Sanderson Farms Championship

The Country Club of Jackson


Places To Play

Places to Play

The best courses you can play in Florida

Florida golf gets a bad rap—it’s too flat and uninteresting, you’ve probably heard. With more than 1,450 courses (including nine-holers), sure, there are a number of tired if not monotonous layouts. The courses on this list, though, belong in a separate category.

We pulled our panelists’ scores from our most recent America’s 100 Greatest and Best in State rankings to determine the best courses you can play in Florida. We stopped this list at 30 courses but could’ve easily went to 50.

There’s a reason Florida is the most popular destination for golfers residing in northern states—and not just because it has the most golf out of any state. There’s some damn good golf—you just have to know where to look.

Scroll on to learn more about each of these courses and read reviews from our course-ranking panelists. We hope you enjoy our new, searchable course database, Places to Play.

TPC Sawgrass: Stadium
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TPC Sawgrass: Stadium
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
TPC’s stadium concept was the idea of then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman. The 1980 design was pure Pete Dye, who set out to test the world’s best golfers by mixing demands of distance with target golf. Most greens are ringed by random lumps, bumps and hollows, what Dye calls his "grenade attack architecture." His ultimate target hole is the heart-pounding sink-or-swim island green 17th, which offers no bailout, perhaps unfairly in windy Atlantic coast conditions. The 17th has spawned over a hundred imitation island greens in the past 30 years. To make the layout even more exciting during tournament play, Steve Wenzloff of PGA Tour Design Services recently remodeled several holes, most significantly the 12th, which is now a drivable par 4.
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Streamsong Resort: Red
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Streamsong Resort: Red
Bowling Green, FL
Coore and Crenshaw’s Red Course is part of a resort triple-header that gives golfers a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the differences in styles and philosophies of three of America’s hottest design firms. (Streamsong (Blue), a Tom Doak design, is ranked No. 148; Streamsong (Black), by Gil Hanse, is No. 169.) The Red was built from sand spoils created by a massive phosphate strip mine, with some piles forming dunes reaching 75 feet into the air. The Red has a wonderful mix of bump-and-run links holes and target-like water holes. Some greens are perched like those at Pinehurst, others are massive with multi-levels like those at St. Andrews. The Bermuda turf is firm and bouncy, and while the routing is sprawling, it’s easily walkable. The Red comes out on top in this survey, but the Blue is just half a point behind, the Black another half a point behind that. Things could change in the future.
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Streamsong Resort: Blue
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Streamsong Resort: Blue
Bowling Green, FL
Although congenial rivals, Tom Doak and Bill Coore actually collaborated on Streamsong’s original 36-hole routing, walking the site and mentally weaving holes around stunning mounds, lagoons, sand spits, savannahs and swamp, all elements left after a strip-mining operation. Coore then gave Doak first choice on which 18 he wanted to build, so Doak’s Blue Course includes a few holes routed by Coore. (Coore and Crenshaw’s Red, ranked No. 118, contains some holes originally envisioned by Doak.) The Blue starts a bit more dramatically, with the back tee on hole one atop a 75-foot sand dune. It has more water carries off the tee, and it’s also a bit more compact, since it sits in the center with the Red Course looping around its outside edges. The Blue definitely has the bolder set of greens, some with massive shelves and dips. The new addition of No. 169 Streamsong (Black) by Gil Hanse only adds to the spirited competition among designers. The theme song at Streamsong seems to be: “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”
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Streamsong Resort: Black Course
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Streamsong Resort: Black Course
Bowling Green, FL
Gil Hanse’s Black Course at Streamsong, Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course of 2018, sits a mile south of the resort’s Red and Blue Courses, with its own clubhouse and its own personality. Reshaped from a decades-old phosphate strip mine that lacking tall spoil mounds, Hanse provided strategic character by building a hidden punchbowl green at nine, dual putting surfaces at 13, incorporating a meandering creek on the par-5 fourth and a lagoon cove to guard the 18th green. Both the putting surfaces and the chipping areas surrounding them were grassed in MiniVerde, and today both are mowed at a single height, resulting in the biggest, most complex greens found on our national ranking. One Streamsong insider calls the Black greens “polarizing;” we call them tremendous fun.
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Trump National Doral: Blue Monster
The linchpin of the famous four-course complex previously known as Doral Golf Resort, the Blue Monster had hosted a PGA Tour event annually from 1962 to 2016. The fearsome layout has been given added bite by Hanse and Wagner by creation of new slopes and ridges on several holes and the excavation of new lakes on par-3 15 and drivable par-4 16 to add more excitement to the finish. But they wisely left the legendary 18th nearly untouched. Why mess with history?
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World Woods Golf Club: Pine Barrens
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World Woods Golf Club: Pine Barrens
Brooksville, FL
Back when Golf Digest's named the Pine Barrens Course at World Woods' America's Best New Resort Course of 1994, most panelists said the layout, carved from a sand-based pine plantation, compared favorably to Pine Valley, with similar belts of sand and vegetation lining each hole. Pine Barrens also has some canyons of sand that jut into fairways and pose risks and rewards. The Pine Barrens Course was ranked among America's 100 Greatest from 1999 until 2003.
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Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge: Challenger/Champion
86 Panelists
Open only to members and guests staying at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, the world-renowned Champion and Challenger nines make up the 18-hole Bay Hill course played by the game's best at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Charger, a third nine, offers a shorter, more open (but still challenging) experience. You'll still find Palmer's name and trademark umbrella logo on the range, where you'd find him on a daily basis.
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Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa: Conservatory Course
61 Panelists
Hammock Beach is a Golf Digest Editors' Choice award-winning resort in Florida and has two of the best public courses in Florida: The first being the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory course, which is more inland than the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean course. The Conservatory course is not your typical Florida resort course—it’s equipped with British links-style features throughout and boasts elaborate stone work, waterfalls and streams.
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Innisbrook Resort: Copperhead
97 Panelists
The Copperhead course is most famous for hosting the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship every April, but Innisbrook is home to three more championship courses—Island, North and South—with views more like the sand hills of the Carolinas than you might expect in Florida. The Copperhead course is a tough ball-striking challenge with tight, tree-lined fairways and a demanding three-hole finish—known as the Snake Pit—that often makes for dramatic finishes to the annual PGA Tour stop.
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PGA National Resort & Spa: Champion
PGA National Resort & Spa: Champion
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
1 Panelists
One of five courses at PGA National, the Champion Course hosts the Honda Classic every year. Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio for tournament play, Jack Nicklaus redesigned the course in 2014, creating the infamous three-hole stretch aptly named "The Bear Trap." Routinely one of the toughest courses on Tour, The Champion is a true ball-striking test.
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Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa: Ocean Course
89 Panelists
This scenic Jack Nicklaus-designed South Florida track has six holes that play along the Atlantic Ocean, with a challenging four-hole finishing stretch nicknamed “The Bear Claw.” The course, which hosted the 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links, is one of two at the resort and features a classic Nicklaus design: generous fairways and well-protected greens.
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Omni Amelia Island Resort: Oak Marsh
Set within vast salt marsh creeks and lined with moss-draped heritage oak trees, the Oak Marsh Golf Course is a classic Pete Dye design. Built around the same time as Dye’s renowned Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head, Oak Marsh is a challenging, but enjoyable wetland course. The layout hosted the 1988 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur.
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World Woods Golf Club: Rolling Oaks
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World Woods Golf Club: Rolling Oaks
Brooksville, FL
Like its sister course Pine Barrens, Rolling Oaks is anticipated to undergo a significant transformation with Cabot acquiring the property. As its name suggests, the Rolling Oaks Course features undulating fairways outlined by large Spanish-moss draped trees. Time will tell whether the Cabot group brings in an architect to redesign the course—but it's likely the course will undergo substantial work in the coming years.
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The Gasparilla Inn & Club
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The Gasparilla Inn & Club
Boca Grande, FL
Open to members and guests of the resort, Gasparilla Golf Club rests on the picturesque coast of Charlotte Harbor. Expect a breeze from the surrounding waters to provide a steady challenge at this well-conditioned Pete Dye signature design.
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TPC Sawgrass: Dye's Valley
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TPC Sawgrass: Dye's Valley
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Dye's Valley has hosted elite professional and amateur tournaments and is worth playing for anyone staying in and around Ponte Vedra Beach.
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Old Corkscrew Golf Club
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Old Corkscrew Golf Club
Estero, FL
Old Corkscrew, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is routed through the natural landscape of Southwest Florida (no homes!) including cypress trees, tall pines, wetlands, etc., and serves as habitat for dozens of exotic animals.
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Tiburon Golf Club: Gold
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Tiburon Golf Club: Gold
Naples, FL
Though plenty of options are sprinkled across Naples, Greg Norman's Tiburón courses at the Ritz-Carlton are on the top of most lists. The Gold course course features stacked sod wall bunkers and no conventional rough and is home to the LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship and the PGA Tour’s QBE Shootout.
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PGA Golf Club in PGA Village: Dye Course
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PGA Golf Club in PGA Village: Dye Course
Port Saint Lucie, FL
The Dye Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie is a links-style course routed through wetlands. Pine straw, coquina waste bunkers and grass bunkers capture the Florida setting, while the layouts of the holes draw strongly on British Isles roots.
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Burnt Pine Golf Club at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
After routing players through the pine forests and wetlands of the Emerald Coast, Rees Jones wows golfers on the back nine with views of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Much like the differing scenery on each nine, players will be required to hit a different type of approach shot into each green at Burnt Pine G.C. at Sandestin.
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Tiburon Golf Club: Black
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Tiburon Golf Club: Black
Naples, FL
Nestled among the Florida pines, Tiburón Black uses the natural landscape to feature undulating greens and crushed coquina waste areas.
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Lakewood National Golf Club: Piper
Lakewood National is home to two relatively new Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole courses: the Commander Course and the Piper Course. Bunkering and water hazards are prominent throughout the property, making for a typical Florida golf experience.
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Banyan Cay Resort & Golf
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Banyan Cay Resort & Golf
West Palm Beach, FL
Designed by Jack Nicklaus and John Sanford, the team responsible for Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in NYC and Naples Beach Hotel G.C., the new course at Banyan Cay replaces the old Presidents Country Club. The greens are undulating and often very quick. Surrounding the greens are large run-off areas to allow for either chipping or putting and large bunker complexes and greenside bunkers, including several U.K.-style pot bunkers with sod walls.
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Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate: International Course
Featuring two Greg Norman designed championship courses as well as a lit nine-hole par-3 track, ChampionsGate is the perfect choice for an action-packed Orlando golf experience. The challenging International course features large greens (made even bigger by a recent restoration) and numerous grassy dunes, giving the layout a links feel.
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World Golf Village: Slammer & Squire
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World Golf Village: Slammer & Squire
Saint Augustine, FL
Designed by Bobby Weed in collaboration with Sam Snead (the “Slammer”) and Gene Sarazen (the “Squire”), this Jacksonville 18-hole course is enjoyable for a variety of handicaps. As players navigate the wetlands and natural landscape, they’ll also get an excellent view of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
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Reunion Resort & Golf Club: Jack Nicklaus Course
Three stellar golf courses—designed by Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson—can be found at this full-service Orlando-area resort, making it the only destination with three courses designed by these three legends. A manageable drive to the airport makes this an easy trip to plan.  The Nicklaus Course is generally forgiving off the tee, but small, undulating greens place a premium on precise iron play. Elevated railroad-tie tees and greens, along with the occasional pot bunker, give the course character.
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Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne
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Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne, FL
Just 10 minutes from downtown Miami, Crandon Golf at Key Biscane hosted the PGA Tour Champions for 18 years. The dashing Robert von Hagge/Bruce Devlin design twirls through the interior jungle of Key Biscayne with holes that bend around various saltwater lagoons. But the real allure of the location has always remained hidden because, for environmental reasons, golf course views across the bay toward Coconut Grove and downtown Miami remain closed off behind shoreline trees.
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Jax Beach Golf Club
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Jax Beach Golf Club
Jacksonville Beach, FL
Jax Beach muny is just a few blocks from the beach. It was redone in 2018 to include more par 4s and fewer water hazards, making it the perfect stop for a casual round, regardless of skill level.
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Bay Point Golf Club
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Bay Point Golf Club
Panama City, FL
The only Jack Nicklaus design in Northwest Florida, Bay Point Golf Club takes you on a trip along St. Andrews Bay and through a marshland wildlife sanctuary.
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Shingle Creek Golf Club
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Shingle Creek Golf Club
Orlando, FL
Recently renovated by the Palmer Design Group, Shingle Creek uses knobs, swales and slopes combined with closely mown runoff areas around elevated greens to provide a challenging, par-72, 7,213 yards of engaging golf.
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Palm Beach Par-3 Golf Course
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Palm Beach Par-3 Golf Course
Palm Beach, FL
Redesigned by Raymond Floyd in 2009, the Palm Beach Par-3 Course is widely regarded as one of the most fun short courses anywhere. Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, it hosted an LPGA Pro-Am for 18 years.
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