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 Great Outdoors Golf Club in Titusville, FL is a resort golf course that opened in 1988. Designed by Ron Garl, Great Outdoors Golf Club measures 6542 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 125 and a 71.
The 18-hole Crane Creek Reserve Golf Course at Melbourne in Melbourne, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1926. Designed by Bill Amick, Crane Creek Reserve Golf Course at Melbourne measures 5886 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 115 and a 67.
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.
Sixty-three white sand bunkers, water on 11 holes and 7074 yards in length make Pine Lakes one of north-central Florida's most challenging courses. The rolling fairways and manicured greens are always beautifully maintained.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Designed by renowned Bobby Weed, Fleming Island captures the essence of the northeastern Florida landscape. While playing the front nine you have to hack through the notorious low wetlands of thick palmetto bushes and Spanish dagger, and weave dubiously through a smattering of lakes and marshy quarters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Located in Ave Maria, Panther Run Golf Club is less than 30 minutes from Naples but it has a much more secluded feel. The course was built with a strong dedication to preserving the landscape's beautiful natural features and significant environmental resources, even as residences started being developed.
Copperhead Golf & Country Club in Lehigh Acres is conveniently situated just minutes from the beautiful white sand beaches of Ft. Myers, Sanibel, and the Captiva Islands. Lehigh Acres sits atop the highest elevation in Lee County, ranging from 27 to 30 feet above sea level, which puts it at a great position for golf.
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 Saddlebrook Course is one of two Arnold Palmer championship designs at Saddlebrook Resort, located about 30 minutes north of Tampa. The 18-hole, par-70 layout is tighter and flatter than its sister course, the Palmer, so hitting it straight off the tee is key.
The 18-hole Forest Course at The Eagles Golf Club in Odessa, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1995. Forest Course at The Eagles Golf Club measures 6604 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 134 and a 72.
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.
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 6783 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 143 and a 73.
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.
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.
The Country Club of Miami boasts 36 holes of championship golf, where the club's most famous member, comedian Jackie Gleeson, hosted other celebrity players including Bob Hope and Bing Cosby. The West Course is much longer than the East Course, stretching to over 7,000 yards from the back tees. The rolling greens can be quite difficult but they are nicely balanced by generous fairways.
Shula's Golf Club in Miami Lakes is home to the championship Senator Course as well as an executive par-3 course. 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.
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.
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 18-hole Red Tail Club in Sorrento, FL is a private golf course that opened in 2004. Red Tail Club measures 7152 yards from the longest tees. The course features 5 sets of tees for different skill levels.
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.
Eagle Dunes Golf Club in Sorrento sprawls across rolling elevation changes that aren't typically found on central Florida courses. The course also claims to have the area's truest putting surfaces. The layout stretches to just over 7,024 yards from the back tees.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
Destin is recognized as a top golf destination, and no where is it better represented than at beautiful Emerald Bay. Designed by Bob Cupp, Emerald Bay is a 18 hole championship course believed by many to be one of northwest Florida's very best.
Situated in Gulf Breeze, along the shores of the Santa Rosa Sound, Tiger Point Golf Club takes full advantage of the beautiful water views. The golf course is conveniently located just minutes from the white sands of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach. The East Course is a Scottish links layout that stretches to 7,041 yards from the back tees. With six different sets of tees, golfers of all skill levels can find the right level of difficulty for their handicap.
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.
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 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.
The 18-hole Golf Club at Summerbrooke in Tallahassee, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1993. Designed by Dean Refram, Golf Club at Summerbrooke measures 6845 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 140 and a 73.
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.