Florida is green – not only the luscious landscapes and natural habitat but also the renewable energy initiatives taking hold, the dollars pouring in from tourism and, of course, the golf courses dotting the state. With perpetual sunshine and warm temperatures year-round, Florida’s greens are a golfer’s paradise, and we have some of the best golf courses in the world, both public and private. Here are a few of Florida golfing gems, courtesy of Golf.com:
With a rich history of the earliest settlements in the U.S. where some of the first golf courses were built, along with the natural beauty of the area, and the World Golf Hall of Fame to boot, here golfers delight in finding some of the best courses in the country. Jacksonville, in particular, tops the list for this area’s golfing options. There are 488,000 yards of greens, over 1,220 holes and 70 courses in Jacksonville alone, some designed by best in the business. Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches offers suggestions of the top five courses to play: In the Beaches area, golf at Windsor Parke, Champions Club and Queens Harbour; in Jacksonville’s Southside District tee off at 4) Deercreek Country Club; and on the Westside, visit 5) Bent Creek Country Club.
The Windsor Parke Golf Club was rated the 4th best new course in the nation for Golf Digest and Golf News rated it in the top 100 golf courses in Florida. The National Golf Course Owners Association recognized the course as being “beginner-friendly.” Voted by Golf Magazine as Florida’s top public course and also seen as the world’s most famous golf course, TPC Sawgrass was designed by Pete Dye in 1981. Every May the PGA Tour comes to this course for The Players Championship. Bent Creek with its 18 holes, the course makes it way through the natural setting of native Florida wetlands and was once voted as one of the Best Places to Play by Golf Digest. Blue Sky was just renovated to the tune of $1.5 million dollars, making it a top contender for one of the must-play courses in Jacksonville. Offering a relaxed atmosphere for the casual golfer, there is no dress code and it is a short drive from everything you love about living or visiting the area. Julington Creek was designed by PGA pros, so it is both challenging but also playable. A public course, Julington Creek Golf Club is rated as one of the top 100 best courses in Florida.
Elsewhere in Northern Florida, the Panhandle region – also called the Emerald Coast because of its striking water color of the Gulf of Mexico, features stunning white sand beaches and terrific golf. Raven at Sandestin hosts the Champions Tour events and sets the standard in service levels for northwest Florida-area courses. Back on the northeast coastal area, St. Augustine, home of the World Golf Hall of Fame, offers world-class golfing at World Golf Village.
Home to many professional golfers, both active and retired, Central Florida has more golf courses per capita than any other area in the world. It seems like half of the PGA Tour makes Orlando home. Bay Hill Club & Lodge was the winter home of the late great Arnold Palmer and is Golf Magazine’s third-best public course in Florida. Reunion Resort open to resort guests only, was designed by three golf legends. Waldorf Astoria Club is surrounded on three sides by the Disney Resort. The Grand Cypress Resort celebrates its 25th anniversary, the Southern Dunes Golf & Country Club was designed by Steve Smyers, and the course Disney World is Tom Fazio’s Osprey Ridge, distinguished by its mounds, wetlands and huge, very three-puttable greens. The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes and Orange County National join Greg Norman-designed Champions Gate to round out the Orlando-area facilities for great golf.
But there is sooooo much more to Central Florida than Orlando. Head west to Tampa and you’ll find Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort and the World Woods Golf Club. Farther south, still considered Central Florida but geographically identified as the Southwest coast around Naples and Ft. Myers, you have your choice of golf courses – Naples alone has 80! Find some great golf at Old Corkscrew, TPC Treviso Bay and Tiburon Golf Club.
From the Palm Beaches to Miami, you can find great golfing at both public and private courses. Must-play courses include Trump’s Doral, playing host to the PGA tour for 54 years until 2017, when they moved along and headed to Mexico. Doral is still ranked the sixth best public course in the state. Turnberry Isle is located in Aventura, just north of Miami, and the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens is host to the Ryder Cup, PGA Championship, and multiple Senior PGAs. Also in Palm Beach, the landmark Breakers provides glimpses of the beach. Head north to North Palm Beach for what has been transformed into a marvelous public-access golf course, and even further north to Port St. Lucie to find the PGA Golf Club with terrific views.
Every city in South Florida seems to have a golf course – Miami Beach has two – either associated with a country club or open to the public. Including in the list of the best courses in South Florida find Normandy Shores Golf Club on the shores of Biscayne Bay and Colony West Country Club in Tamarac, just west of Ft. Lauderdale.
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