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 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.
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.
Julington Creek Golf Club (formerly known as Champions Club at Julington Creek) is located in southeast Jacksonville, carved into the wetlands along Julington Creek. The golf course wanders through forests of mature trees and sparkling lakes, providing a peaceful setting that is ideal for a round of golf.
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 San Carlos Golf Club in Fort Myers, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1971. Designed by John E. O'Connor, San Carlos Golf Club measures 6465 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 121 and a 71 USGA rating.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 18-hole Deer Run at Sun 'n Lake Golf & Country Club in Sebring, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1976. Designed by Don Dyer, Deer Run at Sun 'n Lake Golf & Country Club measures 7002 yards from the longest tees.
The 9-hole Lake June West Golf Course in Lake Placid, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1980. Lake June West Golf Course measures 1368 yards from the longest tees. Greens and fairways are bermuda grass.
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 9-hole Jefferson Country Club in Monticello, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1964. Designed by Bill Amick, Jefferson Country Club measures 3124 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 117 and a 34.2 USGA rating. The course features 2 sets of tees for different skill levels.
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.
This Robert Trent Jones Sr. design is one of the area’s most venerable venues. The fluid beauty of MetroWest provides for a challenging but playable experience. Wide rolling fairways give all levels of players the opportunity to find the short grass, and the four sets of tees working from 7,051 yards down to the 5,325-yard forward tees make hitting greens in regulation a reasonable endeavor.
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.
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!
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 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 Palm Beach Par 3 Course is situated right along the beach, offering stunning views of the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. The tropical setting is perfect for a round. Originally opened in 1961, the golf course underwent a major redesign in 2009 headed by Hall of Fame golfer Ray Floyd to make it more challenging and improve its playability.
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.
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 122 and a 71 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.
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.
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 18-hole East Course at Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1970. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. , East Course at Inverrary Country Club measures 7112 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 128 and a 74.
The Bridges at Springtree Golf Club in Sunrise originally opened in 1972 but it was completely remodeled in 2010, revealing a course that is still just as playable as the original layout but also more challenging. The greens were restored and a state-of-the-art irrigation system was added to keep playing conditions at their best
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.
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.
Heritage Harbor Golf & Country Club in Lutz shares a home with a variety of birds including hawks, ospreys, loons, ibis, herons and kingfishers. In addition to being a bird sanctuary, this 18-hole public golf course provides a challenging round.
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.