Florida, with its year-round sunshine, lush landscapes, and mild winters, is a golfer’s paradise. The state is home to a myriad of golf courses that cater to every skill level and budget, making it a premier destination for golf enthusiasts. While private clubs and exclusive golf resorts often grab the headlines, Florida’s public golf courses offer equally compelling golf experiences.
Florida, often referred to as the “Golf Capital of the World,” is a popular destination for golf enthusiasts, offering a wide selection of public golf courses. These courses are open to the general public, making them accessible for both locals and tourists to enjoy. With its sunny weather and beautiful landscapes, Florida provides an ideal setting for a round of golf. In this article, we will explore the best public golf courses in Florida, as well as the factors to consider when choosing a course.
Florida offers a wide selection of top-rated public golf courses for golfers of all levels. When selecting a course, consider the location, design, conditions, amenities, and overall value to ensure you have an enjoyable golfing experience in Florida.
- Florida is home to some of the best public golf courses in the country, offering a variety of courses for golf enthusiasts of all levels.
- A “public” golf course is open to anyone and typically does not require a membership or invitation to play.
- When choosing a public golf course in Florida, consider factors such as location, course design, conditions, amenities, and overall value.
Top 5 Public Golf Courses in Florida
When it comes to golfing in Florida, there is no shortage of exceptional courses to choose from. Among the many options, five public golf courses stand out above the rest. From iconic championship courses to hidden gems, these top picks offer a unique and unforgettable golfing experience.
So, let’s tee off and explore the top five public golf courses in Florida, including the prestigious TPC Sawgrass, the renowned Bay Hill Club and Lodge, and the stunning Streamsong Resort. Get ready to add these courses to your golfing bucket list!
A full list of public courses can be found on Golf Digest.
1. TPC Sawgrass – Players Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach
Overview: Home to the iconic 17th hole with its infamous island green, TPC Sawgrass is a dream destination for many golfers. The Players Stadium Course, designed by Pete Dye, challenges players with its innovative design and strategic layout.
- The 17th hole, one of the most recognized holes in golf.
- PGA TOUR’s flagship course.
- A challenging yet fair test for golfers of all levels.
Why Play Here: Experience the thrill of playing a course that hosts the annual Players Championship. Its immaculate conditioning and thoughtful design make every round memorable.
TPC Sawgrass is a renowned public golf course in Florida, known for its iconic 17th hole, also known as the “Island Green.” Here are some steps to help you make the most of your experience at TPC Sawgrass:
- Be sure to book your tee time in advance to secure your spot.
- Arrive early to warm up at the practice facility.
- Take in the beautiful and challenging course design.
- Don’t miss your chance to take a shot at the famous 17th hole and avoid the surrounding water hazards.
- Make the most of the amenities, including the clubhouse, dining options, and pro shop.
Fun fact: Did you know that around 120,000 golf balls are retrieved from the surrounding water hazards at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass each year?
2. Bay Hill Club & Lodge – Championship Course, Orlando
Overview: While Bay Hill is a private club, staying at the lodge grants you access to its Championship Course, famously associated with Arnold Palmer.
- Hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
- A layout that rewards strategy and precision.
- Features beautiful but challenging water hazards.
Why Play Here: It’s an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of golf legends and experience a course that combines beautiful aesthetics with challenging play.
Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida is renowned as one of the top public golf courses in the state. Designed by Arnold Palmer, it offers a challenging layout and boasts beautifully maintained greens and fairways. The course is also famous for hosting the prestigious PGA Tour event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
In addition to golf, Bay Hill Club and Lodge provides exceptional amenities, including a luxurious clubhouse, fine dining options, a spa, and top-notch customer service. Fun fact: The 18th hole at Bay Hill is affectionately named “Charger” in honor of Palmer’s passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Get your golf game on and your Instagram game strong at Streamsong Resort – where the only thing more impressive than the course is the number of likes on your #golfgoals posts.
3. Streamsong Resort – Red & Blue Courses, Streamsong
Overview: Streamsong Resort boasts three critically acclaimed courses, but the Red and Blue courses are publicly accessible and offer unique, undulating fairways set amidst natural landscapes.
- Red Course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw; Blue Course by Tom Doak.
- Breathtaking vistas and elevation changes rare in Florida.
- A commitment to a true links-style experience.
Why Play Here: For those seeking a departure from the typical Florida golf course, Streamsong delivers with its rolling dunes, expansive fairways, and challenging greens.
Streamsong Resort is a renowned public golf course in Florida that offers a unique experience for golf enthusiasts. Here are some steps to make the most of your visit:
- Book a Tee Time: Ensure you secure a tee time in advance to guarantee your spot at Streamsong Resort.
- Explore the Courses: The resort boasts three distinct courses – Red, Blue, and Black. Take some time to familiarize yourself with each course’s layout and features.
- Enjoy the Scenic Beauty: Streamsong Resort is situated amidst breathtaking natural surroundings, including lakes, dunes, and rolling hills. Take in the stunning views as you play.
- Take Advantage of Amenities: The resort offers top-notch facilities, including a clubhouse, pro shop, and dining options. Make use of these amenities to enhance your experience at Streamsong Resort.
- Relax and Unwind: After a round of golf, indulge in the resort’s spa services or relax by the pool. Streamsong Resort offers various options for relaxation and rejuvenation.
By following these steps, you can make the most of your visit to Streamsong Resort and enjoy a memorable golfing experience in Florida.
PGA National Resort and Spa: where you can relax in luxury and then curse the course designer for those devilishly tricky holes.
4. PGA National Resort and Spa
PGA National Resort and Spa is renowned as one of the top public golf courses in Florida. The resort boasts five championship courses, including the world-renowned Champion Course, home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic. Its challenging holes and breathtaking scenery make it a popular destination for golf enthusiasts from all over the globe. In addition to its exceptional golf offerings, the resort also offers luxurious accommodations, a spa, and a variety of dining options.
A recent visit by my friend only confirmed the impeccable course conditions and outstanding service provided by the staff, making it a truly unforgettable experience. It’s no wonder that PGA Golf Club is considered a premier destination for golfers.
5. Innisbrook Resort
Innisbrook Resort is a highly regarded public golf course in Florida, offering a challenging and picturesque experience. When planning a visit to Innisbrook Resort, consider the following steps:
- Choose the right time to play, as the resort attracts a large number of golfers.
- Book in advance to secure a tee time, as availability can be limited.
- Explore the four championship courses: Copperhead, Island, North, and South.
- Take advantage of the fantastic practice facilities, including a driving range and short game area.
- Enjoy the resort’s amenities, such as dining options, spa services, and accommodations.
Fun Fact: Innisbrook Resort is home to the Valspar Championship, a PGA Tour event that attracts top professional golfers.
These courses are the diamonds in the rough of Florida’s public golf scene, just like that one time I accidentally hit a diamond with my golf ball.
Other Notable Public Golf Courses in Florida
While Florida is known for its exceptional golf courses, many notable public courses often fly under the radar. In this section, we will shine a spotlight on some of the best public golf courses in the state. From the challenging World Woods Golf Club to the stunning ocean views at The Breakers Ocean Course, these courses offer a variety of unique experiences for golfers of all levels.
We’ll also take a closer look at the renowned Trump National Doral, the luxurious Hammock Beach Resort, and the award-winning Streamsong Black Course.
1. World Woods Golf Club – Pine Barrens Course, Brooksville
Overview: Inspired by the Pine Valley Golf Club, the Pine Barrens Course at World Woods is a visually stunning and challenging layout set in a pine forest.
- Ranked among the top public courses in the U.S.
- Features wide fairways, expansive waste bunkers, and fast greens.
- A Tom Fazio masterpiece that offers a secluded and pure golf experience.
Why Play Here: The Pine Barrens Course is a testament to the beauty and challenge of natural, unspoiled golf landscapes. It’s a must-play for those who appreciate design excellence and strategic golf.
World Woods Golf Club is a renowned public golf course in Florida, offering a unique golfing experience. If you’re planning a visit, here are some steps to consider:
- Location and Accessibility: Situated in Brooksville, Florida, World Woods Golf Club can easily be reached from major cities and airports.
- Course Design and Layout: The club boasts two championship courses, Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks, both designed by Tom Fazio. These courses offer diverse challenges and stunning natural surroundings.
- Course Conditions and Maintenance: One of the main attractions of World Woods Golf Club is its impeccable course conditions. The fairways, greens, and bunkers are all well-maintained.
- Amenities and Facilities: The club offers exceptional amenities, including a clubhouse, practice facilities, pro shop, and dining options.
- Overall Value and Reputation: World Woods Golf Club has gained a stellar reputation for its outstanding service, value for money, and unforgettable golfing experiences.
Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a beginner, a visit to World Woods Golf Club is a must for an unforgettable golfing adventure.
2. The Breakers Ocean Course
The Breakers Ocean Course is widely regarded as one of the top public golf courses in Florida. With breathtaking ocean views and a challenging yet enjoyable layout, it’s a favorite among golfers. The course boasts strategically placed bunkers, rolling fairways, and fast greens. Golfers are consistently impressed with the impeccable course conditions and attentive maintenance.
Additionally, The Breakers Ocean Course offers exceptional amenities, including a clubhouse, practice facilities, and a professional staff. When looking for a public golf course in Florida, be sure to consider factors such as location, course design, conditions, amenities, and overall value.
Pro-tip: To secure your preferred time slot, it’s recommended to book tee times in advance at The Breakers Ocean Course.
Where you can golf like a billionaire without actually being one.
3. Trump National Doral
Trump National Doral is renowned as one of the top public golf courses in Florida. Its world-class amenities and esteemed reputation make it a highly sought-after destination for golf enthusiasts. The course’s design and layout are carefully crafted to provide a challenging yet enjoyable game for golfers of all skill levels. The course’s maintenance and conditions are meticulously maintained, ensuring a pristine playing surface. Additionally, the resort offers luxurious accommodations, fine dining options, and top-notch facilities. Overall, Trump National Doral is a popular choice for those seeking a memorable and high-quality golfing experience in Florida.
Pro-tip: Be sure to book your tee time in advance to secure your spot at this prestigious golf course.
4. Hammock Beach Resort
Hammock Beach Resort is a renowned public golf course in Florida, located in Palm Coast. It boasts two championship courses – the Ocean Course and the Conservatory Course.
The Ocean Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, offers breathtaking ocean views and challenging holes. The Conservatory Course, designed by Tom Watson, showcases unique layouts and stunning natural landscapes. With exceptional amenities such as a clubhouse and practice facilities, as well as top-notch course conditions, Hammock Beach Resort is the perfect destination for golf enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable round of golf in Florida.
This course is so challenging, even the alligators are scared to take a dip in its water hazards.
5. Streamsong Black Course
The Streamsong Black Course in Florida is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts. When planning your visit, here are the steps to consider:
- Location and Accessibility: The Streamsong Black Course is conveniently located in Polk County, Florida, making it easily accessible for visitors.
- Course Design and Layout: This course was expertly designed by renowned architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, offering a challenging and visually stunning layout.
- Course Conditions and Maintenance: The Streamsong Black Course is well-known for its impeccable conditions and meticulous maintenance, ensuring a top-notch playing experience.
- Amenities and Facilities: The course offers excellent amenities, including a luxurious clubhouse, top-rated dining options, and a well-stocked pro shop with golfing essentials.
- Overall Value and Reputation: The Streamsong Black Course has gained a stellar reputation among golfers for its exceptional quality, making it a great value for your golfing experience.
Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, Miami
Overview: Crandon Golf Key Biscayne offers a serene and picturesque golfing experience with views of the Miami skyline and Biscayne Bay.
- The only public course on the Bay.
- Features mangrove forests, saltwater lakes, and challenging holes.
- Known for its wildlife and tropical beauty.
Why Play Here: This course is a peaceful escape from the city, where nature and golf merge beautifully. It’s both a challenge for serious players and a delight for those looking to enjoy a scenic round.
West Palm Beach: Okeeheelee Golf Course
Overview: Okeeheelee Golf Course, located in the heart of West Palm Beach, offers 27 holes of championship golf. Spread over 1,702 acres of natural preserve, it provides a serene golfing environment.
- Three nine-hole courses that can be played in different 18-hole combinations.
- Features undulating fairways and well-placed bunkers.
- A certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Why Play Here: Its proximity to downtown West Palm Beach makes it an ideal spot for golfers looking for a quick round or a day-long retreat. The course caters to all skill levels, ensuring a rewarding experience for every golfer.
Palm Beach International Airport: Lake Worth Golf Club
Overview: Just a short drive from Palm Beach International Airport, Lake Worth Golf Club boasts a historical course that runs along the Intracoastal Waterway, offering stunning views and breezes from the Atlantic Ocean.
- A par-70 course that stretches over 6,100 yards.
- Known for its casual feel and scenic beauty.
- Water hazards and breezy conditions add to the challenge.
Why Play Here: Its convenient location makes it perfect for travelers looking to squeeze in a round upon arrival or before departure. The course’s scenic layout ensures a memorable playing experience.
Palm Beach Gardens: Sandhill Crane Golf Club
Overview: Situated in Palm Beach Gardens, Sandhill Crane Golf Club stands out for its remarkable natural landscapes, including preserved wetlands and natural vegetation.
- Offers stunning vistas with several holes adjacent to natural preserves.
- Features challenging elevation changes and rolling fairways.
- The only course in Florida with a full-length standalone par-3 course.
Why Play Here: For those seeking a blend of challenge and beauty, Sandhill Crane offers an exceptional golfing experience amidst the backdrop of Florida’s natural wonders.
North Palm Beach: North Palm Beach Country Club
Overview: The North Palm Beach Country Club, redesigned by Jack Nicklaus, is a standout public course offering a challenging yet enjoyable round for golfers of all levels.
- A links-style course with rolling terrain and a breezy, open layout.
- Features TifEagle greens and Celebration Bermuda fairways.
- Spectacular views of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Why Play Here: Its design by golf legend Jack Nicklaus and its status as one of the few municipal courses he has designed make it a must-play for enthusiasts seeking a premium golfing experience.
Palm Beach County: Osprey Point Golf Course
Overview: Osprey Point Golf Course, nestled in the western part of Palm Beach County, is renowned for its environmental consciousness and superb playing conditions.
- Three nine-hole courses featuring Platinum Paspalum grass.
- Certified as an Audubon International Classic Sanctuary.
- Known for its playability and scenic beauty.
Why Play Here: Osprey Point is a testament to eco-friendly golf course design, offering players a sustainable yet challenging round. It’s ideal for those who appreciate both the sport and environmental preservation.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Public Golf Course in Florida
Florida is home to some of the best public golf courses in the country, making it a popular destination for golf enthusiasts. However, with so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide on the perfect course for your next round. In this section, we will discuss the key factors to consider when selecting a public golf course in Florida. From location and accessibility to course design and amenities, we will cover everything you need to know to make an informed decision and have a memorable golfing experience.
1. Location and Accessibility
Location and accessibility are crucial factors to consider when choosing a public golf course in Florida. To make an informed decision, follow these steps:
- Research the location of the golf courses you are interested in. Take into account factors such as proximity to your accommodation, travel time, and ease of access.
- Check if the golf course is easily accessible from major highways or airports, especially if you are visiting from out of town.
- Consider the surrounding areas. Look for nearby amenities like hotels, restaurants, and entertainment options to enhance your golfing experience.
- Evaluate the parking facilities at the golf course. Make sure that there is ample parking space available for you and your fellow golfers.
- Take into account any specific accessibility needs you may have. If you require wheelchair access or other accommodations, confirm that the golf course can accommodate your requirements.
These golf courses are so beautifully designed, even non-golfers would consider picking up a club…or just taking a scenic stroll with a drink in hand.
2. Course Design and Layout
The design and layout of a golf course play a crucial role in the overall experience for golfers. When choosing a public golf course in Florida, consider the following factors:
- Course Length: Determine if the course offers a variety of hole distances to accommodate players of different skill levels.
- Course Difficulty: Assess the course’s level of challenge, including the presence of hazards, bunkers, and water features.
- Course Aesthetics: Look for visually appealing features like well-maintained fairways, manicured greens, and scenic views.
- Course Variety: Consider if the course offers a mix of hole types, such as par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s, to provide a diverse playing experience.
- Course Flow: Evaluate how the holes are arranged and ensure a logical and seamless progression throughout the course.
3. Course Conditions and Maintenance
Maintaining optimal course conditions is crucial for a great golfing experience. When evaluating course conditions and maintenance, consider the following steps:
For the best public golf courses in Florida, visit this reputable source.
- Inspect the fairways and greens for signs of damage or disease.
- Observe the bunkers to ensure proper sand consistency and drainage.
- Evaluate the overall turf quality and consistency.
- Check the irrigation system for adequate coverage and efficient water usage.
- Assess the level of cleanliness and upkeep of the clubhouse and facilities.
To find the best public golf courses in Florida with excellent course conditions and maintenance, consider TPC Sawgrass, Bay Hill Club and Lodge, and Streamsong Resort. These courses prioritize maintaining pristine conditions for an exceptional golfing experience.
4. Amenities and Facilities
Public golf courses in Florida offer a variety of amenities and facilities to enhance players’ experiences. These include:
- Clubhouse: A central hub for socializing, dining, and relaxation.
- Pro Shop: Offering a wide selection of golf equipment, clothing, and accessories.
- Practice Facilities: Ranging from driving ranges and putting greens to chipping areas and practice bunkers.
- Dining Options: Restaurants, cafes, and bars to enjoy meals or refreshments before or after a round.
- Locker Rooms: Providing a convenient space for changing and storing personal belongings.
- Event Spaces: Ideal for hosting tournaments, weddings, or corporate events.
When choosing a public golf course, it is important to consider the quality and variety of amenities and facilities available. Some suggestions for courses with exceptional amenities and facilities include TPC Sawgrass, Bay Hill Club and Lodge, and Streamsong Resort.
5. Overall Value and Reputation
When selecting a public golf course in Florida, it is crucial to take into account the overall value and reputation. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Location and Accessibility: Choose a course that is conveniently situated and easily accessible.
- Course Design and Layout: Seek out a course that provides a challenging yet enjoyable layout with well-maintained fairways and greens.
- Course Conditions and Maintenance: Consider the upkeep of the course, including the condition of the grass, bunkers, and overall cleanliness.
- Amenities and Facilities: Evaluate the availability of amenities such as a clubhouse, practice areas, and dining options.
- Overall Value and Reputation: Conduct research on reviews and ratings to assess the course’s reputation and determine if it offers a satisfactory experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best public golf courses in Florida according to Golfweek’s 2023 rankings?
According to Golfweek’s 2023 rankings, the top three best public golf courses in Florida are TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium), Streamsong (Red course), and Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
Which courses made it to FloridaGolfer.com’s annual list of the top golf courses in Florida?
FloridaGolfer.com’s annual list of the top golf courses in Florida includes a total of 36 courses, with Streamsong Resort’s four courses taking the top spots.
What is the top-ranked course in Florida on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses?
The top-ranked course in Florida on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses is TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium).
Are there any private courses that allow public play in Florida?
Yes, there are a few private courses in Florida that allow public play, such as Trump National Doral Miami (Blue Monster) and Hammock Beach Resort (Ocean).
What is the Golden Palm course at Trump National Doral Miami known for?
The Golden Palm course at Trump National Doral Miami is known for its challenging layout and signature par-4 eighth hole, which features a circular pond in the middle of the fairway.
What is the overall rating system used by Golfweek’s course-ratings panel to rank the best public golf courses in Florida?
Golfweek’s course-ratings panel uses 10 criteria, including design, conditioning, strategy, memorability, and aesthetics, to provide an overall rating for each course.