While Florida's tourism industry stemmed from its breathtaking beaches and world-
renowned theme parks, it has established itself as a first-class golf destination.
Although there are top golf courses to be found throughout the state, the areas of
Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami are making the largest impact on the
state's golf industry.
Tampa Bay Area
The Tampa Bay Area is the fastest growing golf region in the state although it has
not quite established itself among the “greats” yet. The area is gaining notoriety
with first-class resorts, upscale daily fee courses, and a number of public access
facilities for any level or price range. If you are looking for a course with an old
time Florida feel, spend a day on the Copperhead Course at Westin Innisbrook. It
has been labeled one of the top golf resorts in the country due to its full character
and challenging features. The course is lush and green with plenty of risk and
reward opportunities. The Copperhead Course is open only to resort guests,
members, and friends of members with greens fees of $ 160 for guests.
A new arrival to the Tampa Golf scene can be found just a short drive north of the
city. World Woods Golf Club was recently developed with two courses, a nine-hole
short course, and a state of the art practice center. The Pine Barrens and Rolling
Oaks courses provide two different golf experiences. Pine Barrens is uniquely
challenging, making for an enjoyable round while Rolling Oaks is full of relaxing
dips and peaceful climbs through Florida farmland. Both courses are worth a visit to
this new golf club and with 700 hotel rooms within a 20-minute drive, you can
make a vacation of it.
Although, historically, Walt Disney World and other theme park attractions have
overshadowed the Orlando golf scene, the area is full of top-rated courses and
first-rate golf resorts. There are between 100 and 150 courses in the area and
Orlando is host to two PGA tour events. In an article about Orlando golf, one cannot
overlook the Bay Hill Club and Lodge. One of the most prestigious semi-private
clubs in the country, it has been a part of the PGA tour since 1979. The club has
three nine-hole courses, the Challenger, the Champion, and the Charger. Bay Hill
makes an effort to provide top of the line service by enhancing the smallest details.
For example, each foursome at the club gets a forecaddie with no extra charge to
haul clubs, rake sand traps, and provide tips on difficult shots. You must be a guest
or resort member to play these courses with greens fees of $ 175 per round during
The North-South course at Grand Cypress Villas, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is one
of the most well groomed courses in Florida. This combined with man-made rolling
fairways and turtleback greens makes for very enjoyable play. The course has been
labeled as roomy but challenging and is a must visit for any golfer in the Orlando
Area. Greens fees run from $ 115 to $ 180, well worth a day away from The Mouse.
Jacksonville, one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast, has a great waterfront
setting and is a well-established golfing destination. The city and its surrounding
areas are home to 68 courses, the PGA and Senior PGA tour headquarters, and the
World Golf Village, just a few minutes down I-95. The courses in Jacksonville
require accuracy but are known to provide plenty of variety. The world famous TPC
at Sawgrass was built in 1981 and is the annual host of the Tournament Players
Championship. The two courses, the Stadium and Valley, are maintained to
remarkably high standards but are two very different golfing experiences. The
Stadium Course, home to the infamous 17th island green, the most photographed
hole in golf, is known for fast greens and tight fairways. This course can fool any
level of golfer into a feeling of false security with hidden bunkers and tricky water
hazards. The younger sibling, the Valley Course, is more technically extreme but is
often overlooked. The larger greens and fairways make for a more lighthearted
golfing experience. To play, one must be a guest at the Marriot at Sawgrass or a
member. Greens fees range from $ 140 to $ 305 for the Stadium Course and $ 110
to $ 170 for the Valley Course.
The World Golf Village is home to two courses, both with two distinct nines, one
open and one wooded. The King & The Bear, designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack
Nicklaus, has recently joined the Slammer & The Squire to offer great courses all
designed by the best in the business. The Slammer & The Squire course has plenty
of lakes with rolling fairways while the newer course focuses more on aesthetics
without compromising the quality of play. Players with great short game execution
will enjoy The Slammer & The Squire while The King & The Bear requires accuracy
with distance and placement. These fine courses coupled with the World Golf Hall
of Fame and all the attractions that accompany it are a great way to enhance your
Jacksonville golf experience. Greens fees are $ 99 to $ 179 for the older course and
$ 125 to $ 200 for The King and The Bear.
It is easy to add golf to any luxurious Miami vacation. With world-class resorts,
infamous South Beach, and a host of semi-private courses in its back yard, Miami
has become a top golf vacation destination. PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens
offers golfers five tournament caliber courses all ranked by Zagat for “America's Top
Courses. “There is a course for every kind of player at PGA National whether you are
a seasoned pro or someone just getting into the game. The Haig, The General, The
Champ, The Squire, and The Estate are unique and offer something a little different.
The Haig, the first course developed was intended to and does offer quality golf for
all players. Qualities such as having no crossing water hazards evens the playing
field regardless of skill. The newest course is The General, modeled after Scottish
courses. Players will see these roots in its rising and falling fairways and common
greens. The most renowned of the five is The Champ, offering the finest playing
surface available anywhere in the world. For information regarding tee times and
golf packages, visit the PGA National website.
Perhaps the most revered of South Florida golf resorts is the Doral Golf Resort and
Spa. The Doral is home to 5 courses, nine pro shops, and a top-rated spa. The
Blue Monster, The Great White, The Red, The Silver, and The Gold are world-
renowned for fantastic golf and with water on over 60 of the 90 holes, they are also
known for their challenge. The Great White, designed by Greg Norman, and The
Blue Monster, one of the most recognizable courses in the country, are the top two
courses at Doral. The Great White, framed by palm trees and white sand, is difficult
to play and favors those who play position golf. The Blue Monster is known for
huge water hazards, unforgiving rough, and an 18th hole that is one of the toughest
finishes on the PGA Tour. The Greens Fees range from $ 100 to $ 225 depending on
the course and season.
A Florida golf vacation can be enjoyed regardless of what destination you choose.
From Jacksonville to Miami and Tampa to Orlando there are countless top rated golf
resorts, clubs, and courses for you to choose from. These destinations, coupled
with fantastic vacation rental homes make the Sunshine State a great place to stay