hone their game. The lighted driving range has lots of room. The practice range features floating golf balls and island style targets surrounded by water. Players line up each day to practice and enjoy the setting. There is also a large putting green just off the porch of the Tap Room. The putting green becomes a popular spot for contests and practicing kids each evening as people watch while dining the Tap Room.

After I exit the 18th green, the Tap Room is only a few steps away. The Tap Room is located in the original clubhouse building at Dubsdread, which has long served as a host to weddings, parties and balls celebrating the residents of College Park in Orlando. On this night, the crowds were gathered on the porch, around the fire pit, and of course at the bar. I doubt they were all waiting for me, but what a great way to be greeted after a round of golf.

The Tap Room at Dubsdread is in a league of its own for 19th holes at municipal golf courses. The building dates to the founding of the course and the walls are covered with black and white photos of Dann Sr., Dann Jr., Hogan, and Harmon. The crowd is buzzing with joy as the weekend sets in and the drinks are being poured.

The food at the Tap Room is first class and the folks gathered there are friendly. As we journey back out to the porch, the putting green is filling up for the final hour of daylight and a few children are chasing their family dog. The whole neighborhood is out in force.

Some players continue practicing into the night, knowing they only have a short trip home from the golf course. I enjoy my beverage and a laugh with friends. Orlando has a great offering of municipal golf and I’m glad we got to try it. The golf at Dubsdread is fun and everything about it is good for the neighborhood.