Best public golf courses to play in Florida

Florida‘s warm, sunny climate and manicured fairways attract golfers from around the world – and some of its best golf courses are public-access venues.

The Sunshine State has more than 1,250 courses, more than any other state, and many of the most famous are open to the green-fee paying public.

TPC Sawgrass: In Ponte Vedra Beach, TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world. Host of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, Pete Dye‘s masterpiece from the early 80s famously features the challenging par-3 17th hole with its much-imitated island green. Golf’s first true ‘stadium course’ is open to the public to play. You can book 14 days in advance, while another option is to book in advance at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort.

Streamsong Resort (Red, Blue & Black courses) – This luxury resort’s accommodation options and three world renowned courses are within 90 minutes of both Tampa and Orlando. Four of golf’s most respected architects have created three superb tracks nestled in secluded sun-dunes alongside a stunning lakeside lodge and spa. Streamsong Red, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, is perhaps the resort’s standout course, while Blue by Tom Doak and Black by Gil Hanse make up a trio of courses among the world’s best. Public tee times (non-resort guests) are available with a 30 day booking window.

Bay Hill Club & Lodge – Renowned for hosting the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour, Bay Hill Club & Lodge in a suburb of Orlando is a golfer’s paradise. The course, designed by Arnie himself, is known for its pristine condition and strategic nature. Bay Hill is an ideal venue for your next Florida golf trip. If you book a stay at the lodge, you will be granted access to the club’s two courses, the main course and the nine-hole course.

World Golf Village (King & Bear and Slammer & Squire courses) – Located in the city of St. Augustine, the World Golf Village is a haven for golfers. The King & Bear course, designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, is a collaboration between two legends, while the Slammer & Squire course, named after Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen, provides an equally enjoyable round. The World Golf Village also houses the World Golf Hall of Fame. The resort & hotel partners together offer a variety of stay & play packages.

Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course) – The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor close to Tampa hosts the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship each March. There’s four courses at the resort, including this demanding layout that’s blessed with beautiful scenery, tight fairways, undulating greens, and strategically placed bunkers. The most convenient way to play the courses is to book a stay at the resort with one of the golf packages.

PGA National Resort & Spa (Champion Course) – The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach is another top-tier golf destination. Home to the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour, this course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, has gained notoriety for its infamous ‘Bear Trap’, a three-hole stretch that challenges even the most skilled golfers. The resort has four wonderful 18-hole courses in total, with The Palmer Course designed by the man himself, as well as The Fazio, and The Estates. Two more courses are being built. To play here, the resort offers 5-star accommodation ranging from traditional guestrooms to two-bedroom cottages with a host of stay & play packages.

Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa – Set along the shoreline of the Palm Coast south of Jacksonville, this resort has two award-winning golf courses, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course, and the Conservatory Course, designed by Tom Watson. Staying at the resort, which will allow you to play these courses, is the perfect chance to enjoy a taste of casual luxury designed for family vacations or holidays with friends.

Other notable public courses

Osprey Point Golf Course in Boca Raton is one of the top public golf courses in Florida, featuring 27 holes spread out in three nine-hole courses. It proudly holds the designation as an Audubon International Classic Sanctuary, which recognizes the course’s dedication to environmental stewardship. Players are likely to come across birdhouses and butterfly gardens, and they’ll need to play carefully around natural wetland areas.

Another Audubon-certified course, Plantation Preserve Golf Club close to Fort Lauderdale is a course from Robert van Hagge with a Scottish feel. It’s challenging but comes with five tee boxes. As this is a public facility, everyone can get to enjoy the county club atmosphere.

Abacoa Golf Club, in Jupiter, is one of the finest public courses in South Florida, offering stunning views with most of its well-maintained holes surrounded by water. And, for those travelling to Miami, Miami Beach Golf Club and the historic Miami Springs Golf & Country Club are well worth a visit.

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