Best golf resorts in Florida
Onsite accommodation, extensive golf facilities and more, we explore the top must-visit golf resorts in the Sunshine State.
Florida is the number one golf destination in North America and a firm favorite amongst Golfbreaks by PGA TOUR customers. In this article we look at the nine best golf resorts in Florida, starting around Jacksonville on the northeast Atlantic coast and working our way clockwise to Tampa on the Gulf side.
Many of them you will recognize as regular PGA TOUR stops, and we highly recommend that you tick these ALL off your bucket list over time…or perhaps in one go!
1. Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa
The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa is a fantastic stay and play resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, just south east of Jacksonville. Accommodations are modern and comfortable, ranging from traditional guestrooms to luxurious suites and spacious villas. Multiple dining options, a full-service spa and private beach access with the Cabana Beach Club complete the high-end resort experience.
Adjacent to the Marriott resort is TPC Sawgrass, and the world-famous Stadium Course, which is home of THE PLAYERS Championship every year. No doubt one of the most famous golf courses in the world with the iconic par-3 17th island green part of a trio of nerve-wracking finishing holes. Be sure to also play Dye's Valley, the Stadium’s sister course that has hosted many elite professional and amateur tournaments. With large greens, water on nearly every hole and first-class conditions, it is the perfect complement to the Stadium Course.
2. World Golf Village
Onsite is the Slammer & Squire, a championship layout designed by Bobby Weed with design consultants Sam "The Slammer" Snead and Gene "The Squire" Sarazen. Set in a stunning natural landscape with numerous water hazards in play, this delightful course is characterized by unique par-3s and generous, rolling fairways.
A short drive away is 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.
3. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge
As we continue down the Atlantic coast and turn inland to Orlando, we highly recommend a trip to the bucket-list Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge. On first appearance, it is a very understated ‘resort’ with a small 70-bedroom lodge. However, don’t be fooled as this is its charm, with all guests treated like members for their stay and guaranteed a most intimate and private experience.
There are multiple dining options with the ‘Members Lounge’, a great place to start and end your evening, as well as plenty of onsite activities. Arnie’s grace and charisma are woven throughout the property with images and great stories of ‘The King’ plentiful.
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 PGA TOUR Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Charger, a third nine, offers a shorter, more open (but still challenging) experience.
Located in Palm Beach Gardens, where the PGA of America has been based since 1965, and an hour north of Miami is PGA National Resort & Spa. This is quite the complex with over 300 guest rooms and cottages, an abundance of dining options, full leisure and spa facilities, as well as five golf courses to choose from. Current extensive renovations are a little disruptive however the finished product will be a fantastic upgrade.
One of five courses at PGA National, the Champion Course hosts the PGA TOUR’s 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."
The Palmer and Fazio courses both offer a nice resort experience and are very playable for all levels of golfer. The Squire, also a Fazio design, is the shortest of the five and requires accurate shot-making, whilst the Estate Course is located off the property and is perfect for higher handicappers.
Having been completely renovated as part of the switch from Fairmont to Marriott, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa is one of South Florida’s premier destinations. Located near North Miami Beach in a 300-acre tropical oasis, this Mediterranean-inspired resort has it all, from high-end dining and a luxurious spa to numerous pools, slides and rides.
The two championship golf courses onsite, the Soffer and Miller, were originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr, and have been re-worked by famous golf icon Raymond Floyd. The more challenging Soffer Course has hosted several PGA and LPGA tournaments in its time. Beware of the numerous creeks that cut across the fairways and lagoons that eat into many of the landing areas for tee shots.
The Miller Course, though shorter at 6400 yards off the back tees, is a great warm-up with a premium on straight tee shots and accurate approach play. There is plenty of water to consider with two-thirds of the course playing alongside the resort’s lakes.
6. Trump National Doral Miami
Doral is an iconic resort that has been around since the 1960s, with the Trump organization most recently taking it to a new level of excellence. There are close to 700 guest rooms, a fine array of dining options, a world-class spa, tennis courts and an expansive fitness center, along with the four championship golf courses onsite. Access is very easy too with Miami International Airport just 8 miles away.
The Blue Monster is the premier course, and has 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 best-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 found on many of the Australian courses.
7. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort
As we now make the turn west on Florida’s south coast and head to Naples on the Gulf side, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort is an exceptional retreat nestled amid rolling greens, tropical palm trees and shimmering lakes. It is located on the north side of Naples just 5 miles from the coast and its sister beachfront property, which guests can also enjoy. Tiburon Golf Club is also onsite which is home to two Greg Norman-designed championship courses.
The Gold Course, which opened in 1998 and is just under 7400 yards off the tips, plays annual host to the PGA TOUR’s QBE Shootout (formerly called the Shark Shootout) and the LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship. Be sure to bring your putting game to these large, fast greens.
The Black is shorter but a more challenging course with a slope of 145. Routed through acres of pine trees, with many water hazards and fairways flanked with waste areas, accuracy is well rewarded.
8. Streamsong Resort
Heading north along the Gulf coast from Naples and then inland, south-east of Tampa, you will find yourself in the middle of nowhere! Fear not though, as the famed Streamsong Resort is tucked away in here and well worth getting off the beaten track for. One of Florida’s more recent additions, this unique property boasts three Top 100 courses that were designed by four legendary architects – Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak and Gil Hanse. Although a resort, with other wonderful attributes, Streamsong is ALL about the golf!
What makes the courses so special and different to others in Florida is the unique landscape that was created from the mining of a former phosphate strip mine, upon which all 3 courses sit. Instead of flatland, you’ll find towering sand dunes and unexpected contours.
The Red Course tumbles through rolling terrain, expansive lakes and stretches of open savannah, whereas on The Blue you will experience huge sand dunes, multiple elevation changes, wild grasses and ponds.
The Black is the newest of the three courses, and reminiscent of the Australian Sand Belt, offering rolls, tumbles and sand ridges, along with 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. The perfect way to clean up any unsettled bets.
Our final stop as we circumnavigate the coast of Florida is Innisbrook Resort, just outside of Tampa. Set amongst 900 acres of woodland with spacious accommodation lodges sprinkled throughout, the resort boasts 6 swimming pools including the Loch Ness Monster (complete with water slides), 11 clay tennis courts, a tranquil spa, a fully-equipped fitness center and 4 dining options. Also onsite are four fabulous golf courses designed by Lawrence Packard.
The Copperhead is the most recognizable of the four courses as it hosts the annual Valspar Championship, and is famous for three of the toughest finishing holes on the PGA TOUR known as the ‘Snake Pit’. Pine tree-lined fairways and rolling terrain define the course, which is a favorite amongst the world’s best players.
The other three championship layouts of the Island, North and South courses feature up to 70 feet of elevation change, and scenery more reminiscent of the Carolina sandhills and Georgia foothills than the typical Florida terrain.
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Director of Product, developing great golf packages and experiences in North America for our customers