As I continue to churn out these guides as quickly as I can, I keep getting requests to write yet another one about a specific location in Florida. Having spent ample time in the Sunshine State, I thought I knew quite a bit about the golf. Boy, was I wrong?
I’ve spent some time in Sarasota, but only played golf once. Thankfully, you guys have plenty to say about all the public golf that’s available in this fine community. It’s at your request and because of your input that I’ve compiled a list of the best public courses to be had here.
University Park Golf Club
One of the newer courses in the Sarasota area is University Park Golf Club. The course was rated as the “#1 Golf Course in Southwest Florida” by Golf Digest.
This 27-hole facility was designed by Ron Carl and boasts plenty of water, bunkers, and trees that demand your best from tee to green. Target golf in its truest sense.
What both members and the public love most about University Park is its outstanding condition. Every month of the year, this place is plush from wall to wall.
Even though this is one of the more expensive rounds in the Sarasota area, it’s not money you’ll regret spending on the game you love.
Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch
Legacy Golf Club was designed by the late, great Arnold Palmer. By now you know he’s my favorite course designer of all-time. For that reason alone, you know I’m putting this track on my bucket list.
Touted as one of the premier courses in Southwest Florida, the layout meanders through mature forests of tall pines and native oaks, and substantial wetlands that are teeming with wildlife.
Additionally, you’ll find an island green par three, 100 white sand bunkers, and undulating greens that will test even the best putters.
Seeing as this course is only 20 miles from the coast, you can count on afternoon winds.
Challenging, fun to play, and a complete experience, Legacy Golf Club is sure to meet your every expectation.
The Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes
One of the things everyone seems to love about The Palms is its location. It’s just a short drive from Bird Key, Siesta Key, Lido Key, and downtown Sarasota.
Variety, distinct water features, and beautiful landscaping are the hallmarks of this property.
Even though this track only plays to a par of 64, it oozes with character. A mix of short and long holes, doglegs in both directions, and challenging green complexes make it anything but a pushover.
If you’re a player that likes variety, and is looking for a round you won’t soon forget, the Palms Club at Forest Lakes is calling your name.
Rolling Green Golf Club
Rolling Green Golf Club is the epitome of Suncoast public golf.
Plenty of lakes, strategic bunkers, and tree lined fairways make golfers think their way around this track.
Perhaps the most challenging holes at Rolling Green are the four par threes. They’re known for being some of the most challenging in all of Florida. Play these holes in 12 strokes or less, and you’ve earned every right to brag to your buddies.
One of the things locals also love about this course is the inclusive lunch and drink that’s included with your modest green fee. The choices are scrumptious and won’t leave you feeling hungry.
From everything I hear, Rolling Green has a lot going for it. Be sure to check it out for yourself.
The Highlands Course at the Meadows Country Club
If you’re looking for a country club experience at a public price, you’ll be treated to an exceptional round of golf at the Highlands Course at the Meadows Country Club.
Quality ball striking is the name of the game at this course. Even though the greens are generous, the fairways are narrow and lined by mature pines and stately oak trees. This is classic Florida golf.
Just because the course renders classic design features, the amenities are anything but dated. When you play, take full advantage of state-of-the-art GPS units in each cart, modern practice facilities, and the latest and greatest in instructional technology and methods.
A complete experience that blends old and new seamlessly.
Tatum Ridge Golf Links
Designed by Ted McAnlis, Tatum Ridge is a favorite track for both better players and seniors. If you’re looking to test your game, you’ve come to the right place.
A rarity in Florida, this track is a Scottish-style links design. The fairways are generous, and the option exists to run the ball onto the green. Be careful though, sneaky bunkers and plenty of hazards await.
The wind is also prone to come up in the afternoon. This makes the course that much more challenging and places a premium on hitting shots solid and choosing the right club.
A round unlike any other in Sarasota, everyone speaks highly of Tatum Ridge.
Bent Tree Country Club
In the summer of 2015, Bent Tree underwent a substantial renovation. Since then, golfers have had nothing but glowing reviews. Notable improvements include excellent bunker conditions, and pure TifEagle Bermuda greens.
Even with the improvements, Bent Tree remains everything that speaks to quintessential Florida golf. That means tree lined fairways, plenty of water hazards, a tremendous variety of both short and long holes.
From all the way back, this course is everything you want. However, plenty of additional tee options make this track playable for everyone.
It sounds like regulars have plenty of reasons to be excited about Bent Tree. You should too.
Serenoa Golf Club
Mark Alden was the one chosen to re-design Serenoa Golf Club. His vision was to create a golf course unlike anything else in Sarasota. That’s exactly what he proceeded to do.
Serenoa Golf Club is designed with the land, not around it. Natural wetlands are prominent and come into play on every hole.
The course has added elements of length without increasing actual yardage as well. That means course management is a must.
From what our readers tell me, there’s no mistaking the fact that this course is a stern test. That said, it’s more than fair and can be played well by golfers of all levels.
Misty Creek Country Club
Misty Creek Country Club has a distinction that belongs to no other course in Southwest Florida. It sits inside a wildlife preserve. If you fancy nature along with your golf, this place gives you the best of both worlds.
Even though the fairways at Misty Creek are heavily lined by trees, spectacular views abound.
The layout features a distinctive variety of holes that at times reward length, and at others, precision.
Green complexes are notoriously sloped so make sure you do everything you can to leave yourself uphill putts.
Memorable and different in the same breath, Misty Creek is a great addition to any Sarasota golf vacation.
Rosedale Golf and Country Club
Locals say that Rosedale is arguably the best conditioned golf course in Sarasota. I don’t know about you, but that certainly piques my interest.
The layout is challenging in that it asks you to execute a wide variety of shots. You’ll have plenty of opportunity for risk and reward too. Choose wisely.
Rosedale’s beauty is unmatched as well. The course is lined with ancient oaks with Spanish moss draping from their branches.
Some six sets of tees allow this course to be enjoyed by just about anyone.
Another complete experience from beginning to end, I hear nothing but good things about this facility.
Before I wrote this article, I had it in my head that I was a bona fide authority on Florida golf. What an idiot I turned out to be.
The more I continue to learn from our readers about golf in this state, the more I realize how little I knew. Thankfully, I’m becoming more knowledgeable with the more insight you guys share.
As always, many thanks for your input about golf in Sarasota. I know there are courses I’ve missed so please, let me know your thoughts down below in the comments.