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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
The 18-hole Legacy Golf Club in Bradenton, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1997. Designed by Arnold Palmer, Legacy Golf Club measures 7008 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 131 and a 73.
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.
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.
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.
The 18-hole Bartow Golf Course in Bartow, FL is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1921. Designed by Donald Ross, Bartow Golf Course measures 6623 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 126 and a 72 USGA rating.
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.
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.
The 18-hole Mallards Landing Golf Course at Melbourne in Melbourne, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1969. Designed by Bill Amick, Mallards Landing Golf Course at Melbourne measures 6955 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 119 and a 72.
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.
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.
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.
Carved from rolling orange groves and native, protected wetlands, Mystic Dunes Golf Club sits on the edge of the premier travel destination in the world yet offers a feeling of escape from it all. Located just two miles south of Walt Disney World, Mystic Dunes was designed by PGA Tour player and NBC golf analyst Gary Koch.
Providence Golf Club meanders through forests of ancient hardwoods, freshwater creeks, and natural wetlands. The course's scenic landscape also serves as home to an abundance of wildlife including otters, deer, and wild turkeys.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Deltona Club holds the distinction of being ranked as one of the top 20 public golf courses in Florida. The club has roots that date back to the late 1950s. It is a remake of one of the state's earliest planned communities. Bobby Weed redesigned the golf course, improving its aesthetic appeal and giving it more playability.
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.
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 18-hole Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach, FL is a public golf course that opened in 1997. Designed by Tommy Fazio, Eagle Marsh Golf Club measures 6918 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 144 and a 74 USGA rating.
The Jack Nicklaus-signature layout is easily the star of North Palm Beach Country Club. The recently redesigned, links-style course is one of only two Nicklaus Signature Municipal plays in the United States.
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.
Stonybrook Golf Club boasts seven sets of tees, making it a truly versatile course that any skill level can play. The layout features wide fairways with generous landing areas leading to large, undulating greens that are bordered by intimidating bunkers and contoured mounding.
Bonita Fairways is situated near Bonita Beach, just a few minutes from the Southwest Florida International Airport. The executive golf course is made up of seven par 4s and the rest are par 3s. The unique layout will test both your short game and long game.
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 6729 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 129 and a 74.
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.
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.
Since opening in 1965, Hillcrest Golf & Country Club in Hollywood has matured into a beautiful layout. Although Joe Lee redesigned the course in 2000, the classic features of the design were carefully preserved. The renovation added mounding, sand traps, and lakes to make the golf course even more challenging.
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.
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.
Overlooking the scenic Long Bayou, Seminole Lake Country Club has a lush landscape that showcases the best of Florida golf. Calming views of the bayou are joined by refreshing coastal breezes, providing the perfect atmosphere for a casual round.
River Wilderness Golf & Country Club is situated along the north shore of the Manatee River. The course is the centerpiece of a gated golf-and-boating community and it is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. The layout stretches across more than 150 acres of scenic terrain that offers a mix of woodlands and wetlands.