Golfing and Florida go hand-in-hand thanks to balmy year-round temperatures, days of endless sunshine, and some of the most creative and expertly-crafted courses in the U.S. With over 1,250 golf courses in the state, it can be hard to know which one is worthy of your time. Below we’ve got four of the craftiest, cleverest, most beautifully designed courses that will inspire the Tiger Woods in all of you.
Streamsong Red, Bowling Green
Sitting roughly 50 miles southeast of Tampa, Bowling Green is a sub-3,000 resident town that packs a big punch when it comes to the game of golf. This course has a much more rugged and slightly unkempt feel to it than the others on this list while still maintaining its distinguished reputation and a solid air of dignity. It’s these characteristics coupled with the dramatic landscape that make Steamsong Red a celebrated course. This course was designed with walking golfers in mind; strolling the course not only allows for some expansive views, but it’s also the best way to truly experience the course. In fact, the walking golf philosophy is such a centric part of this course that there are months when no golf cart riding is allowed at all!
Fun Fact: Streamsong Red is actually one of three epic courses rolled into the 16,000-acres of windswept prairies, sculpted lakes and towering dunes.
Calusa Pines, Naples
The story behind the birth of this course is just as inspiring as the course itself. Gary Chensoff beat cancer against the odds and went on to develop a multi-dimensional golf course on a plot of land as flat as a pancake. With the goal in mind to make the course as unique as possible, designer Hurdzan-Fry crafted slopes and ridges from the fill of lakes that were made by blasting great holes into the ground with dynamite. In fact, they got so blast-happy on this site, they ran up a cool $1 million-dollar bill on dynamite alone! While the daring shape of the course entices golfers from all around the world, it’s the thoughtful touches like the planting of 100 mature oak trees that gives this course a sophisticated feel.
Fun Fact: Membership at this ultra-exclusive club runs around $150,000 bucks a pop!
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach
As the permanent host of the PGA-tour, the location, layout and wickedness of this course were honed to perfection to deliver thrilling games to the fans who watch and professionals who play. With a style defined by its creator as “grenade attack architecture”, this course is full of lumps, bumps, divots and carved out spaces that challenge even the world’s best players. Most notorious of all, however, is the 17th hole. Ringed in water, the island green provides a “sink-or-swim” moment of anxiety as the golfer attempts to clear the lake and sink the putt. All this might sound a little overwhelming for a novice golfer, but designer Pete Dye insists he made this course for players of all levels.
Fun Fact: The on-site Marriott Resort and Spa ensures a golf holiday doesn’t have to be all about smacking balls around the green – it’s totally okay to indulge in a spa treatment, take a dip in one of the pools, or dine in one of the resort’s seven restaurants.
Seminole, Juno Beach
Topping Golf Digest’s list of best golf courses in Florida, Seminole also earns our pick as the state’s top golf course for several reasons. There’s a lot to love about the Atlantic-coast facing course, but critics often praise it as one of the country’s most impressive examples of golf course routing. While it wasn’t designed solely to trick golfers, it’s certainly not for those just starting out; Seminole has got a few tricks up its sleeve. The relatively flat-looking green isn’t as innocent as it appears. Much of the deception lies in the angled sides of the greens that mimic an ever-so-slight saucer shape. We can’t decide if this golf course is on the players' side on not, but one thing is clear – a keen golfer won’t forget a game played Seminole.