As you might expect, the Space Coast of Florida got its name because that's where NASA launched its rockets and shuttles for the last half century or so. But the region has far more to offer than an education on America's space program. It's an area that stretches from Ormond Beach to Vero Beach with a coastline that offers great surfing and spring break locations, big-time auto racing, deep sea fishing and a pretty good golf scene.
Bordering the Indian River, Viera East Golf Club sprawls across a landscape of sparkling blue lakes and native marshland that is accented with towering pines and cypress trees. The well known layout is considered one of the best and most affordable public golf courses in Florida.
The 18-hole Spessard Holland Golf Course in Melbourne Beach, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1977. Designed by Arnold Palmer, Spessard Holland Golf Course measures 5018 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 117 and a 64.
The 18-hole Savannahs Golf Course in Merritt Island, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1989. Designed by Gordon G. Lewis, Savannahs Golf Course measures 6507 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 135 and a 72 USGA rating.
Beyond its vibrant nightlife and arts scene, West Palm Beach is also an excellent destination for golf. Palm Beach National is a classic, player-friendly layout that is a local favorite. West Palm Beach G.C. is another popular play. This public course stands out thanks to the abundance of palms, pines, and oak throughout its landscape. And just up the road is PGA National Resort & Spa, host of the Honda Classic. If those offerings aren't enough, the famed Breakers hotel is just across the bridge.
Madison Green Country Club is home of the Florida State and U.S. Amateur Championship Qualifiers. The course is ranked as one of the top 20 golf courses in Florida. It's one of the most challenging rounds you'll find in Palm Beach County and also one of the most affordable. There is no shortage of water on this golf course and you'll also find waste bunkers fiercely guarding the fairways and greens.
The Hammock Creek Golf Club is the first golf course in Florida co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son, Jack Nicklaus II. It offers championship golf to players of all skill levels in a natural setting uncommon among semi-private clubs.
A Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, the Eagle Golf Course at Banyan Cay Golf Club & Resort (previously known as President Golf Club) boasts championship Bermuda greens. Jones also lined the fairways with coquina and accented the course with pampas grass, both of which help bring out the beauty of the natural landscape.
The Daytona Beach area boasts miles of white-sandy beaches and hosts more than 8 million visitors each year. They come not only for NASCAR races and Speedweeks, but summertime concerts, Biketoberfest, the Halifax Art Festival and -- of course, for some amazing golf courses.
Venetian Bay Golf Club is part of a unique residential community with a Mediterranean theme. Colorful buildings, mosaics, and Mediterranean vegetation surround the championship golf course. The biggest challenge for the designers was transforming what was formerly a cow pasture into a lush, challenging course.
Indian River Preserve Golf Club was a collaboration between LPGA Tour champion Jan Stephenson and Perry Dye. The course is an homage to Stephenson's Australian heritage. It gets its name from a term signifying a rite-of-passage ritual of the Australian Aborigines. The layout wanders across a verdant, rolling landscape, abundant with native vegetation and wildlife.
Nestled in the gently rolling hills of Lake Mary Timacuan is a Ron Garl designed course. The front nine is reminiscent of a Scottish links-style course, with wide open fairways, rolling hills and deep bunkers. Watch the wind and keep it low!
Set in the north central part of the state, Ocala attracts visitors with its Old Florida charm and a laid-back lifestyle dominated by horse farms, tree-laden golf courses, an historic downtown and easy access to the Ocala National Forest, Appleton Museum of Art and Silver Springs theme park.
Candler Hills Golf Club in Ocala was designed by Florida native Gordon Lewis. In a state that has no shortage of golf courses, Candler Hills manages to stand out. The layout offers plenty of length at 7,233 yards from the back tees.
The 18-hole Ocala National Golf Club is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1964. Designed by Charles Pace and Lee Popple -- and later redesigned by Rees Jones -- Ocala National measures 7,364 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 141 and a 75.9 USGA rating.
When Juliette Falls Golf Course first opened in 2008, Golf Digest ranked it is one of the top five best new courses in the country. In a state that boasts more than 2,000 courses, Juliette Falls stands out as one of Florida's finest.
Naples is known just as much for its golf as it is for its famous beaches. With more than 35 courses right in the city and over 50 more championship courses in the surrounding area, Naples is the state of Florida's self-proclaimed Golf Capital. The city claims to have the highest ratio of golf courses to golfers in the country.
The 18-hole Sanibel Island Golf Club in Sanibel Island, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1976. Designed by Truman Wilson, Sanibel Island Golf Club measures 6006 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 129 and a 69.
The 18-hole Palmetto-Pine Country Club in Cape Coral, FL is a private golf course that opened in 1969. Designed by Arthur Hills, Palmetto-Pine Country Club measures 6590 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 124 and a 71.
The 18-hole The Golf Club At Magnolia Landing in Fort Myers, FL is a public golf course that opened in 2007. The Golf Club At Magnolia Landing measures 7265 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 142 and a 75.
Why do so many of the world's best golfers call Orlando home? Well, there are 123 courses within a 45-minute drive of downtown, and many things to do off the course. Plus, the weather is always great for outdoor activities, with an average annual temperature of 72.4 degrees. In short, it's a great place to work on your game -- or forget about it altogether.
Shingle Creek Golf Club lies along historic Shingle Creek in Orlando - the headwaters to the Florida Everglades. This par-72 David Harmon-designed course is not only near the happenings of International Drive, it's also offers easy access from Orlando International Airport with what seems like its own exit off the Beeline (Toll Road 528) at Universal.
Providence Golf Club meanders through forests of ancient hardwoods, freshwater creeks, and natural wetlands. The course's scenic landscape also serves as home to an abundance of wildlife including otters, deer, and wild turkeys.
Eagle Creek is a British style course, from the bunkers to the chipping areas. It is a new 18-hole 7,198 yard-Par73 championship Orlando golf course and is located minutes from Orlando International Airport, near Lake Nona.
Tallahassee revolves around two things: Government business at the capital, and Florida State University. And while the capital city may not be the golf capital of the Sunshine State, it boasts a handful of top-notch courses with terrain reminiscent of the Carolinas.
Located in Carrabelle just minutes from the pristine white beaches of St. George Island and Cape San Blas, St. James Bay Resort boasts the only Audubon Signature Sanctuary golf course in the area. It's not an understatement to say that water is the course's most formidable feature. In addition to the natural hazards that have been seamlessly incorporated, bunkers were carefully added to strategic locations to make the course more challenging, but they still allow the landscape to truly shine.
The 18-hole Don Veller Seminole Golf Course in Tallahassee, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1959. Designed by Bill Amick, Don Veller Seminole Golf Course measures 7147 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 131 and a 74 USGA rating.
The 18-hole Golf Club of Quincy in Quincy, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1968. Golf Club of Quincy measures 7045 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 140 and a 74.
To an outsider looking in, the Tampa Bay area has it all. The enormous, sugar-white beaches of St. Petersburg/Clearwater are some of the best in the world. The peaceful, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay are a veritable maritime playground. The area is home to an intriguing collection of golf courses that will appeal to any skill level and income bracket.
A vintage TPC golf course with dramatic finishing holes and loads of stadium mounding. Designer Bobby Weed routed the 6,898-yard par 71 course through the wetlands and cypress trees north of the city. TPC Tampa Bay is an Audubon certified cooperative sanctuary courses.
Opened in 1991, Crescent Oaks Golf Club in Tarpon Springs underwent a $1 million renovation in 2011. The player-friendly design of the course remained mostly untouched but the greens were completely renovated. With the improved playing conditions the course has garnered quite a local following. Steve Smyers, a Florida-based designer who has contributed numerous golf courses throughout the state, designed the traditional layout.
The 18-hole Summerfield Crossings Golf Club in Riverview, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1987. Designed by Ron Garl, Summerfield Crossings Golf Club measures 6903 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 125 and a 73 USGA rating.
Anyone who's been there will tell you that Jacksonville is one of the best-kept secrets on the eastern seaboard. A vibrant, midsize city with an enviable waterfront setting and an NFL franchise, "J-ville" as locals call it, often plays second fiddle to Atlanta, Charlotte, and even instate rivals Tampa and Miami in the Southern city popularity contest.
Jacksonville Beach Golf Club has been a favorite among locals since opening in 1960. The municipally owned and operated course is well known for its affordable rates and player-friendly layout. The golf course underwent a redesign in 1987 and another in 2009 that added over two acres of lakes and several bulkheads.
Cimarrone Golf Club has a landscape that includes both natural wetlands and pine forests, providing an interesting variety of risk-reward opportunities as well as scenic views. The course's 17 lakes come into play on every hole along either the well defined fairways or manicured greens.
The 18-hole Bent Creek Golf Course in Jacksonville, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1989. Designed by Bobby Weed, Bent Creek Golf Course measures 6420 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 136 and a 71.
Miami's warm ocean breezes and colorful culture highlight the easygoing yet energy-filled atmosphere of this city where you can do everything from relax at the beach to exploring an ancient Spanish monastery all in one day. Naturally, the sandy coasts and marshy wetlands provided an excellent opportunity for some world-class golf courses.
Opened in 1925, Biltmore Golf Course has a traditional layout designed by Donald Ross. The course has a timelessly challenging design that has made it one of Miami's most favored layouts.
The 18-hole West Course at Woodlands Country Club in Tamarac, FL is a private golf course that opened in 1969. Designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert von Hagge, West Course at Woodlands Country Club measures 6811 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 131 and a 72.
The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club offers a variety of activities including a championship golf course and a 10-court tennis facility, but it's also conveniently close to Miami's beaches and attractions. The golf course winds across a scenic landscape covered with coconut and royal palms as well as stunning 50-year-old banyan trees.
Florida's Emerald Coast, from Pensacola and Panama City across the panhandle to Destin and Tallahassee, has emerged as a golf destination and now features more than 1,000 holes to enjoy on its golf courses, not to mention sandy beaches and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of families visit the area each spring and summer to indulge in the powdery sand and consistently ideal weather.
The 18-hole Creek/Seminole at Indian Bayou Golf & Country Club in Destin, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1978. Designed by Earl Stone, Creek/Seminole at Indian Bayou Golf & Country Club measures 7047 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 142 and a 74.
After carving the masterpiece called The Links Course, Tom Jackson returned to Sandestin to develop the course we call Baytowne. As Jackson himself says, "Each hole has a personality all its own." And that's what makes this course so special.
Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club stretches along the shores of South Walton's pristine white sand beaches. It's the only course in the Destin area with two holes that back up to the Gulf of Mexico, providing scenery unlike any other course nearby.
When it's time for a reprieve from the tourist hordes at central Florida's theme parks, Lakeland and Sebring offer a slower pace, excellent golf possibilities and fun off-course activities. Many picturesque lakes serve as natural buffers from development, giving Lakeland the laid-back feel of a much smaller city. Sebring attracts visitors with its Old Florida downtown historic district, golf courses and Sebring International Raceway.
Lake Wales Country Club boasts a classic Donald Ross design that players of all skill level will enjoy. Built in the 1920s, the golf course has a different look and feel than most modern courses.
Bartow Golf Course is a municipal course that offers an affordable yet challenging round. The course has a classic design with an interesting mix of holes that range from being wide open to narrow and tree lined.
The 18-hole Placid Lakes Country Club in Lake Placid, FL is a public golf course that opened in 2005. Placid Lakes Country Club measures 6911 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 128 and a 73.
The Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
Situated along the banks of the Manatee River, Waterlefe Golf Club is defined by its water features, which come into play on nearly every hole. The course is definitely tough, especially for high handicappers, so don't be surprised if you lose a few balls.
The 18-hole Creek/Oaks Course at Heron Creek Golf and Country Club in North Port, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 2003. Creek/Oaks Course at Heron Creek Golf and Country Club measures 6697 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 141 and a 73.
Situated along the Braden River, the River Club in Bradenton is conveniently located near both Sarasota and Tampa. The golf course is considered to be one of Florida's best, which is some lofty recognition in a state that boasts more than 2,000 courses.