Best Golf Courses In Florida

No US state has more golf courses, but what are the best golf courses in Florida?

11th green at TPC Sawgrass - Best Golf Courses In Florida
11th green at TPC Sawgrass
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Best Golf Courses In Florida

The best golf courses In Florida have a lot of local competition as this state is internationally renowned for its golf. This reputation is helped by the worldwide exposure it receives through the PGA Tour’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Honda Classic at PGA National and Valspar Championship at Innisbrook.

The Sunshine State has a plethora of excellent golf courses. Some of them you will need to play with a member; others you need to stay at the resort the course is part of, but some do accept green fees. We give you the lowdown on some of the best golf this state offers.

Bay Hill

Bay Hill 6th hole

Bay Hill 6th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Orlando
  • Designed by: Dick Wilson; redesigned by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,381 yards
  • Green fee: Private

Arnold Palmer liked the course so much that he bought it in the mid-1970s and made it his winter home. Many owners like to redecorate their homes and move things around and he was no different, tinkering with the design, in particular bringing the greens closer to the lakes. There are three nine-hole layouts here with the Champion and Challenger nines comprising the 18-hole course that the PGA Tour play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational every year.

Concession

8th hole at the Concession Golf Club

8th hole at the Concession Golf Club 

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Bradenton
  • Designed by: Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,470 yards
  • Green fee: Private

Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin designed this course which takes its name from an incident at the 1969 Ryder Cup involving the pair. Jacklin needed to hole the final putt of the Ryder Cup to tie the match but Nicklaus, in a much-heralded act of sportsmanship, conceded the putt as a gimme, and so the overall match was tied, although the USA retained the Cup as the holders. The Concession – the course, not the act of sportsmanship was intended to be a private club with a championship-level course. This includes its test from the tips the slope rating is 155, the highest a rating can reach. It hosted the WGC Championships in 2021.

Innisbrook (Copperhead)

Innisbrook (Copperhead) 16th hole

Innisbrook (Copperhead) 16th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Palm Harbour
  • Designed by: Lawrence Packard
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7,340 yards
  • Green fee: Range of packages available

The Valspar Championship takes place here annually, and the final trio of holes, known as the Snake Pit, is considered to comprise one of the toughest finishes on the PGA Tour. This starts with the 458-yard dogleg par-4 16th (above) with its tight fairway and water on the inside of the dogleg. The layout, which runs across gently undulating pine tree-lined fairways, is regarded by tour players as a tough-but-fair track. It is one of four 18-hole courses at the resort.

McArthur

The long par-4 11th hole at McArthur

The long par-4 11th hole at McArthur  

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Hobe Sound
  • Designed by: Tom Fazio and Nick Price
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,072 yards
  • Green fee: Private

Just as the bunkers were on golf courses because the early links courses were laid out on sand dunes, so do the large sandy areas at McArthur reflect that the basis of this course is a sandy ridge. However the look is not all that natural as a million cubic yards of sand were moved in building the course. The club’s logo is a milk bottle: McArthur Dairy Farms own the property and are majority shareholder in the club. Another shareholder is Nick Price, who brought in Tom Fazio to design the course. The layout reflects Price’s philosophy that good design is about players being made to think about correct positioning and setting up the right angle for the next shot, rather than a series of risk-and-reward holes. Thus the holes often have generous fairways despite the vast acreage of sand.

Medalist

Medalist 18th hole

Medalist 18th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Hobe Sound
  • Designed by: Pete Dye and Greg Norman
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,571 yards
  • Green fee: Private

Tiger Woods, a member, worked with the club on creating eight new Tiger tees which extended the course to 7,571 yards to further test the tour players who play and practise here. The 1st hole, for example, now has a forced carry of 280 yards off the Tiger tees. The course recently hosted The Match between Woods and Phil Mickelson. An earlier match between tour players, one of whom had also worked on the course design, was between the then Official World number One and two golfers, Greg Norman and Nick Price, in Shell's Wonderful World of Golf. Since opening in 1995 the course underwent several redesigns and tweaks by Norman which proved controversial. Bobby Weed was subsequently brought in to try to restore some of the original style and flavour to the layout.

Mountain Lake

Mountain Lake's 5th hole is called Biarritz

Mountain Lake's 5th hole Biarritz

(Image credit: Mike Potthast )
  • Location: Lake Wales
  • Designed by: Seth Raynor
  • Par: 70
  • Yardage: 6,885 yards
  • Green fee: Private

This club is a rather delightful step back in time. Not only does the course date from 1916, but the designer, Seth Raynor, had laid it out paying homage to some of the existing great hole designs. Except in conditioning, this is not a typical modern golf course. Indeed, it is not even particularly a typical Florida course as it is laid on a sand ridge. Raynor was not a golfer, but an engineer. He learnt course design from working for Charles Blair Macdonald and shared with his mentor the belief that a successful course was built to a template. Raynor adapted, engineered almost, great hole design templates to fit the land he had to work with wherever possible – and this often involved moving large amounts of earth to create these right conditions. Thus his designs would seek to incorporate a redan green, an Eden hole, a Biarritz green, and so on. You don’t necessarily need a course planner at Mountain Lake, as the hole names explain what you will encounter, such as hole 5 Biarritz (above).

PGA National Resort & Spa (Champion)

PGA National Resort & Spa 18th hole

PGA National Resort 18th hole on Champion

(Image credit: PGA National Resort & Spa)
  • Location: Palm Beach
  • Designed by: Tom and George Fazio; redesigned by Jack Nicklaus
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,075 yards
  • Green fee: $175-$375 resort guests only

The Champion course, one of five 18-hole layouts at the resort, opened in 1981 and hosted the Ryder Cup in 1983. In 1987 it was the venue for the US PGA Championship. But the current design is the work of Jack Nicklaus who carried out a redesign in 1990 and a further, more modest, redesign in 2002.

Seminole

Seminole 18th hole

Seminole 18th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Juno Beach
  • Designed by: Donald Ross
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,265 yards
  • Green fee: Private

Founded in 1929, Donald Ross’ layout made much use of elevation changes and the sandy ridge it was built on, and his routing ensured that each hole is played in a different direction from the previous one. Subsequent renovations were made by Dick Wilson in 1957 and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in the late 2010s. The club hosted the Walker Cup in 2021.

Streamsong (Black)

Streamsong Black 9th

The 9th hole on Streamsong's Black course

(Image credit: Larry Lambrech)
  • Location: Bowling Green
  • Designed by: Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner
  • Par: 73
  • Yardage: 7,320 yards
  • Green fee: $109-$299

This layout is notable for its wide fairways and lack of rough – if you run out of fairway you encounter waste areas of sand. The greens are huge – such as the punchbowl green on 9 (above) – and amount to 11 acres in all (by way of comparison the other courses at Streamsong both have seven acres of putting surfaces). Five par 5s and four par 3s edge the par up to 73.

Streamsong (Blue)

Streamsong Blue

Streamsong Blue 7th hole

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Bowling Green
  • Designed by: Tom Doak
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,276 yards
  • Green fee: $109-$299

The Blue is renowned as a very playable course with wide fairways and, as the fairway bunkers are placed at different length off the tees on different holes, consistent drivers need only worry about fairway bunkers on some of the holes. The par-3 7th (above) may garner most attention for its beauty, but the par-3 5th is a most intriguing design. The 5th is on the card at 157 yards, as measurement is taken from the back of the tee to centre of the green. However this green is 75 yards deep. It is also relatively narrow and guarded down both sides by a series of bunkers.

Streamsong (Red)

Streamsong Red 17th

Streamsong Red 17th

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Bowling Green
  • Designed by: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,110 yards
  • Green fee: $109-$299

The 16th hole (above) with its huge Biarritz green – and by huge we mean 72 yards by 25 yards – surrounded by dunes and perched above water is the highest of many highlights of a round here. This course has a strong a set of par 3s as you could hope to find for a combination of beauty, drama and individuality. The waterside green of the 147-yard 8th twists in the shape of a stretched, inverted S with bunkers either side of the centre of the twist in this 62 yards by eight yards putting surface.

TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)

TPC Sawgrass' iconic 17th hole

17th hole on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ponte Vedra Beach
  • Designed by: Pete Dye
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,245 yards
  • Green fee: $450-$600

The Stadium course TPC Sawgrass was built to be the home of the Players Championship. It was designed by Pete Dye, but its iconic hole, the island green par-3 17th, was actually the idea of his wife Alice. His original design had water just on the right-hand side. It is a genuinely short hole – 137 yards for the pros – but it can lead to some dramatic late changes in the leaderboard. For example at the 2019 Players, only 80.6% of tee shots held the green, and the 17th yielded both the most birdies of the par 3s but also the most double bogeys as well.

Trump National Doral (Blue Monster)

Trump National Doral

Blue Monster 18th hole at Trump National Doral

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Miami
  • Designed by: Dick Wilson, redesigned by Gil Hanse
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,590 yards
  • Green fee: $425-$525

This resort was founded in 1959 and Dick Wilson was brought in as course designer and it first played host to the PGA Tour in 1962, the course earning the nickname the Blue Monster due to its severity. The Blue Monster, one of four courses at the resort, was the venue for the Doral Open on the PGA Tour from 1962 to 2006, and from 2007 to 2016 of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. In 2012 the Trump Organization bought the bankrupt resort and commissioned Gil Hanse to redesign Blue Monster. The changes did not make it any less severe and the 473-par-4 18th (above) earned prominence as one of the toughest final holes on Tour.

Which US state has the most golf courses?

Florida. California has the second most number of golf courses. No-one seems to agree on the exact figure for Florida, but it is well over a thousand courses. The Sunshine State has an international reputation for the quality of its golf courses. 

Who designed the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass?

The Stadium Course was built to be the home of the Players Championship. It was designed by Pete Dye. His original design had water just on the right-hand side of the 17th, but sand had been dug out all around it to use elsewhere on the course. His wife, Alice, suggested that rather than fill in this crater, he should turn the hole into a island green instead.

Can anyone play at TPC Sawgrass?

Yes, both of the courses at TPC Sawgrass, the Stadium Course, which holds the The Players Championship every year on the PGA Tour, and Dye's Valley Course, are open to the public.

Is Florida good for golf?

Yes. Florida is well-known internationally for its golf courses, helped by the weather and the exposure it receives through the PGA Tour’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Honda Classic at PGA National and Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. As well as these tour venues, there are many other top-notch courses designed by some of the best architects.

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he worked as contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around 20 countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.