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When you think of golf courses in Florida, do flat, uninspiring, and boring water hazards come to mind? Well, the Sunshine State does have its share of those. But unfortunately, too many golf courses in Florida seem to have been cut from the same cloth and follow the same template.
If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, we’ve got 25 of the best golf courses in Florida, curated by a top player. Chosen for superior course design, location, or history, they each break the typical stereotype for inclusion in this list of best golf courses in Florida.
1. Trump Doral – Miami Suburbs
Trump Doral has four courses, the most famous of which is the Blue Monster. It hosted PGA Tour events for 55 years and has undergone a recent renovation by Gil Hanse. Though it might not seem like it at first glance, only the best golfers dare challenge this 7600-yard beast.
You’ll finish your challenging round on the 475-yard 18th, arguably the most demanding hole.
2. Black Diamond Ranch – Lecanto
This track is not like other typical Florida golf courses. At Black Diamond Ranch, you must leave behind the distinctive Florida features, like a flat layout and houses. Instead, the Quarry course has stunning views and features enormous cliffs and elevation changes. Be on the lookout for holes 13-17, as they all feature canyon walls.
3. PGA National Championship Course – Palm Beach Gardens
Famous for hosting the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the Championship Course at PGA National has one of the most challenging three-hole stretches in the United States– the Bear Trap. Named after the course’s legendary designer, Jack Nicklaus, these three holes (15-17) will test any golfer’s shot-making. Escape out of these three with pars, and you’ll likely have a great round at one of the Tour’s most challenging layouts.
4. Bears Club – Jupiter
Bears Club is home to many PGA Tour pros just north of West Palm Beach. It is notoriously tough to get on the course, so you’ll have to know a member. If you can play Bears, you’ll notice why Tour pros love it so much: it is a tour-style golf course that will penalize you badly if you miss the wrong spots but provide you with lots of scoring opportunities.
5. World Golf Hall of Fame’s King and Bear – St. Augustine
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are two of the greatest golfers ever– they have 25 majors combined. What is not as commonly known is that they are also some of the greatest golf course architects of all time. King and Bear at the World Golf Hall of Fame is their only collaboration, where forced carries, water hazards, and demanding par 3s challenge players. After the round, visit the World Golf Hall of Fame exhibit!
6. Innisbrook Golf Resort’s Copperhead Course – Tampa Bay
Home to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, the Copperhead Course is one of the tightest courses you can imagine. The Snake Pit– the finalizing three-hole stretch from holes 16-18– is one of the most brutal three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour. As you walk up the hill towards 18 green, know that you are about to encounter a series of holes that is hard even on the best golfers in the world.
7. Seminole Golf Club – North Palm Beach
Perhaps the most exclusive Club in Florida, Seminole, is where Ben Hogan would practice for months in preparation for the Masters Golf Tournament. Playing the course is complex, and there are 0 houses in one of Florida’s most lucrative real estate areas. It recently hosted the Walker Cup, where it got TV coverage for only the second time in its history. It’s arguably the best golf course in Florida, and playing it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Seminole might be Donald Ross’s most incredible creation and has never left the top 20 of Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
8. TPC Sawgrass- Stadium Course – Ponte Vedra Beach
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass hosts the Players’ Championship, the PGA Tour’s most lucrative non-major event. If you follow the Tour, you know about the electric final three holes, highlighted by the par-three 17th. The penultimate hole on this course has an island green and has seen the likes of Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, and Justin Thomas win because of this hole, and many more lose because of it.
9. Disney Magnolia Course – Lake Buena Vista
Welcome to Disney World’s longest golf course in Orlando. The Magnolia Course features a tour-style layout that hosted a PGA Tour event up to 2012. The most memorable hole on the course is the par-three 6th, which has a deep Mickey Mouse-shaped bunker guarding the front of the green. If you get up and down from one of Mickey’s ears or head, it’ll likely be one of the most fun sand shots you’ll ever hit. Closed for upgrades and renovations, the course will be even better when it re-opens in late 2022.
10. Lake Nona Golf and Country Club – Orlando
Home to many European and International Tour pros making their residence in Orlando, Lake Nona is about as pure as it gets. The course layout winds around three lakes (one of which is Lake Nona), with water hazards adorning most holes while making them much more difficult. Many believe Lake Nona’s best spots are the last six, including 15, a mid-length par five that wraps around a lake. With two good shots, you are looking at birdie; one miss, however, and a sure bogey awaits.
11. The Biltmore – Coral Gables
Located on the outskirts of Miami, the Biltmore golf course is a fantastic 18-hole track that accompanies one of Florida’s most opulent and historic hotels. The Biltmore hosts the Junior Orange Bowl yearly, one of the world’s strongest junior tournaments. The 1st hole is one of the most fun on the property, as it requires a massive slice for right-handed players to reach the par 5 in two.
12. Streamsong Red – Bowling Green
The only course by legendary duo Coore and Crenshaw, Streamsong Red, is perennially within America’s top 20 golf courses you can play. While the fairways are wide, you must be on the right side of the short grass to attack pins. The architects also provided some classic blueprint holes, like the Biarritz 16th. If you can play Streamsong Red, enjoy the ride, as Coore and Crenshaw never disappoint.
13. The Concession Golf Club – Bradenton
Named after Jack Nicklaus’s simple but legendary gesture in conceding a putt to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup (thus leading to a tie), The Concession is an ultra-private club that came into the spotlight for hosting a World Golf Championships event in 2021, won by Collin Morikawa.
14. Orange County National – Winter Garden
While its 36 holes of championship golf are pristine, Orange County National’s practice facility is what makes it unique. It boasts the largest practice area in the country, equipped with a 360-degree practice range. As for the courses, both deserve to make the list of best golf courses in Florida. Crooked Cat is a links-style layout in Central Florida, with plenty of room off the tee. However, this course will challenge players with long holes and sloped green complexes.
15. Isleworth Golf and Country Club – Orlando
Isleworth has been home to many Tour pros, like Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods. The course extends to 7600 yards from the tips and is simply immaculate. The Club has a deep rivalry with Lake Nona, and professional members from either Club would play the Tavistock Cup to determine the World Golf and Country Club Champion. If you can play Isleworth, enjoy the excellent conditions and layout of the championship course.
16. LPGA International – Daytona Beach
LPGA International is the home of the LPGA Tour, having hosted many LPGA Tour Championships and now hosting the final stage of the circuit’s qualifying school. The facility has two 18-hole layouts, the Jones and Hills Courses. If you’re looking for a more forgiving course with wider fairways, go for the Jones. However, the Hills course will challenge your game more with faster greens and more character.
17. Jupiter Hills Club – Jupiter
The Hills Course at Jupiter Hills makes you forget where you are. It is at a high point in Jupiter, with some parts of the course reaching up to 100 feet above sea level. It is Tom Fazio’s all-time favorite course, set on a truly unique piece of land with many elevation changes. It’s rare for a Florida golf course to provide views of the horizon for miles and miles, but Jupiter Hills’ elevation does just that.
18. Medalist – Hobe Sound
The Medalist is a hot spot for PGA Tour pros, attracting players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas. Designed by Greg Norman and Pete Dye in 1995, the Club has always been open to touring professionals using its facilities. The “Tiger Tees” bring the course to 7600 yards and a slope of 155, the highest possible rating. It’s a golf course for tour pros: long and complex.
19. Floridian National – Palm City
Like Medalist, the Floridian is a private course to which many tour pros belong. It has Augusta National-style bunkering, with steep faces covered by pristine white sand. When playing the track, pay close attention to the finishing holes. The 18th hole is the most memorable in the course and one of the best in the state. A golf drive must navigate between the St. Lucie River on the left and bunkers on the right.
20. The Dye Preserve – Jupiter
The Dye Preserve is one of the most exclusive clubs in South Florida. Named after Pete Dye, the course’s legendary architect, Dye Preserve is pure and complicated. In particular, the 17th hole is one of the most beautiful par 3s in Southern Florida, measuring 240 yards from the back tees as golfers must contend with a lake that runs all along the right side of the hole.
21. Bay Hill Golf Club – Orlando Suburbs
Designed by the great late Arnold Palmer, Bay Hill GC hosts one of the premier events on the PGA Tour, the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It is also the site of Bryson DeChambeau’s famous attempts to drive the 6th green, a par five that wraps around a lake. When you get to that hole, I invite you to try and go for the green, just like him!
22. McArthur Golf Club – Hobe Sound
McArthur Golf Club is, first and foremost, a golf club. No houses line the property, and the clubhouse is just that. For golf purists, it is the place to be. As in many of the courses on this list, the finishing holes save the best for last. The 18th is lined with water left and a waste area right and requires two accurate shots for a look at a birdie.
23. Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter
Many argue this course is the best in Jupiter. The Club is a Jack Nicklaus signature design, with some beautifully built par 3s. The 11th is a mid-to short-iron that plays to an island green, while the 14th green is angled from right to left and features a redan-like putting surface, allowing golfers to feed their shots into the green. Surrounded by some of the best golf clubs in Jupiter, Trump National holds its own.
24. Naples National – Naples
One of the few courses on this list located on Florida’s West Coast, this championship course hosts the Terra Cotta Invitational annually, one of amateur golf’s elite events. Many people respect Naples National because of its striking waste areas and perfectly manicured tee boxes, fairways, and greens. As the finest course in all of Naples, this Club rightfully deserves its place on this list.
25. Calusa Pines Golf Club – Naples
We finish our 25 courses with our second consecutive Naples course. Designed by the same architects that designed Naples National, Calusa Pines is known for bold bunkering, elevated greens, and rolling fairways. The golf course features two drivable par 4s and various short par 5s, but don’t be fooled, as any missed golf green will likely lead to a bogey.
The Best Golf Courses in Florida
My favorite on this list is Jupiter Hills or Seminole, but you could make a case for any o these golf courses in Florida. So while the tracks listed are mainly ultra-private clubs, you can get on the golf course easily if you know someone. And, if you can, I’m sure you’ll have the time of your life!