Updated February 2024 to update booking information.
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
Curious to discover why University Park Golf Club is consistently rated as the #1 Golf Course in Southwest Florida by Golf Digest? Well, it’s no surprise.
The club, located in the heart of University Park Country Club, boasts a meticulously designed 27-hole facility by Ron Carl. The course features strategically placed water, bunkers, and trees, providing a challenging yet enjoyable adventure for golfers of all levels.
Renowned for its impeccable condition, University Park Golf Club offers some of the best-maintained grounds in the Sarasota area, making it a top choice for golf enthusiasts. The greens are particularly esteemed for their speed and true rolls, adding an extra layer of excitement to your game.
But it’s not just about the course. University Park Golf Club also houses an exceptional golf academy led by Ashley Hayden, offering top-notch training facilities. Whether you’re a seasoned player looking to refine your skills or a beginner eager to learn the game, the academy provides a supportive environment for honing your craft.
With a combination of outstanding course design, well-maintained grounds, and exceptional training facilities, it’s no wonder University Park Golf Club stands out as the best in Southwest Florida.
Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch
Nestled amidst mature forests and serene wetlands, Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch offers golfers an exceptional event designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer. This premier course in Southwest Florida is known for its challenging and undulating greens, as well as an island green par three. Located 20 miles from the coast, the course presents an added challenge with afternoon winds.
The innovative design by Arnold Palmer and the well-maintained course provides a unique and memorable golfing encounter. The beautiful surroundings create a peaceful and serene atmosphere for golfers seeking a tranquil round.
The Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch is a testament to the exceptional golfing experiences available in Sarasota, Florida. With its demanding layout and strategic shot-making requirements, this course beckons to golfers seeking a challenge. The course’s natural features and meticulous design by Arnold Palmer make it a must-visit for golf enthusiasts.
Whether you’re a local looking for a new challenge or a visitor seeking an unforgettable golfing adventure, the Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch promises to deliver a round of golf that will leave a lasting impression.
The Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes
The Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes invites golfers to experience a unique and demanding course set amidst charming surroundings in the vibrant Sarasota area.
Here’s why it’s one of the top golf courses in the Sarasota area:
- Scenic Location: Located just a short drive from various keys and downtown Sarasota, the Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes offers a stunning backdrop for a memorable golfing event.
- Challenging Course Design: Despite playing to a par of 64, this course is anything but easy. Designed by Ted McAnlis, it features a mix of short and long holes with doglegs and challenging green complexes, making it a test for golfers of all skill levels.
- Distinct Water Features: The course is known for its variety of water features and beautiful landscaping, adding an extra layer of challenge and beauty to each round.
The Palms Golf Club at Forest Lakes provides a unique and captivating public golf experience, with its remarkable variety and mix of water hazards making it one of the best golf courses in the Sarasota area.
Rolling Green Golf Club
Rolling Green Golf Club offers a demanding and inclusive golfing adventure, featuring strategic bunkers, tree-lined fairways, and a unique focus on improving short-game skills. Located in Southwest Florida, this public course is a gem designed by Donald Ross, known for his ability to create strategic and visually appealing courses.
The club’s bold par three holes make it an excellent choice for golfers looking to hone their short game. Additionally, the club provides added value by offering inclusive lunches and drinks with a green fee, ensuring a satisfying and enjoyable event for all visitors.
Rolling Green Golf Club has garnered a strong local recommendation and is a popular choice for both residents and visitors. Golfers visiting the area shouldn’t miss the opportunity to play at this exceptional course.
With its proximity to Siesta Key and the Ridge Golf Links, extending your golfing adventure to other renowned courses becomes an accessible and enjoyable possibility. Rolling Green Golf Club truly stands out as a must-visit destination for golf fans seeking a challenging yet inclusive event.
The Highlands Course at the Meadows Country Club
If you’re eager to encounter another exceptional golfing adventure in Sarasota, the Highlands Course at the Meadows Country Club invites you to discover a blend of classic design and modern amenities at a public price. Here’s what makes this course a standout choice for golf lovers:
- Country Club Experience at a Public Price: The Highlands Course offers the allure of a private golf club located at a public price, allowing golfers to enjoy top-notch facilities and a demanding course without the exclusivity of a private club.
- Challenging Layout: With narrow fairways flanked by mature pines and oak trees, the Highlands Course offers a challenging yet enjoyable round of golf. The classic design elements of the course provide a picturesque backdrop for a memorable game.
- Modern Amenities: The course features state-of-the-art GPS units in each cart, ensuring golfers have accurate yardage and course information at their fingertips. Additionally, modern practice facilities allow players to hone their skills before taking on the course’s unique challenges.
The Highlands Course at the Meadows Country Club, as one of the oldest around Sarasota, is renowned for its ability to seamlessly blend classic design features with modern amenities, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking a memorable golfing adventure.
Tatum Ridge Golf Links
Nestled a few miles east of I-75 off Fruitville Rd, Tatum Ridge Golf Links offers golfers a unique Scottish links feel combined with the stunning natural landscape of Florida wetlands. Designed by golf architect Ted McAnlis, this Stadium Course was first opened to golfers seeking a demanding yet pleasant event.
The layout features strategic bunkers, water features, and doglegs that will test your skills. With several sets of tees, it caters to golfers of all levels, providing an opportunity to enjoy a round that suits their abilities. The signature 13th hole, a tough par 5 dogleg over a large lake, is just one of the many highlights of this course.
It’s an ideal place for practice and improvement, offering a good full grass practice range and chipping area. Tatum Ridge Golf Links provides a serene and charming golfing adventure, blending natural beauty with a bold layout.
Whether you’re looking for a casual round with friends or a more competitive game, this course has something to offer for everyone.
Bent Tree Country Club
Bent Tree Country Club offers golfers a demanding and well-maintained 18-hole course known for its scenic beauty and a mix of challenging and forgiving holes. The club provides a serene and peaceful golfing experience with its pristine fairways and manicured greens.
Here’s what makes Bent Tree Country Club one of the best golf courses in and around Sarasota, Florida:
- Scenic Beauty: The course is known for its breathtaking views and well-maintained landscapes, offering a picturesque backdrop for a round of golf.
- Challenging Layout: Golfers can expect a mix of challenging and forgiving holes, catering to players of all skill levels. The course’s design ensures an enjoyable yet testing round.
- Practice Facilities: Bent Tree Country Club boasts excellent practice facilities, including putting greens and sand bunkers, allowing golfers to hone their skills before hitting the course.
Bent Tree Country Club stands out as a highly recommended golfing destination, providing a country club event at public prices. Whether you’re a local or visiting the area, this club offers an exceptional golfing adventure that’s both accessible and inclusive for all.
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.