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.
Pebble Creek Golf Club is one of Tampa's most well known courses. Once just a local favorite, it has since garnered a reputation among visiting golfers as well. The golf course exemplifies the beauty of the Florida landscape. The layout weaves through mature pines and 40-year-old grandfather oaks draped with Spanish moss.
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.
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 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.
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.
Bluewater Bay Resort in Niceville sits along the shores of Choctawhatchee Bay with Florida's famous white sand beaches in view. It is one of Destin's most popular places to play. The resort boasts four nine-hole golf courses designed by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate. The Lake, Bay, Magnolia, and Marsh Courses all have varied landscapes that provide a different set of challenges on each.
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.
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, Ponte Vedra Golf & Country Club at Sawgrass 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 5155 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 119 and a 65.
Aquarina Country Club sits at the halfway point between Melbourne Beach and Vero Beach with the Atlantic Ocean bordering it on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. The layout is also routed around eleven different lakes that come into play frequently throughout the course. Accuracy will be rewarded at Aquarina Country Club, but it's not an overly punishing golf course overall.
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 course at the Grande Pines Golf Club has been named one of "America's Best Resort Courses" by Golfweek. The challenging golf course is nestled amongst lakes and dense forestry including pines, oaks, and palms. There is also native flora and wetlands on the course; it is even a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Colonial Country Club is located within a gated residential community, the 18-hole golf course serves as the centerpiece of this peaceful community. Designed by Gordon Lewis, the layout offers a variety of different yardage lengths with the longest tees stretching to a whopping 7,385 yards. The golf course can accommodate players of all skill levels.
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 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.
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.
DeBary Golf and Country Club, a Lloyd Clifton-designed course sits on hilly land. The layout is fascinating. No two holes feel similar. Only two holes have water, but there is significant sand. Dense woods of pine and evergreen border the fairways.
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!
Grand Haven Golf Course in Palm Coast is a Jack Nicklaus-designed championship layout that sits just minutes from the ocean, providing scenic views of the Intracoastal Waterway from nearly every hole. The layout features all of Nicklaus' trademark features including generous, player-friendly fairways.
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.
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.
Madison Green Golf 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 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.
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.
Jacaranda Golf Club boasts two championship courses that are both four-star rated by Golf Digest. The courses, the East and the West, have a lush, tropical setting amongst towering palm trees and colorful vegetation. The West Course winds through a series of ponds, canals, and lagoons, which come into play throughout the course.
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.
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.
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.
Stone Creek Golf & Country Club stretches across more 185 acres of Ocala's rolling hills and lush green countryside. The lengthy course stretches to 7,221 yards from the back tees. The challenging layout is known for being one of the best public golf courses in Ocala and the surrounding area.
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 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.
Rosedale Golf & Country Club boasts beautiful conditions and friendly service that has made it the most popular golf course in Bradenton. The layout is somewhat tight but scenic pockets of nature and stands of trees give it a more spacious feel. The fast greens roll true and are often framed by tricky hazards.
Legacy Golf Club in Bradenton is an Arnold Palmer signature design that is one of southwest Florida's premier courses. The challenging but fair layout will appeal to players of all skill levels. The course features multiple elevated tees and like a true Palmer course, there is water and sand surrounding nearly every hole.