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The 7 Florida golf trips we can't stop dreaming about

March 17, 2021

Two things were true at the end of 2020: It was a great year for golf, but a tough year for golf trips. That means in addition to all the trips planned for 2020 that got postponed a year or two, there's a whole new group of people interested in taking them.

With the PGA Tour in the midst of its annual Florida swing, it has our mind on booking our next Florida golf trip. We tasked our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR to help us plan the best places to play and stay throughout the Sunshine State. Golfbreaks says it is seeing a huge influx of Florida travelers, which is both an encouraging sign for the industry, but also reason to book your trip ASAP before tee sheets start filling up.

The largest and most populous city in Florida is home to some of its most famous and recognizable golf courses, including the No. 2 public course in the state and No. 11 public course in America.

Dom Furore / Golf Digest

Home of The Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course (above) has one of the most nerve-wracking and recognizable finishing three-hole stretches in golf. But make sure to also play Dye's Valley, located adjacent to the Stadium Course. Dye's Valley (below) has hosted many elite professional and amateur tournaments.

Dick Durrance II

Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen teamed with architect Bobby Weed at the World Golf Village to build the Slammer & Squire, a course that rewards shot-makers without disturbing the natural beauty of the surrounding wooded areas and wetlands.

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The only course in the world co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, the King & Bear combines a links-style front nine with a more traditional Florida style back nine, featuring loblolly pines, old oak trees and lots of water.

Jacksonville Beach Golf Club, a lovable muny just a few blocks from the beach, 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.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Though there are plenty of great options within an hour of Tampa, Streamsong is the only resort in the U.S. that offers three courses ranked in Golf Digest’s Second 100 Greatest, so we advocate building a trip around it if you can.

Courtesy of Laurence Lambrecht

Tumbling through rolling terrain, striking landforms, expansive lakes and stretches of open savannah, Streamsong Red, ranked 112th on Golf Digest's Second 100 Greatest courses, requires a sound strategy to conquer one dramatic Coore-Crenshaw-designed hole after the next.

Courtesy of Laurence Lambrecht

With towering sand dunes, multiple elevation changes, wild grasses and ponds, Tom Doak's Streamsong Blue is expertly fitted to the natural land.

Courtesy of Laurence Lambrecht

The newest of the three courses, Gil Hanse's Streamsong Black is a par-73 layout that offers rolls, tumbles and sand ridges reminiscent of the Australian Sand Belt—and some of the biggest greens in North America. Be sure to stop by The Gauntlet, a two-acre putting course, and The Roundabout, a seven-hole short course and practice area, for some fun before or after your round.

Courtesy of Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort

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.

Courtesy of the Saddlebrook Resort

Saddlebrook is home to a pair of Arnold Palmer-designed courses, the par-71 Palmer and and par-70 Saddlebrook. Each features rolling fairways turning through beautiful cypress, pine and palm trees.

The Theme Park Capital of the World is also home to some pretty great golf courses. Whether on a family trip or, even better, a golf-only trip, these courses are sure to be one heck of a ride.

Courtesy: Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge

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.

Reunion is the only place in the world featuring three courses designed by three of golf's greatest legends: Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Recently renovated, 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.

Unusual Central Florida elevation changes upwards of 85 feet and rolling fairways at El Campeón at Mission Inn Resort & Club offer a trip back in time on this design first laid out in 1917.

In contrast to her older brother, Las Colinas is a 1992 Gary Koch-designed inland links course with generous faiways, gentle rolling hills and large greens, giving Mission Inn complementary 18-hole layouts.

Long the host of PGA Tour and Web.com Tour Q school, Orange County National has two courses worth playing. Set among a wide-open savannah, Crooked Cat (opening photo) twists and turns in all different directions, challenging players to control their ball in the wind.

Unlike Crooked Cat, Panther Lake winds through pines and wetlands, putting the course's natural beauty front and center in its appeal.

Just a few minutes from from Shingle Creek, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Grande Lakes is a fun test at a higher price point with wide fairways, generous landing areas and sublty tilted greens designed by Greg Norman.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Aside from the well-known grandeur of Doral, Miami is sprinkled with courses perfect for a round before or after a day at the beach or a night out on the town.

The Blue Monster played host to the PGA Tour for over half a century, most recently the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The Dick Wilson design was renovated by Gil Hanse and is one of Florida's most well-known courses.

Golden Palm at Trump National Doral, like the Blue Monster, is a Gil Hanse design that requires length, strength and touch around the greens. With shaved fairway-side entrances and heavy rough on the backsides, the bunkering is reminiscent of those in the Australian countryside.

Doral's Red Tiger and Silver Fox are playable challenges for the weekend golfer.

Having hosted PGA and LPGA Tour events, the Soffer Course at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry offers a risk-reward scenario on almost every hole.

Though shorter than the Soffer Course, the Miller Course still offers trouble off the tee and around the greens. Three-time major champion Julius Boros was the course's first Director of Golf.

Just 10 minutes from downtown Miami, Crandon Golf at Key Biscane hosted the PGA Tour Champions for 18 years. Between opening and finishing par-5s, the signature seventh hole doglegs to the right, sending your ball over a shimmering lake (hopefully).

Jensen Larson

This historic Biltmore resort features a par-71 championship course originally designed by Donald Ross in 1925 that underwent an extensive renovation over the past few years.

Brian Wacker

Miami Beach Golf Club originally opened in 1923 as Bayshore Golf Course. It has undergone several renovations since, including a complete rebuild in 2002 and become highly regarded among South Florida residents.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Palm Beach

This coastal town is home to plenty of great golf, but four of the top 75 courses in Florida—as ranked by a 2015 survey by Golf Digest—sit on the property at PGA National.

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."

Named for its designer, the Palmer Course boasts playability for the average player and gives the experienced player the chance to post a score with wide fairways, tame rough and large greens.

Originally opened in 1980 and named the Haig Course after Walter Hagen, the Fazio Course similarly offers a nice resort experience that can still challenge single-digit handicappers. The Squire and Estate courses are also playable for a wider audience.

Named for its designer, Pete Dye, the Dye Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie is a links-style course routed through wetlands. Pine straw rough, coquina waste bunkers and grass bunkers capture the Florida setting, while the layouts of the holes draw strongly on British Isles roots.

Montana Pritchard/PGA of America

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.

Courtesy of Palm Beach Golf Course

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Though plenty of options are sprinkled across this west-coast Floridian city, on the top of most lists are Greg Norman's Tiburón courses at the Ritz-Carlton.

Greg Norman's Tiburón Gold course features stacked sod wall bunkers and no conventional rough and is home to the LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship (above) and the PGA Tour’s QBE Shootout.

Michael Reaves

Nestled among the Florida pines, Tiburón Black uses the natural landscape to feature undulating greens and crushed coquina waste areas.

You’ll have to stay the night at the resort of the same name to access this Rees Jones course, but you won’t mind as Naples Grande is the closest you’ll get to a Southwest Florida private-club golf experience.

Tied to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort in Estero and part of Florida Golf Coast University’s PGA’s golf-management program, the Raymond Floyd-designed Raptor Bay is well groomed and user friendly at 6,461 yards and a slope of 125 from the tips.

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.

Courtesy of Old Corkscrew

Fort Myers Country Club is a trip back in time—this Donald Ross course opened in 1917. It’s flat and you might consider on-course canals annoying water hazards, but this is an old-school golf experience.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Panama City

You might think of Panama City as a Spring Break destination, but it might be one of Florida's most sneakily budget-friendly golf destinations—including some courses that are truly must-plays.

Two things stick out about this Florida course: no visible homes and few flat lies. A Tom Fazio design, Camp Creek offers a view of the green—often a tiered one—from every tee and a tough par-3-5-4 finish.

CATTAROSSI GRACIELA

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.

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.

Home to a championship and a par-3 course, Holiday Golf Club is notable for its forgivingly wide fairways and big greens, making it a great course for a laid-back round on a vacation.

At just under 6,700 yards, this W.C. Sherman and Donald Ross course isn't too long, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in tricky greens and beautiful wildlife. Panama Country Club has hosted the Sherman Invitational Golf Tournament every year since it opened in 1927, making it the oldest continuously held amateur tournament in the Southeast.

Interested in booking one of these trips? Click here to start pricing out your trip with our friends at Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR, or call them: (+1) 843.779.7134.

Golf Digest's Ron Kaspriske contributed to this piece