In Florida, golfers may choose from more golf courses per capita than most places in the world. The Sunshine state boasts more than 1,250 golf courses, far more than any other state and more than many countries. While many are open to the public, some of the best are not and will require cunning and perseverance to play.
1. Seminole Golf Club
Just a scant 7 miles north of West Palm Beach. The course features a number of sand dune ridges that were carefully brought into play with some fairways directed towards elevated green sites while others drop down from sandy peaks to flatter terrain. Seminole has hosted kings and presidents: Dwight Eisenhower was an honorary member; Gerald Ford and JFK played it often; and the Duke of Windsor was a member. To give a sense of the level of prominence of its membership, in 1947 members included Joseph P. Kennedy, Henry Ford II, Jack Chrysler, Paul Mellon, Phillip Armour, John Pillsbury and Robert Vanderbilt. Set on sand ridges near the Atlantic Ocean, the course only has water views in a limited number of places. Seminole has been compared to The Old Course at St. Andrews and Shinnecock Hills. You won't be disappointed if you get the chance to play.
Cost: Private, Invitation Only
2. TPC Sawgrass
Working with golf course architect Pete Dye, PGA Commissioner Deane Beman wanted a course design that would favor no particular player or style of play. To meet this goal, an extensive effort was made to design a balanced golf course. With its signature island green, the 17th hole is one of the most widely-recognized golf holes in the world.
3. Streamsong Golf Resort
Easily accessible, just a 90-minute drive from the Orlando airport and a 60-minute drive from the one in Tampa. This is one of those golf destinations worth going out of your way for, for sure. With two courses to choose from, you'll probably want to try and play both. The signature hole is the 16th, a picturesque 208-yard par 3.
Phone: (888) 294-6322
4. World Woods
Come play 36 holes on what course designer Tom Fazio called "my best work." With two of the ‘top 10’ public access golf courses in Florida on the same property, it is a ‘golfers paradise’. In 2010, the Rolling Oaks greens were renovated with Tifteagle which has created wonderful putting surfaces. The Pine Barrens has a Floradwarf grass, a strand of dwarf grass that also provides consistent putting surfaces making an exceptional 36 hole experience.
5. Calusa Pines Golf Club
Calusa Pines features outstanding vistas generated by sweeping ridges that influences ten golf holes. The course is perched on the highest land point in south Florida. With its lush vegetation you'll feel like you are in a botanical garden. The club doesn't release membership information, has no tee times, and features a strong caddie program as members and guests are encouraged to walk the course.
6. Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead Course
The Copperhead Course is probably best known thanks to the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship Tournament that attracts some of the best golfers each year – but it also has excellent conditions, some very fun holes, and a few holes that are very challenging. Once you've completed the first 14, your biggest challenge awaits. The last four holes - Snake Bite, Moccasin, The Rattler, and The Copperhead - have a nasty bite with strategically placed bunkers, challenging green complexes, dog legs with tight fairways and some of the toughest approach shots in the golf world.
Cost: $250 - $275
7. Jupiter Hills Golf Club
In the late 1960’s, William Elliott, George Fazio, William Clay Ford, Sr., and Bob Hope joined ranks for the purpose of establishing an exclusive, private golf club in southeast Florida – a club that would eventually rank among the finest in the world. The Jupiter Hills Club they formed, with its two marvelous 18-hole championship courses, has achieved the singular distinction the original founders conceived for it. It is today considered one of America’s finest private golf clubs.
8. Hammock Beach Resort
With Signature design courses by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, golfers can choose to take in breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean from 6 different holes or take on the longest and most-challenging course in the state. The Ocean Course is lauded for its charm and beauty and often mentioned in lists of the country's best resort courses. the Conservatory Course includes nearly 76 acres of man-made lakes and three waterfall features. Currently ranked the longest and hardest course in the state.
9. Crandon Golf
You haven't golfed until you've played the game on a barrier island enveloped by the tropics. Crandon Golf Club features seven saltwater lakes, challenging sand traps, mangrove thickets, and holes overlooking Biscayne Bay. Originally designed by Devlin/Von Hagge in 1972 and redesigned by Von Hagge in 1993, this 18-hole championship course is one of the top public golf courses in America, and well worth your time.
10. Mission Inn Resort & Club
The El Campeón 18-hole championship course was designed by Chicago-based course architect, George O'Neil and built in 1917 - with further enhancements in 1926 by Charles E. Clarke of Troon, Scotland. The course's signature hole is the par 5, 17th hole - which features a long double dogleg that has more obstacles than some entire courses!
Cost: $20 - $75
11. Orange County National
With three courses, including a 9-hole course in case you need an emergency nine after playing the two championship courses, has everything you could want in a golf course. The Crooked Cat Course is a challenge with dramatic elevation changes and rolling fairways. The Panther Lake Course, the original course at Orange County National, is one of the regulation length courses.
Cost: $29 - $89
12. Victoria Hills Golf Club
The Ron Garl-designed golf course at Victoria Park preserves the natural flow of the area's rolling hills and foliage while providing golfers with plenty of challenges. Victoria Hills is a blend of Florida, North Carolina and New England golf courses. Elevation changes, downhill, uphill and sidehill lies add to the challenge of each shot. Many holes play uphill and you will need to club up!
13. King and Bear
The King & Bear is the only golf course in the world that has been co-designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. This course offers a mixture of two different design styles. The King & Bear golf course gets its name from both designers. Palmer earned the nickname “The King” during his playing career, while Nicklaus adopted the “Golden Bear” moniker. The layout was selected to Golf Magazine’s 2016–2017 list of the Best Courses You Can Play in Florida.
Cost: $79 - $179
14. Kelly Plantation Golf Club
Billed as "The Crown Jewel of the Emerald Coast" you will not be disappointed. Built on the actual site of a former turpentine plantation owned by Mattie and Coleman Kelly, designers Fred Couples and Gene Bates fashioned an impressive championship golf course from the intrinsic beauty of the land with miles of waterfront, intricate bayous and towering trees. Rated 4 ½ Stars by Golf Digest.
Cost: $69 - $145
15. Old Corkscrew Golf Club
A Jack Nicklaus Signature design, Old Corkscrew has become legendary and is Southwest Florida’s #1-rated course by Golf Magazine. Eighteen holes of world-class championship golf are woven into a tapestry of mature oaks, pines, cypress trees, lakes, prairie grass and wetlands – a natural habitat for a spectacular variety of indigenous species including alligators, tortoises, raccoons and water birds.