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.
Highlands Ridge offers 36 holes of championship golf, which form the centerpiece of the upscale residential community. It's one central Florida's most popular golf destinations. The North Course is known for its outstanding conditions. The layout is not as challenging as the South Course, making it more appealing for beginners.
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.
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.
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.
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 7,301 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 138 and a 75.7 USGA rating.
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.
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.
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.
As its name implies, Nature Walk Golf Club in Lynn Haven is situated amid a beautiful natural setting. The golf course weaves through stands of majestic oaks and Florida pines. The par-60 layout is a manageable 3,512 yards from the back tees.
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.
The golf course at Seascape Resort is routed through a network of freshwater and coastal dune lakes, offering stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico from nearly every hole. With so much water throughout, it is only natural that it comes into play on 15 holes.
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.
The 18-hole The Habitat Golf Course in Malabar, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1991. Designed by Charles Ankrom, The Habitat Golf Course measures 6836 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 141 and a 73.
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 5155 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 119 and a 65.
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.
Grand Palms offers three nines: Royal, Sabal, and Grand, which are played in three different 18-hole combinations. The golf courses sprawl across a landscape of tropical foliage and swaying palms, showcasing the best of what south Florida golf has to offer.
Orangebrook Country Club originally opened as an 18-hole course in 1933, making it one of the oldest clubs in Hollywood. An additional 18 holes were added in 1959. The two courses, the East and West, offer traditional Florida links golf at an affordable price.
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.
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.
The Golf Club at South Hampton is considered one of the best values in the area. Unlike many other courses in northeastern Florida, there is actually some movement in the landscape, which was fully utilized in the design.
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.
Although it is only 20 minutes outside of Jacksonville, the Country Club of Orange Park feels tucked away amongst ancient oak hammocks and protected wetlands that sit next to an Audubon Society Wildlife Preserve. Golfers will find that they are sharing the course with an abundance of wildlife including wild turkeys, deer, and osprey.
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.
The Florida Club is a captivating course that places special emphasis on customer service. The course is reminiscent of "old" Florida's natural beauty, with long wide fairways surrounded by stately ancient oaks, pines and palmettos.
Atlantis Country Club has a central location in Palm Beach County that makes it conveniently accessible, but its unique setting will make you feel as though you're in North Carolina. Unlike many other golf courses in the area, Atlantis enjoys a lush landscape covered with enormous banyan trees, mature pines, and towering oaks.
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.
The Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
The Highlands golf course is one of three courses owned and operated by Meadows Country Club. In addition to the Highlands and Meadows Courses, there is also the Arthur Hills-designed Groves Course, an 18-hole executive course.
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.
River Run Golf Links is a municipal course owned by the city of Bradenton. The layout is player friendly enough for all skill levels to enjoy but it's also a fair test that is anything but boring.
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.
Arthur Hills designed the 27 holes at River Strand Golf & Country Club in Bradenton. The holes are intertwined with a series of waterways, incorporating water on almost every hole. The Tributary Course is the shortest and most player friendly, but there are still some challenges in store. Located between Tampa and Sarasota, River Strand makes a nice getaway but it is also popular with locals.
Located just north of Tampa, the Links of Lake Bernadette sprawls across rolling hills sprinkled with stands of mature pines. Since opening in 1983, the golf course has garnered a popular following, receiving acclaim from Golf Digest as the "Best Overall Value" in Tampa Bay.
Silverado Golf & Country Club is spread across a beautifully pristine landscape that is covered with 100-year-old oaks. A variety of Florida wildlife call the course home, including red-tail hawks, Sandhill cranes, egrets, and foxes.
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 Capital City Country Club in Tallahassee, FL is a private golf course that opened in 1924. Designed by A. W. Tillinghast, Capital City Country Club measures 6502 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 128 and a 71.
The 18-hole Wildwood Country Club in Crawfordville, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1995. Designed by Greg Diehl, Wildwood Country Club measures 6504 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 120 and a 70.
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.
West Orange Country Club is known throughout central Florida as the home of the West Orange Invitational, where the area's best amateur players gather to compete every November. The golf course was opened in 1967 and rebuilt in 2006 with Tifdwarf grass, providing it with some of central Florida's smoothest putting surfaces.
Designed by Arthur Hills Stoneybrook West is a roaming blend of gutsy, penal holes, picturesque par threes over water, reachable par fives (527 and 522 yards from the tips, then 578 and 605), and several short, sporty par fours that cover all corners of the site.
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.
Hibiscus Golf Club is one of the few 18-hole courses in Naples that are open to the public. The course is player enough for beginners and while it may not be what you're looking for if you're in search of a formidable test, it's good for some casual practice for the more advanced player.
Quail Village Golf Club is part of a quiet residential community that is conveniently situated just minutes from Naples' beaches, shops, and restaurants. The 18-hole course is the centerpiece of the community. The layout has an interesting variety of holes that consist of three par 5s, nine par 4s, and six par 3s.
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 6729 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 129 and a 74.
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.
Walkabout 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.
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.
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!