The Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
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.
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.
IMG Academy Golf Club offers a challenging, but rewarding golf experience no matter what skill level. Towering oaks and pine trees dot the course as well as a few sparkling lakes. Opened in 1972, the golf course underwent a major renovation in 2003 that has made it one of the most technically advanced golf courses in southwest Florida.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sherwood Golf Club in Titusville originally opened in 1965 as a nine-hole course. Over the years it has changed ownership and undergone major renovations including the expansion into an 18-hole course. The player-friendly design features forgiving fairways and inviting greens. There are bunkers strategically placed along the greensides and fairways and water also comes into play on a few holes.
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.
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.
Located in Sun City Center, Club Renaissance is one of several golf courses in the area owned and operated by ClubLink. The layout stretches to just over 6,700 yards from the back tees and water comes into play on nearly every hole.
Wentworth Golf Club boasts a reputation of being the best golf course in Tarpon Springs. The layout is routed across a beautiful landscape of woodlands and water. The front nine weaves through mature pine and oak trees while the back nine presents a traditional Scottish-links design that will test your shot-making abilities.
Located in the heart of Clearwater, Clearwater Country Club opened in 1920, making it one of the oldest golf courses in Pinellas County. Since opening, the landscape has matured beautifully with large moss-draped, oak trees framing the fairways and greens. There have been some changes to the golf course over the years, including new Bermuda grass tees and greens.
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.
Located a short distance from the Walt Disney World Resort and Orlando's airport, Hunter's Creek Golf Course offers a challenging game. It is the longest golf course in Florida and has been rated among the top 75 public courses in the U.S. The course winds through stately pines and thirteen lakes
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 Falcon's Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1993. Designed by Rees Jones, Falcon's Fire Golf Club measures 7006 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 135 and a 73.2 USGA rating. The course features 4 sets of tees for different skill levels. The greens are tifdwarf bermuda and the fairways are bermuda grass.
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.
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.
Magnolia Point Golf & Country Club is home to 27 holes of championship golf. The holes are divided into three par-36 nines that can be played as different 18-hole combinations. They each have their different challenges but they are all player friendly enough to appeal to high and low handicappers alike. The White nine is the longest of the three at 3,494 yards from the back tees and it's arguably the most challenging.
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.
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 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.
Eagle Marsh Golf Club is a Tom Fazio design that is one of southern Florida's premier golfing destinations. Located in Jensen Beach, the course sits at the heart of the Treasure Coast. The course winds through natural wetlands with marshes separating each hole.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 18-hole TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, FL is a private golf course that opened in 1983. Designed by Arthur Hills, TPC Eagle Trace measures 7040 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 144 and a 75.
Seven 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.