Florida is the Sunshine State for a reason. If you are someone who is trying to play golf year round, Florida is the place to be in the winter months. In honor of National Florida Day here are 10 of the best Florida courses in no particular order
Seminole Golf Club
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Located in Juno Beach and designed by Donald Ross in 1920, Seminole was one of the first highly notable and touted courses in America’s southern-most state. This course is situated on the Atlantic coast and is considered by most to be an example of perfect course routing. It has small greens and many sand dune ridges that were purposely included to test every player. There is no official course website, but you can check it out on Golf Advisor or call them at 1 (561)-626-0280.
TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course
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The famous 17th green at Sawgrass isn’t the only feature that makes this course one of the best in Florida, let alone the entire country. Designer genius Peter Dye artfully put this course together into a stunning final product. The land that Sawgrass is built on started out as swamps and lagoons, but thanks to some world class drainage work, the course became a reality. This course is a par-72 and maxes out at 7,215 yards. Check it out.
Jupiter Hills Golf Club
Although there are two main courses that make up Jupiter Hills, The Hills layout, also the original, takes the cake at this club. Despite Florida being mostly flat topographically, elevation change is one of the most noticeable characteristics with a 60-foot elevation difference between the highest and lowest point. Comedian Bob Hope was one of the biggest advocates for this course to be built, pleading that southeast Florida needed an exclusive, private golf club. Check it out.
Black Diamond Ranch
The notable Tom Fazio designed this course which opened in 1987 in Lecanto, which is 50 miles north of Tampa Bay. The entire ranch contains the 18-hole Ranch Course, the 9-hole Highlands course, a 30-bay driving range and over 800 homes. On the 13th hole of the Ranch course, you stand atop a tee box that is 75 feet above the quarry that looks out over a massive chasm and a green that is 183 yards away. Some have compared it to the 8th at Pebble Beach. See it here.
The Concession Golf Club
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This course is perhaps the one with the most history on this list. Jack Nicklaus designed this course in collaboration with Tony Jacklin, with whom he has a special connection. During the 1969 Ryder Cup, the two professionals came to the 18th green with the scores tied. Nicklaus would drain his four-footer for par and then shocked the world by conceding what would have been a tricky two-footer to Tony Jacklin. This lead to the first tie in the history of the Ryder Cup and that move has been known simply as “The Concession” ever since. The two wanted their course to represent and honor all things Ryder Cup from the day it opened. Take a look.
World Woods (Pine Barrens)
Yukihisa Inoue, president of World Woods, lives by the philosophy that world-class golf should be available for all to play, despite status or wealth. We thank him for that and for this course, designed by Tom Fazio. The fairways are naturally lined with towering pines, so the streaky hitter off the tee might have a tough day. This course’s mission statement is “to provide the greatest experience that our guests have ever encountered at a golf facility in regard to golf course conditioning, service, professionalism and overall staff knowledge and to thereby become the #1 golf facility in the USA.” Pretty bold. Visit their site.
Indian Creek Country Club
Indian Creek is located smack in the middle of Bal Harbor and Miami Beach on Indian Creek Island. William S. Flynn designed this course that also has an unusual amount of towering pines. Due to it being perched on an island, it is a very isolated course which adds a whimsical feel. You’ll need to befriend a member to play here, though. It is a modest 6,600-yards in length with a par of 72. Check it out.
Old Memorial Golf Course
Order a steak for lunch or dinner if you play at Old Memorial. It is situated in Tampa, which is the same home city of the headquarters of Outback Steakhouse. The founders of Outback wanted their own private course to slip away to for a few holes after work, and they lobbied Steve Smyers to fashion up a course for their use that was also opened to the public in 1997. One of its most notable features are the large, sweeping bunkers that cover much of the acreage. See the course.
Bay Hill Golf Club
This course sits on what used to be an orange grove. Fitting enough for Florida, but today it has a much different reason for fame. The late Arnold Palmer bought this course and made it his winter home in 1976 after enjoying playing there so much. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is played here each year which attracts big name sponsors and top pros. The 27-hole facility is made up of the Champion, Challenger, and Charger loops. The Champion and Challenger are the two sets of nine that the Invitational is played on. See the course.
Naples National Golf Club
Naples National Golf Club is located a couple of miles to the east of downtown Naples and is member-owned, interestingly enough. This course was designed in 1992 and utilizes intricately tended fairways and sand scrub waste areas as borders. Parallels have been drawn to Naples National and Augusta National, regarding less of the topography and landscape of the course and more of the way that it is conditioned. It is absolutely polished to perfection with pristine playing surfaces that mesh perfectly with the surrounding nature. Check it out.