Pine Barrens at World Woods Golf Club features dramatic bunkering and old mossy oaks.  (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor) Located along Long Bayou, Seminole Lake Country Club features a wealth of water and bird life.  (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor) TPC Tampa Bay's sixth hole is only 144 yards, but the mounds and bunkers make it play a lot tougher.  (Courtesy of TPC Tampa Bay) The Copperhead golf course at Innisbrook Resort is drop-dead gorgeous -- and challenging. (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor)

Tampa Bay Beauties: Play the most scenic golf courses around Tampa, Florida

Blessed with natural features like marsh and wetlands, ancient oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, tall pine and palm trees, sometimes rolling terrain and pristine lakes, the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida area is home to a sizable menu of picturesque golf courses.

Expanding the appeal north of Tampa are golf courses routed in old rock quarries and on wildly undulating land with amazing elevation changes.

These courses guarantee you'll get some great shots with your clubs and your camera.

Most scenic golf courses in Tampa

Stunning massive 100-year-old oak trees, tall pine trees and natural marshland dominate the terrain at the Bloomingdale Golfers Club. Enhancing the beauty at this Ron Garl design are fields of wildflowers and native foliage. If you have serious game, try the "Tiger Tees" at 7,165 yards.

The scenic course most identified with the Tampa area is Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, where the pine tree-lined fairways make you feel like you've been airdropped into the Carolinas. Home to the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship in March, the 7,300-yard Copperhead is drop-dead gorgeous and challenging.

Blending challenge and beauty for maximum effect, TPC Tampa Bay, a Bobby Weed design with consultation from Chi-Chi Rodriguez, is an exceptionally scenic golf experience. Designated as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, this 6,898-yard, par-71 layout weaves through natural wetlands, cypress heads and several ponds and lagoons. While birdies on the course might be hard to come by, rest assured, you'll see lots of egrets, storks, cranes, blue heron and eagles.

Designers Gordon Lewis and Jed Azinger worked diligently to preserve the natural beauty of the land where Heritage Isles Golf & Country Club sits. Even if you weren't playing golf, this layout would be a great nature walk through a setting of natural wetlands, beautiful cypress trees and ponds. There are five sets of tees ranging from 4,832 to 6,976 yards.

North of Tampa

In Zephyrhills, about 30 minutes north of Tampa, the Links of Lake Bernadette, designed by Dean Refram in 1983, offers a tree-rich setting with rolling fairways and towering pine trees. The par-71 layout measures 6,484 yards from the back tees and 5,031 yards from the forward tees.

Approximately 45 minutes north of Tampa in the town of Brooksville, renowned for World Woods Golf Club and its two Tom Fazio-designed courses (Rolling Oaks and Pine Barrens), there's a trio of other beauties that should be on your play list.

Hernando Oaks Golf & Country Club gives golfers a feeling of seclusion, especially on the back nine. Designer Scott Pate uses native grass species in the rough areas and the 6,905-yard par-72 course feels natural and uncontrived.

Brooksville Country Club is one of those hidden gems you'll tell all your golf friends about. Designed by Weed, it features a front nine with rolling terrain and tree-lined fairways and a back nine with jaw-dropping holes that snake along, around and between the steep rock walls of an abandoned limestone quarry. It has five sets of tees, ranging from 6,812 yards to 5,300 yards.

For a fun and scenic nine-hole golf experience in Brooksville, try the Quarry Golf Course, which has seven par-3 holes and two par 4s, with several of the holes offering spectacular panoramas of deep rock quarries left behind by old mining companies.

Most scenic golf courses in the St. Petersburg area

A venerable layout that opened in 1974, Bardmoor Golf Club once hosted the PGA/LPGA Classic in the late 1970s and 1980s. While it does have a few homes and condos alongside the course, the creeks, lagoons and mature trees make the layout a scenic experience. Stretching to 7,015 yards from the back tees, the par-72 Bardmoor, which was redesigned by Gary Koch in 2001, also offers the forward tees at 5,054 yards and other tee settings.

Seminole Lake Country Club takes full advantage of its location along Long Bayou. Golfers are afforded scenic views of this beautiful body of water and can see a wide range of wildlife, including a family of American Bald Eagles. There are five tee settings on the par-71 layout, which ranges from 6,501 yards from the back tees to 5,005 yards from the forward tees.

Feb 11, 2014

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Ed Schmidt


Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.