Tucked away on 1,900 verdant acres of rolling countryside and sparkling lakes near the quiet village of Montverde, Bella Collina is truly one of Central Florida’s most exclusive residential clubs. Sir Nick Faldo designed the 7,700-yard championship golf course that has six sets of tee boxes down to 5,000 yards to accommodate members and guests of all skill levels. The signature layout boasts impressive views, dramatic elevation changes and large undulating greens unmatched in the area.
At the peak of Bella Collina inside the gates sets the heart of the community, the grand Tuscany-inspired 75,000 square foot clubhouse. This awe-inspiring collection of six buildings and piazzas provide the amenities expected by the discriminating membership and residents. From fine dining to an extraordinary event space, pro shop, spa, fitness center, wine cellar and humidor, and relaxing spots tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the buildings, you really have to experience the detail in the Italian architecture and interior design to realize what an exceptional community it is.
Earlier this year I was invited to be part of the inaugural class of golf students to experience firsthand the curriculum of the Golf Academy at Bella Collina, “Where Luxury Meets Learning.” The exceptional staff is lead by Jim Kroll, Director of Golf, and a Class A Member of the PGA of America. The large two-sided practice area is the location of the school. The topside next to the first hole is the driving range while the backside has a full complement of different practice areas including a driving area, an expansive practice putting surface, and a pitching and putting facility complete with high side and low side bunkers.
Complementing Jim, who worked on our putting prowess, are two outstanding teachers of the game: The Head Professional at Bella Collina, Dan Hatcher is also a Class A Member who worked on our short game around the green and out of the bunkers initiating our proper setup and take-away from the different circumstances; Todd Meena, a former European PGA Tour player, has been ranked as a top instructor in Florida by Golf Digest and was the Head Instructor at the Grand Cypress Academy for 24 years. Todd taught the group valuable insights into the full swing area of the golf game.
Together, their systematic and practical approach suits players of all ability levels and allows the students to develop and improve every aspect of their game. At our introductory meeting, Jim explained the philosophy of the Bella Collina Academy, “We take what the student does naturally and make it better. We are not here to overhaul or re-invent your golf swing.”
Before going to the practice area we were given a handbook with some key notations on course management, helpful general information and swing drills with plenty of blank pages to make notations on what worked to improve our game. Once we got to the practice area we were divided into three groups rotating to each instructor for specific areas of the golf game. After a full day with a break for lunch, we had the opportunity to take our improved swings and put them to the test on the magnificent Bella Collina golf course. The next day we did it all over again with each instructor giving us some individual help on areas of our game that they felt we needed a bit more work on. Not only were the classes great and helpful, but I had a clear understanding of where I could improve my game and what to practice on to make that happen. It was thorough and extremely eye-opening.
Our visit to the Academy at Bella Collina was made even more enjoyable because we enjoyed their luxury lakefront six-story condominium, Sienna. The well-appointed two and three-bedroom condos provided the finest comfort and relaxing views of the lake during our two nights there.
The Academy has different classes to suit anyone’s needs. The three-day Tuscany school is the most comprehensive, while the two-day Vineyards is what I experienced, and the Sienna is just for the day. Please contact BellaCollina.com/Golf-Academy for more information. Learn from the best at the best.