I’ve been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time in the Sunshine State. I’ll be the first to tell you that it can be stifling hot in the summer. But, for the majority of the year, this great state is truly a golfer’s paradise. And there’s no shortage of courses to choose from.
Having played courses all over the state, I can attest that some are better than others. Below is my top ten list of courses you can play.
Streamsong Resort – Blue Course
Streamsong is a must play if you’re looking for the ultimate stay-and-play golf getaway. Built into native grasslands that used to be the site of a mining operation, the Blue Course at Streamsong is unlike anything else in Florida.
Designed by Tom Doak, the course is fairly wide open off the tee and features subtle elevation changes that can make club selection tricky.
There isn’t much rough at the Blue Course which I enjoy. It gives you plenty of options for different shots around the greens and allows you to play the ball along the ground. Should you venture too far offline however, the native grasses can make finding your ball, let alone hitting it, a difficult task.
The resort’s amenities are world class and I’d put this property at the top of the list for any Florida golf vacation.
Oak Marsh at Amelia Plantation
If you’re familiar with Pete Dye, you probably know that his designs are tough. Think TPC Sawgrass. The same can be said for the Oak Marsh Course at Amelia Plantation. Opened in 1972, the Oak Marsh Course is classic southern bayou golf.
You don’t need to be a big hitter to play this golf course as it isn’t overly long. Instead, precision both off the tee and into the green is the key to success.
As classic Dye design would dictate, 14 holes have penalty areas, and a number of greens are bulkhead designs featuring railroad ties.
The routing makes its way through live oak forests and along the edge of a salt marsh. Tranquility is the word that comes to mind when playing a round on this track.
TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course
There’s nothing quite like playing where the pros play. That’s exactly what you’ll find when you peg it at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Another Pete Dye design, this course is one you play for the experience. If you happen to play well, that’s an added bonus.
Annually ranked as one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour, this track will test every facet of your game and expose any weakness. Site lines are difficult, tee shots intimidating, and the greens small. If you happen to find dry land on the iconic island green par three 17th, you’ve earned yourself a celebratory beverage in the lavish clubhouse after your round.
Winter Park Golf Course
If you’ve read many of our golf course reviews, you know that we appreciate a good muni. That’s exactly what Winter Park Golf Course is.
Located in the heart of Winter Park, this nine-holer is a hidden gem. Even though the course was built in 1914, it underwent a wall-to-wall renovation in 2016 and the end result is amazing.
Measuring only 2,480 yards, this par 35 is tailor made for shot makers.
What I love most about winter park, just like any other muni, is the cast of characters. On a typical day, you’re liable to see everyone from Tour players, to retirees, to the janitor at the grade school across the street.
At Winter Park, you’re encouraged to come as you are. The experience here is about inclusivity and having fun.
A must play if you’re in the Winter Park area.
Crooked Cat Course at Orange National
One of the best kept secrets in Orlando is the Crooked Cat Course at Orange National.
The course has a links feel which you won’t find many other places in Florida. Ample room off the tee allows you to grip it and rip it. Be forewarned, though. The course’s large, undulating greens make for some difficult pin positions that are small targets.
Because the course is exposed, afternoon winds can come from any direction and make club selection difficult.
If you happen to play well on the front nine, don’t let your foot off the pedal on the back. One of the toughest nines in the state, the holes are long and greens tough.
The Florida Club
If you’re like me, and have an appreciation for old traditional designs, put the Florida Club at the top of your list.
Long, wide fairways are bordered by ancient oaks, whispering pines, and palmettos.
Designed by renowned architect, Dick Gray, this course will provide the best players all the test they want but is both approachable and enjoyable for even the most rank beginners.
Five sets of tees give you plenty of options to choose from and the greens are some of the best in the state.
I’ve played this wonderful track a couple times and will surely be back.
Victoria Hills Golf Club
Nestled on a stately 200 acres between Orlando and Daytona beach is Victoria Hills Golf Club. This track is one of the best values in the entire state.
Unlike many Florida courses, you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself when you tee it up at this great public track.
The fairways are lined with pines and Spanish Oaks that continue to whisper stories of years gone by.
The fairways are narrow, but the course is right in front of you, as it should be. Good shots will be rewarded, and poor shots punished.
After your round, be sure to stick around for a meal and drink at Sparrow’s Grille. The food here is mouth watering and you won’t leave hungry.
If you only have a couple hours and just want to work on your game, the practice facility at Victoria Hills is world class. A two-sided range and multiple short game areas are always well kept and not overly crowded.
Kelly Plantation Golf Club
Situated on the picturesque shoreline of Choctawatchee Bay is Kelly Plantation Golf Club.
Designed by Fred Couples and Gene Bates, this track might be the best conditioned public golf course in all of Florida.
This is a ball striker’s golf course as the tee shots are demanding. Both length and accuracy are required from the back tees. For beginning golfers however, forward tees present very few forced carries and the layout is welcoming.
I’ve played a few courses in the northwest part of the state and Kelly Plantation is by far my favorite. The staff is always welcoming, and it seems like every time I play this course, it’s in better condition than the time before.
Old Corkscrew Golf Club
There are more golf courses to choose from in Southwest Florida than I care to count. One of the local’s favorites, however, is Old Corkscrew Golf Club.
This Jack Nicklaus design measures more than 7,400 yards from the tips. The layout is classic Florida golf with pine-framed fairways, lowland water hazards, and strategically placed bunkers.
If you’re a fan of Nicklaus designs, you won’t be disappointed at Old Corkscrew.
Should your game need a tune-up, be sure to check out the Leadbetter Golf Academy.
Juliette Falls Golf Club
If you’re looking for a great round of golf at a reasonable price, Juliette Falls might be your best bet in the state.
Even though the course is largely lined by homes, it’s easy to see the land was used for the golf course first, and homes second.
Naturally rolling topography made for a great site and John Sanford certainly brough that vision to life.
The course’s design places an emphasis on fun but also has a number of challenging shots that are sure to get your attention.
With some of the most affordable green fees around, Juliette Falls is a round you won’t want to miss.
There’s a lot to see and do in the state of Florida. For golfers however, it’s like heaven on Earth. With so many great courses to choose from, it’s hard to come with a list of the best 10.
With that being said, many of the facilities mentioned above I’ve played personally, and others come highly recommended by others here at Golfer’s Authority.
While I might not recommend visiting Florida in the heat of summer, it’s a wonderful to place to escape for a golf vacation for the majority of the year.
If you find yourself in Florida and have some recommendations you think should be on this list, feel free to let us know in the comments!