When the cold winter chill descends upon the northern U.S., many warmth-seeking golfers are ready to fly south. Winter snowbirding in the Sunshine State usually translates into warm days filled with beachy visits and amazing golf. Whether you are headed to the Palm Beaches, Miami, Orlando, Naples, or anywhere in between, there are amazing golf courses for you to show off your swing and swagger. These Florida golf courses are not only accessible; they are legendary. We have included a few private courses that offer their guests stay-and-play packages making these exclusive golf enclaves available to the general public.
Prices for a round of golf vary with the day of the week, time of day, and season of the year.
We presented amazing courses with a range of prices based on greens and cart fees. The cost of scoring does not include club rentals.
$: $75 or less$$: $75 to $150$$$: $150 to $250$$$$: $250 and up Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own. The courses below are listed in no particular order.
Sandi Barrett 1. TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach Every golfer’s dream is to softly land a ball on the 17th hole island green at TPC Sawgrass. There are no elevation changes on this hole, just one small, challenging green surrounded entirely by water. One of the best golf courses on Florida’s east coast, TPC Sawgrass is home to the top-rated Players Stadium Course and the Dyes Valley Course.
When you have finished tackling one of these two amazing courses, enjoy a libation at the Nineteen at TPC Sawgrass where you can review your play while enjoying the great view. If you don’t have time for a round, enjoy a lunch on the patio and dream of playing another day.
Cost: $$$ and up
Pro Tip: You can take a free tour of the 17th hole with a club guide. It is a golfer’s fantasy to drive tee to island green on this hole and you can live vicariously through your tour guide’s experiences.
Michael Burton 2. Riverwood Golf Club, Port Charlotte If you find your getaway takes you to the southwest corner of Florida, the Riverwood Golf Club should be on your must-play list. Many holes at Riverwood will challenge your ability to hit it straight since a fair amount of fairways are hemmed in on the right or left by a ribbon of ball-stealing water. The abundance of strategically placed traps adds a required measure of accuracy to your chip shots.
The par 5, 551-yard hole 17 is a monster with a daunting green cradled in dense tree growth. Marking a par on this hole is truly a feather in any golfer’s cap.
Cost: $$ and up
Pro Tip: Lunch and bar service are available for guest golfers. Dinner service is for members only.
ESB Basic / Shutterstock.com 3. Lakewood National Golf Club, Lakewood Ranch Located in west central Florida, Lakewood National Golf Club is home to the Commander Course and the Piper Course. Both are beautiful courses that weave through a luxurious golf community. The 36-hole course was designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer and highlights the beautiful natural Florida environment.
As you navigate this challenging course, you can explore its hidden intricacies and your path to the flag. The 7,291-yard-long Piper Course gently persuades you to give it your all. Every swing, every chip, every putt brings you closer to that elusive perfect round.
Cost: $$ and up
Pro Tip: If you are in the market for life in a beautiful golf enclave, purchasing a home on Lakewood National in the Lakewood Ranch community may be a perfect retirement location or snowbird retreat.
4. Streamsong Resort, Bowling Green Located in the heart of central Florida, Streamsong Resort has three courses, Streamsong Red, Streamsong Blue, and Streamsong Black. Whatever course you choose to play, you will love working on your game at this stunning resort.
The Streamsong Red Course designed by golf icons Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw consistently ranks as one of the best golf courses in Florida. The Red Course meanders through the natural local habitat creating thought-provoking shots, challenging golfers to play a single-ball game. The 16th hole par 3 requires a perfect over-the-water shot to land on the small green; this may be the hole where you lose one or more golf balls. Gentle undulations, wide open views, copious sandtraps, and difficult roughs make this course a winner and is a dream golf destination.
Cost: $$ and up
Pro Tip: Streamsong offers a customizable stay-and-play golf package that is sure to satisfy even the most accomplished golfer.
D-VISIONS / Shutterstock.com 5. Trump National Doral Miami, Doral The luxurious Trump National Doral Miami is home to four gorgeous golf courses, most notably the Blue Monster Course. The 7,590-yard-long course is peppered with deep bunkers that hamper your approach shots and undulating greens that challenge your line to the cup.
The other three exceptional plays are the Red Tiger Course, Silver Fox Course, and Golden Palm Course. Known for its beautiful landscaping, Doral is one of those clubs every golfer wants to tackle. Following in the PGA Champion’s footsteps of multi-PGA Tour winners Woods, Nicklaus, and Norman, you can be sure a round at Doral will be something you will remember for a lifetime.
Pro Tip: There is a mandatory Forecaddie fee required to play.
6. World Woods Golf Club, Brooksville Designed by Tom Fazio, World Woods Golf Club is home to two beautiful courses, Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks. The Pine Barrens course is perfect for the golfer who is not a fan of water. Only a few holes are hampered by a water hazard on this course carved from a dense pine forest. However, other golf challenges await the unsuspecting World Woods golfer.
Natural beauty gives way to tricky bunkers, undulating greens, and tree-lined fairways. You will love the layout and the play on both of these top-ranked courses.
Cost: $ and up
Pro Tip: The club also offers a Fazio-designed Short Course. A 9-hole par 3 and 4, executive-style course for a quick round in the beautiful Florida sunshine.
Sandi Barrett 7. PGA National Resort, Palm Beach Gardens PGA National Resort courses include The Champion, The Palmer, The Fazio, The Estate, The Match, and The Staple.
Home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, The Champion course underwent a redesign by Jack Nicklaus and is now home to The Bear Trap, the legendary 15th, 16th, and 17th holes where the water and wind combine to create havoc on the unsuspecting golfer. Precision shots are the name of the game when playing The Champion course in general and The Bear Trap specifically.
This is one of those courses that looks like you could tackle it when you watch the match on TV. It is oh so different when you are going tee to green in person.
Pro Tip: Playing PGA National’s luxury resort is open to guests in a variety of stay-and-play vacation packages, perfect for your next golfcation.
Sandi Barrett 8. Turnberry Isle Country Club, Aventura The luxurious Turnberry Isle Country Club offers two courses, the Miller Course and the Stoffer Course. A world away from the hustle of South Beach, yet accessible for Miami visitors, the courses are a welcome oasis of green space. Wide open fairways disguise the challenging holes that require shot precision and thoughtful approaches.
You can hone your game and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna of Florida’s east coast at Turnberry. You will love the openness of the courses.
Pro Tip: Turnberry Isle Country Club is private, but you can play the course with a stay-and-play package at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa.
9. Innisbrook Golf Resort, Palm Harbor Innisbrook Golf Resort is home to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. The outstanding Copperhead Course is joined with three sister courses: North Course, South Course, and Island Course. Featuring typically Florida Gulf Coast terrain, you will love the gorgeous scenery and welcome the challenging field of play.
Each course presents its own unique style, but all four are a match for golfers who love to play a precision game. With four challenging courses, you can golf a new course each day when you visit for a getaway.
Pro Tip: Innisbrook Golf Resort is a stay-and-play resort perfect for your next golf getaway. Grab your favorite golfing buddies and head down to the Tampa Bay area for some amazing golf and fun in the sun.
Little Havana (Photo Credit: Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com) The 19th Hole Florida is synonymous with golf. Whether you visit for a quick golf-focused vacation, or you simply want to get in a round or two during your stay, you will love the expertly designed courses across the Sunshine State. When you are in the Palm Beach area, we offer an area golf planning guide to get your round started. If Miami is your vacation destination, be sure to check out Little Havana and our authentic Cuban cuisine recommendations.
You don’t have to belong to an expensive club to play amazing golf in Florida. There are fabulous designer courses open to the public just waiting for you to grab your sticks and play a round.