Florida gone bowling: Where to play golf when watching your college football team's bowl game
Florida is the Bowling State.
With six bowl games this holiday season, no state has more post-season college football action, and there are plenty of national powerhouses rolling through. Before Stanford and Virginia Tech square off in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, the previous five bowls will feature such big-time programs as Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Penn State.
The weather should be warm and the stakes will be high on the gridiron, so bring your clubs, your mascot head covers and take on one of the many golf courses near the action. And no matter where you are, from the Tampa-St. Pete area, to Miami, Jacksonville or Orlando, you're within a chip shot of a top PGA Tour venue.
Here are the best options for golf around each of Florida's bowl games.
Beef 'O Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, Dec. 21
The matchup: Southern Miss vs. Louisville.
There's a lot of affordable golf in Tampa and St. Pete, though four-course Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club steals the show with its PGA Tour-adored Copperhead course. All four courses have a sandhills-like terrain over the flatter land surrounding them.
Champ Sports Bowl, Dec. 28 and the Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando
The Matchups: West Virginia vs. N.C. State (Champs Sports Bowl), Alabama vs. Michigan State (Capital One Bowl)
For more daily-fee type courses, try MetroWest Golf Club or Celebration Golf Club, both Robert Trent Jones family designs. East of Orlando, Harmony Golf Preserve is a big, free-swinging Johnny Miller design run by Troon Golf that is certainly worth the 40-minute drive.
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa
The matchup: Florida vs. Penn State
Beyond Innisbrook, try the TPC Tampa Bay, a PGA Tour-worthy Bobby Weed/Chi Chi Rodriguez design that invites public play.
Or, for something truly un-Florida-like, head about an hour north to remote World Woods, home to two Tom Fazio designs, including the highly touted Pine Barrens course, which offers a little slice of Pine Valley.
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1, Jacksonville
The matchup: Mississippi St. vs. Michigan
Florida's First Coast is full of options. From Jacksonville, head a few miles south to TPC Sawgrass. Even if you don't play the famous Players Stadium Course, the neighboring Valley Course is another Pete Dye design with its own formidable challenges.
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3, Miami
The Matchup: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
The obvious option for golf in Miami is five-course Doral Resort & Spa, home of the TPC Blue Monster plus four other courses, including the new Jim McLean Signature Course (formerly called the Silver Course). The Turnberry Isle also offers posh accommodations and course conditions on 36 holes just off the beach.
For a top daily-fee option, head to Crandon Park Golf Course, the city's beloved municipal play on Key Biscayne.
December 15, 2010