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.
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.
Amelia River Golf Club prides itself on being one of the best-conditioned golf courses in the area, boasting large, smooth TifEagle greens that are carefully sculpted around forested parkland. Due to the abundance of trees on the golf course, ball placement and accuracy are integral to doing well.
Formerly known as Mayport Golf Club, Windy Harbor Golf Club is a military course that is a part of the Mayport Naval Station. The name change is derived from the blustery winds that sweep across the course, courtesy of its seaside location. The challenging layout features narrow fairways lined with trees and fast greens that are subtly sloped.
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 Indian Bayou Golf Club in Destin, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1978. Designed by Earl Stone, Indian Bayou Golf Club measures 7078 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 132 and a 74.
Bluewater Bay Resort in Niceville sits along the shores of Choctawhatchee Bay with Florida's famous white sand beaches in view. The resort's golf courses all have varied landscapes that provide a different set of challenges on each. Although water is a prominent feature on all of the courses, it comes into play on none more so than the Marsh nine, which is situated right along the shoreline.
The golf course at Seascape Golf Beach and Tennis 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.
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.
The natural Florida woodlands provide a stunning backdrop to one of America's premier resort courses. Architect, Joe Lee, designed the 6,870-yard Palm with elevated tees and greens. The key ingredient, of course, was the Florida palm and he made good use of nearly every variety for aesthetic and strategic purposes.
The 18-hole Celebration Golf Club in Celebration, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1996. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Celebration Golf Club measures 7038 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 140 and a 74.5 USGA rating. The course features 5 sets of tees for different skill levels. The greens are bermuda grass.
The 18-hole Ventura Country Club in Orlando, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1981. Designed by Mark Mahannah, Ventura Country Club measures 5659 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 117 and a 66.
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.
LPGA International in Daytona Beach boasts two championship golf courses, one designed by Arthur Hills and the other by Rees Jones. Hills designed the Hills Course, which is the shorter of the two courses, but not by much, it is still quite lengthy at just under 7,000 yards.
Palm Harbor's narrow, bending fairways are lined with towering palms, oaks and pines. Combine this with elevated greens and you have a course that demands accurate shots. The creativity in the design is the use of large bunkers.
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.
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.
There are two championship golf courses available at Highland Ridge, an upscale residential community that is one of central Florida's most popular golfing destinations. Both courses enjoy a beautiful tropical setting situated next to a nature conservancy and a 260-acre freshwater lake. Highlands Ridge's North Course is known for its excellent conditions and the more challenging South Course is one of the heartland's toughest layouts. The South was even voted the area's best golf course in 2012.
Spring Lake Golf Resort in Sebring sits alongside Lake Istokpoga, which is Florida's second largest freshwater lake. The resort is home to three of Highland County's most popular golf courses: Panther Creek, Cougar Trail, and Bobcat Run. Panther Creek boasts the longest hole in the state. The sixth is an intimidating par 6 that stretches to a whopping 800 yards. Water is the most prominent feature on this golf course; golfers will encounter it on every hole.
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 Spruce Creek Preserve Golf Club in Dunnellon, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1997. Spruce Creek Preserve Golf Club measures 6540 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 131 and a 70.9 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.
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.
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.
This Fred Couples-Gene Bates design meanders through high countries, low countries, secluded woods and open fields. The golf course is not revved up on gimmicks or architect steroids. SouthWood's routing flows seamlessly with the existing elements.
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.
The Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
The 18-hole Tatum Ridge Golf Links in Sarasota, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1989. Designed by Ted McAnlis, Tatum Ridge Golf Links measures 6745 yards from the longest tees. The course features 4 sets of tees for different skill levels.
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.
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.
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 Champions Club at Summerfield is an 18-hole championship course ingeniously routed through a briny wetland three miles from the Atlantic. This Tom Fazio design meanders through natural marshes and vegetation. Its 6,800 yards from the tips and each hole features multiple tees for players of all skill level.
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.
West Palm Beach Golf Course originally opened in 1947 but the design was beautifully restored in 2009. The course stands out from run-of-the-mill public courses thanks to a stunning landscape of mature palm, pine, and oak trees. The rolling terrain provides plenty of ups and downs and there are a few strategically placed bunkers, but you won't find any water on this golf course.
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 Savannahs Golf Course in Merritt Island, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1989. Designed by Gordon Lewis, Savannahs Golf Course measures 6507 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 135 and a 72 USGA rating. The course features 4 sets of tees for different skill levels.
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 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.
Jacksonville isn't the biggest city in the southeast, but don't tell its golf that. Home to the World Golf Village, the TPC at Sawgrass and more than 60 more courses, the First Coast is a top choice for golf in Florida.
The Oak Bridge Club (formerly known as Ponte Vedra Golf & Country Club at Sawgrass) is one of the finest golf courses located inside the Sawgrass community just minutes from the Marriott Sawgrass Resort. Nestled in beautiful Ponte Vedra, The Oak Bridge Club boasts an active membership and friendly, professional staff that make it an ideal setting to entertain family, friends or clients.
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.
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.
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.
Much of the Brooksville Country Club golf course, a 6,871-yard, par-72 track that opened in 1971, weaves through mature live oak trees with rolling fairways and elevated tees.
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.
The Eagles Golf Club is one of the most popular public golf facilities in the Tampa area. The club offers two championship courses, the Lakes and the Forest, that each provides a different experience. The Forest Course is the shorter of the two at 6,719 yards, but it's no less challenging.
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 Magnolia Landing Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers, FL is a public golf course that opened in 2007. The Magnolia Landing Golf & Country Club measures 7265 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 142 and a 75.
Carved from forests of towering oaks and pines, Old Corkscrew Golf Club exhibits all of the superior characteristics that define Nicklaus Signature courses. The absence of houses around the golf course adds to the secluded and peaceful feel that is provided by the dense thickets of trees that surround it.
Myerlee Golf & Country Club began as the dream of a retired New York police officer who moved to Florida in the 1960s just so he could play more golf. His dream eventually became a peaceful retirement community with a beautiful 18-hole course as its centerpiece. The Arthur Hills-designed layout is one of the toughest par-60 golf courses in southwest Florida.
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.
Flamingo Lakes Golf & Country Club in Pembroke Pines is a Broward County favorite. The par-71 course is challenging but at the same time player friendly enough to appeal to a range of skill levels. The course has a hilly terrain, a unique feature for Florida golf courses, that provide a variety of different lies.
The Country Club of Coral Springs is popular among the surrounding communities, known for its excellent conditions and family-friendly atmosphere, but it's also a hidden gem for visitors too. In addition to golf, the club also has six tennis courts available.
The Senator Course is an excellent venue for tournaments, offering a layout that is challenging, but playable. The golf course provides a quick round as well, it can usually be played in just over four hours.