Best golf courses in Jacksonville
From the iconic Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, to the King & Bear and Slammer & Squire courses at the World Golf Village, Jacksonville is a cultural hub for golfers – perfect for your next golf vacation.
There is plenty of golf on offer in Jacksonville and with so many excellent choices, it is often difficult to decide where to play when visiting. Below, we have chosen the seven best golf courses in Jacksonville - each one epitomises why this city and the surrounding area is so great for golf lovers.
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is undoubtedly one of America’s finest. Annual host of THE PLAYERS Championship, it is an opportunity for amateur golfers to walk in the footsteps of the game’s best players.
Former PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman worked closely with iconic golf course architect Pete Dye to create the Stadium Course in 1982, and the vision was simple: keep the design neutral so as not to favour any particular player or style of play – the result is a truly balanced golf course, with a selection of holes that vary in length and par 4s and 5s that dogleg in both directions. The conditions are second-to-none and the finish (16, 17 and 18) is breathtaking – especially the world-famous par-3 17th with its island green. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass really is one to tick off the bucket-list.
If you wish to experience TPC Sawgrass to its fullest, then Dye’s Valley should also be on your itinerary. While it is considered easier than its show-stealing big brother, there is enough danger to warrant your focus from the outset.
Water hazards are in abundance – which is a theme at Sawgrass – but the landing areas from the tee are wider and in general the layout is less punishing. Dye’s Valley was ranked no. 21 by Golfweek in 2017-18 in the category of ‘Best Courses You Can Play in Florida’ and is consistently kept to the same TOUR standard as its sibling. Whilst the Stadium Course rightly takes a large proportion of the headlines at Sawgrass, Dye’s Valley is an excellent alternative that offers a valid challenge of its own.
The King & Bear at World Golf Village is the first and only co-design between two of golf’s greatest: Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and is rightly titled after the nick-names that these two players were widely known as - The King and the Golden Bear.
The course combines the different design styles of the two men as it works its way through the natural landscape. There are plenty of lakes to avoid and these are bordered by large coquina rock formations that come into play throughout the round. Native Loblolly pines and archaic oaks border the fairways, and fast, firm greens are well-protected by the bunkering. The King & Bear is a special course and one of two championship layouts on offer at the World Golf Village.
Similarly to the King & Bear, the Slammer & Squire was named after the nicknames of the duo responsible for this design: Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen – with the help of renowned architect Bobby Weed. The three men wanted to create a course that would preserve the area’s natural beauty while also rewarding good shot-making.
Unspoiled wooded areas, wetlands and beautiful vistas of the local environment are on offer at virtually every hole. The fairways are relatively wide, which will encourage hard-hitting drives, and the contoured greens demand respect when reaching the putting surfaces. In general, an emphasis has been placed on the golfer’s short game and ultimately, their feel and touch will determine if they are to score well. The World Golf Village is also home to the World Golf Hall of Fame, which provides an excellent experience and insight into some of golf’s most decorated players.
5. Oak Marsh, Omni Amelia Island Resort
Situated to the north-east of Jacksonville on Amelia Island, Oak Marsh’s impressive layout was designed by Pete Dye in 1972. It is known for its tight fairways, small greens, salt marsh creeks and the moss draped heritage oaks which the Island is renowned for.
Oak Marsh, Omni Amelia Island Resort
The par-72 6,500-yard course presents 14 holes with water hazards for the golfer to contend with, plus a wide array of bunkers that further enhance this formidable challenge. The layout was included in Golf Digest’s list of ‘Top 75 Resort Courses in the U.S’ and it was also selected by Travel & Leisure as one of ‘Florida’s Top 50 Finest Courses’. If you’re looking for a great test of golf crafted by the visionary that is Pete Dye, then look no further than Oak Marsh.
St. Johns Golf & Country Club is located 20 miles south of Jacksonville and is a certified Audubon Sanctuary which simply means you will be surrounded by the natural landscape and plenty of wildlife. Designed by Clyde Johnston, the course has been carved out of the pine forest and provides a challenge for golfers of all abilities.
The difficulty is often dependent on the strength of the wind that works its way off the Atlantic Ocean, a calm day will allow for scoring opportunities, but play St Johns when the wind is up and it is a totally different battle. Although a less expensive option than some of the other courses listed above, a day at St Johns Golf & Country Club is an excellent addition to a Jacksonville golf vacation.
7. The Yards, Ponte Vedra Beach
The Yards at Ponte Vedra Beach is drastically different to the other courses present on this list. While the original design took place by Arnold Palmer in 1973, new ownership in 2016 have implemented their big ambition to freshen up the golf scene in north Florida and The Yards has become the first 12-hole course of Championship standard to be situated in the area.
Located less than a mile away from TPC Sawgrass, The Yards provides the perfect alternative if you don’t quite have enough time to squeeze in 18 holes or if you’re looking for an additional game towards the end of the day as the sun starts to go down.
The north Florida climate provides an excellent environment for golf, and with the selection of courses available including the famous Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Jacksonville and the surrounding area is extremely popular for a golf vacation. Away from the course, the destination has plenty more to offer, from the beaches to a vibrant nightlife, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for the duration of your trip.
Golf Vacation Specialist
Golf Vacation Specialist, I enjoy helping customers find their perfect golf getaway