Before heading to the first tee at Bay Hill you should warm up sufficiently on the practice ground. Mr. Palmer starts you off with a par four that measures 461 yards from the Palmer tees that doglegs left. A good drive from the Palmer tees will leave you with nearly 200 yards into a well bunkered green that is only 22 yards deep. Make a par on this hole and you have done well.
From the tee the second hole appears long and demanding. It is. #2 is 231 yards from the Palmer tees. A smart shot is to favor the right side of the green. If you want you can let the slope help you onto the green. Missing the green left leaves you with a challenging up and down. Once you are on the green you must negotiate a green that tilts right to left. A par on at the 2nd is a good score.
Dean Wilson hit a hole-in-one with a five-iron during the first round of the 2007 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard.
Hole #3 is an attractive par 4 that measures 434 yards from the Palmer tees. Finding the fairway off the tee is the first step to securing a par. There is a lake to the left of the fairway and to the right is thick rough. The green is guarded by water left and bunkers left, right and long. Two accurate shots could offer you a reasonable chance for birdie.
The fourth hole is a par 5 that measures 561 yards from the Palmer tees. It plays uphill with a creek and OB running along the right side of the hole. It is reachable in two for the longest hitters. Avoid the bunker on the left side of the fairway if you choose to lay up. Regardless of whether you go for the green in two or not the left side of the green is shallow in depth. A miss to the right of the green drops off sharply leaving a difficult up and down. Accuracy is a must into this elevated target if you expect a par or better.
The fifth hole is a 390 yard par 4 from the Palmer tees. Do not let the distance fool you into thinking it will be an easy par. The landing area for the tee shot is well bunkered left and right. Less than driver will likely avoid the bunkers. Setting up an approach shot to a green that is also well guarded by bunkers. Once on the green you will have to deal with a center green camel back that makes for a challenging two putt.
The 6th hole at Bay Hill is one of the most recognizable holes on the course. It is a par 5 that measures 555 yards from the Palmer tees. With three aggressive swings at conservative targets a birdie opportunity awaits. An overly aggressive swing at an aggressive target could lead to double digits. From the tee you should aim towards the fairway bunkers. If you are playing your second shot from the fairway aim towards the bunker on the right side of the fairway. The green is deep so double check your yardage for your third shot. A par or better is within reach.
The 7th hole is a par 3 that measures 199 yards from the Palmer tees. To find the green you will need to avoid the bunkers short, left and long. This green has multiple tiers and is sneaky fast putting from back to front. A par on this hole is a good score.
Vaughn Taylor scored a hole-in-one with a six iron during the 2nd round of the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard.
The 8th hole is a demanding par 4 that measures 460 yards from the Palmer tees. The hole is a dog leg right that demands an accurate and reasonably long tee shot to avoid the corner of the dog leg and the bunker through the left side of the fairway. The approach shot plays over a pond to a green that has bunkers behind and to the right. The green is deeper than it appears. It will accept a well struck approach shot. Beware of the side slope when putting. A misread and or a mishit will lead to a three putt bogey or worse.
The 9th hole is a par 4 that measures 474 yards from the Palmer tees. Avoid the temptation to attempt to carry the bunker on the left. Reaching the green from that bunker makes a par on this difficult hole unlikely. Your approach shot will need to be well struck and online to avoid the bunkers short left, right, and long left. A par four here will enhance the taste of that Palmer tea from the halfway house. Just turn left after completing this hole. You will find the halfway house, toilets and golf shop. Continue further beyond the golf shop to find the 10th tee.
The 10th hole is a 400 yard par 4 from the Palmer tees. An accurate tee shot on this dog leg right is required to avoid the bunkers to the right and through the fairway. The second shot plays slightly uphill to a green that is guarded in front by two deep bunkers. The green slopes from back to front. Any putts from above the hole tend to be some of the quickest on the course. A two putt par from above the hole is easier than an up and down from the sand.
The 11th hole is a 438 yard par four from the Palmer tees. It bends left around a lake. Your tee shot needs to avoid the water left and the bunkers right. The green is guarded by water left and bunkers short and right. Double check the wind before hitting towards the green. Coming up short will eliminate any chance of making a par. Once you are on the putting surface a two putt par is not guaranteed.
The 12th hole is 574 yard par five from the Palmer tees. Only the longest drivers can carry the bunker on the right side of the fairway. If you choose to layup avoid the bunkers right and left to leave yourself a short iron approach. Be sure of your yardage because a tricky two putt is in store for anyone who is too bold or timid with their approach.
The 13th hole is a 370 yard par four from the Palmer tees. The scorecard is not a misprint. It is our number 1 handicap hole. Be sure to find the fairway with your tee shot. Hitting the well-guarded green in regulation is much easier from the fairway. Playing your second shot from the bunker right or the bunkers left to this green is not ideal. The green is well guarded with water short and right of the green. To the left there are bunkers. Once you are on the green remember the ball will break towards the water. Just don’t forget there is water left of the green towards #11. A par here is a good score.
The 14th hole is a par 3 that measures 215 yards from the Palmer tees. A tee shot into the center of the green avoiding the bunkers left and long increases the chance for a par. If you miss short or right I suggest putting if you can putt and chipping if you cannot putt. This green is another than can be quick when putting from the back of the green.
Kenny Perry scored an ace on this hole with a two iron in 1991 during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard.
The 15th hole is a 429 yard par 4 from the Palmer tees. The tee shot on this dogleg right is well-guarded by Magnolia trees right and through the fairway. Finding the fairway with your tee shot increases the probability of a par. The green has large bunkers in front and a medium sized bunker long. Long right is a closely mown area. Accuracy into the green is a premium.
In 1983, Mike Nicolette and Greg Norman ended with a playoff in the [then named] Bay Hill Invitational. Norman was long with his approach to the big 15th green; Nicolette was just short of the putting surface. He got down in two from three for the win when Norman three putted.
The 16th hole is a par 5 that measures 511 yards from the Palmer tees. Your tee shot must avoid the bunker and trees to the right of the fairway. There is OB on the left if you get too aggressive. From the fairway longer hitters will have the opportunity to reach the green in two. However, there is water in front of the green waiting for a mishit. In addition there are bunkers short, right and behind the green. A subpar score on this hole is a possibility with an accurate approach shot.
In 1979, Bob Byman and John Schroeder entered into a playoff in the inaugural [then named] Bay Hill Invitational. Byman prevailed with a par on the second (16th) extra hole after both parred the opening (15th) playoff hole.
The 17th hole is a par 3 that measures 221 yards from the Palmer tees. The putting surface has the beach bunker short of the green. In addition there are bunkers left and long left of the green. In front and wrapping around the right of the green there is water. A tee shot that finds the green is well played and increases your chances for a par.
Don Pooley earned a spot in Bay Hill history in 1987 with a million dollar ace, made with a four iron during the fourth round of the [then] Bay Hill Invitational. Pooley stole a bit of champion Payne Stewart’s thunder when he split $1 million with the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children by making a hole-in-one at this par three hole. Pooley is also in good company with Arnold Palmer, who on March 30, 2004 shot his 19th lifetime hole-in-one on Hole 17, going 208 yards with a 7-wood.
The 72nd hole of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard, the 18th hole is a par 4 458 yards from the Palmer tees. There is OB along the entire left side of this demanding par 4. To the right of the driving area is thick rough. Ideally, the tee shot should be played left of center. From the left side of the fairway you have options depending on the hole location. If your tee shot finds the rough the smart play is to play towards the left front of the green. If you choose to play aggressive there are bunkers left and long. If you have ever watched the Arnold Palmer Invitational you already knew about the pond guarding the front of the putting surface. A par on this hole would be a good way to end your round.
In 1990, Robert Gamez solidified his claim on Rookie-of-the-Year honors with the most sensational and decisive shot, a scintillating stroke that brought him the 1990 title at Bay Hill. Gamez grabbed victory when he holed his seven-iron approach from 176 yards for an eagle deuce on the difficult 18th hole.