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.
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 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.
The Rolling Oaks Course provides the second world-class layout at World Woods. An entirely different, yet no less enjoyable experience than playing Pine Barrens, this course's name also gives clue to its design.
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.
The Grand Club in Palm Coast offers 54 holes of golf designed by two of the most recognizable names in golf. The club has three 18-hole courses, one of which is the Gary Player-designed Cypress Knoll Course. Cypress Knoll has a diverse terrain that makes for an interesting round.
Walkabout 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.
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.
The Bradenton-Sarasota region of Florida fits the definition of overlooked and underrated by both tourists and golfers alike.
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.
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.
River Run Golf Links is a municipal course owned by the city of Bradenton. The layout is player friendly enough for all skill levels to enjoy but it's also a fair test that is anything but boring.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
TPC Treviso Bay was a collaborative effort between Arthur Hills and PGA Tour player consultant Hal Sutton. Their mission was to create a golf course that will not only test your skills with your clubs but will also make you think.
Raptor Bay Golf Club in Bonita Springs has the distinction of being the first resort course to receive Audubon International's Gold Signature Certification. The course sprawls across more than 200 acres of pristine wetlands and nature preserves.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Orangebrook Country Club originally opened as an 18-hole course in 1933, making it one of the oldest clubs in Hollywood. An additional 18 holes were added in 1959. The two courses, the East and West, offer traditional Florida links golf at an affordable price.
Grand Palms offers three nines: Royal, Sabal, and Grand, which are played in three different 18-hole combinations. The golf courses sprawl across a landscape of tropical foliage and swaying palms, showcasing the best of what south Florida golf has to offer.
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.
A Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, the Eagle Golf Course at President Golf Club boasts championship Bermuda greens. Jones also lined the fairways with coquina and accented the course with pampas grass, both of which help bring out the beauty of the natural landscape.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two 18-hole courses rest on the 900-acre retreat that is all about golf -- not condos or summer homes. Panther Lakes is the flashier of the two designs at Orange County National, most say, because no two holes are the same.
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.
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.