The City Beautiful has become a top destination for tourists. In 2016, Visit Orlando reported that 68 million people visited Orlando, and 2017 was poised to exceed that record based on the numbers for the first half of the year.
While many families plan trips around theme park visits, the area’s abundance of golf courses, world-class facilities like the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, and opportunities to host major sporting events draw a crowd, too. As 2018 begins, two of these events are returning to town to the delight of visitors and locals alike.
Diamond Resorts Invitational
The Diamond Resorts Invitational benefitting Florida Hospital for Children is the first PGA TOUR Champions Challenge season event in 2018. Hosted at the Tranquilo Golf Club from Jan. 12-14, this year’s tournament will feature 27 PGA TOUR Champions players, including John Daly, Mark Calcavecchia and Lee Janzen; five LPGA Tour players such as Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lincicome; and 46 athletes and entertainment celebrities, including Ray Allen, Roger Clemens, Michael Waltrip, Alfonso Ribeiro, Cole Swindell and Jack Wagner.
The unique competition utilizes a Modified Stableford scoring format that awards points as opposed to strokes. Threesomes will include one PGA TOUR Champions Tour or LPGA professional and two celebrities, with each playing their own ball and competing from the same tees.
Tournament week begins on Jan. 11 with the fifth annual Brian Gay Pro-Am presented by Diamond Resorts Invitational and will include gourmet dinners and concerts throughout. To date, $2.3 million has been raised for Florida Hospital for Children through this exciting event.
“We caught lightning in a bottle,” says Michael Flaskey, CEO for Diamond Resorts International. “The tournament has been an enormous hit, being nationally televised on Golf Channel, becoming part of the PGA TOUR Champions Challenge Season schedule and the best part of all is that we’ve raised some serious money for Florida Hospital for Children.”
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is open to the public and will air on the Golf Channel.
NFL Pro Bowl
The NFL Pro Bowl had a successful first year in Orlando last January. So successful, in fact, that Camping World Stadium will host the battle between the AFC and the NFC once again on Jan. 28.
This annual all-star game has spent most of its years in Hawaii, with brief breaks in Miami in 2010 and Arizona in 2015. For its second year in Orlando, fans can expect to see Antonio Brown, Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Tyreek Hill, Von Miller and James Develin representing the AFC and Julio Jones, Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz, Todd Gurley, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith representing the NFC – just to name a few.
The NFL will host Pro Bowl Week activities across the Orlando area leading up to the big game, including the NFL Pro Bowl Experience football festival at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 2018 Pro Bowl will be televised on ESPN and simulcast on ABC.