Florida: Golf Capital of America
With more courses than any other state, Florida golf vacations are a natural. You can golf Florida in virtually every corner of the state. The most Florida golf courses are concentrated around Fort Myers, Orlando, and Destin. Even Key West has an 18-hole course.
Florida is home to the World Golf Hall of Fame, located at the World Golf Village, between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The hall dedicates over 32,000 square feet to exhibits on both the historical game and modern game. Member memorabilia are housed within the Hall of Fame. Other displays honor Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan’s historic 1953 season and Annika Sorenstam's week on the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra, and the PGA Tour comes to play at the likes of Miami's Doral Golf Resort and Spa, Orlando's Bay Hill Lodge or the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass. The Ladies Professional Golf Association is headquartered in Daytona Beach. The LPGA and the Senior Tour also play multiple events at Palm Beach, Naples and Tampa. The FUNAI Classic championship in Orlando features golf's greatest pros.
Florida is a great place to hone your swing. David Ledbetter has teaching facilities in Orlando and Naples, Fred Griffin is in charge of the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, and Jimmy Ballard's school is at the Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo. Other golf schools include the Innisbrook Golf Institute at the Westin Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs and the Amelia Island Plantation Golf School.
Best Course of Action
Florida features some of the world’s finest private golf clubs, including the top-ten rated Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach. This 1929 Donald Ross course has benefited from recent bunkering and turf upgrades. Other top-rated private courses include the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and Tom Fazio’s Quarry Course at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto.
But the public courses in Florida also frequently make the top ten lists. Top among these is Tournament Players Club (TPC) at Sawgrass’s famed Stadium Course, with its tricky island of a 17th hole. Current planned improvements include a $26 million renovation by Pete Dye to improve greens and year-round drainage, and add a new Mediterranean revival-style clubhouse.
Other top public courses include the Pine Barrens at World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville. The club’s practice facility range was recently reported in Sports Illustrated to be the best in the country. In 1976, Arnold Palmer purchased the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, and it has been the winter home of the Palmer family ever since. Opened in late 2000, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Hammock Golf Coast at Palm Coast is said to be the first authentic seaside links built in Florida since the 1920s. And you can always golf Orlando at Disney's Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses.
Four championship courses make the Miami’s Doral Golf Resort and Spa one of the best Florida golfing destinations. One course, the legendary Blue Monster, is the site of the annual Doral-Ryder Open. The beautiful, rolling, 18-hole golf course designed by Donald Ross and located at the majestic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables is open to the public and is a favorite of Donald Trump.