Play golf and cruise: Double the fun in the Florida sun

Is there anything better than a golf getaway in the Sunshine State?

Yes, if you plan your golf around a cruise to the Caribbean, Mexico, the Bahamas or other exotic ports of call.

Florida's major cruise ports are situated near a superb selection of golf courses, making it easy and convenient to fit in a round or two before or after a sailing.

So, don't forget to pack your clubs, a few golf shirts and some sunscreen to take full advantage of the lengthy list of golf courses.

Golf near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale

With cruises to everywhere from the Caribbean to the Panama Canal and Europe on lines such as Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Silversea, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is one of the largest cruise ports in the world.

Port Everglades is conveniently located from I-595, I-95, I-75 and U.S. 1, so you can drive to golf courses quickly and easily.

There are several golfing options within eight miles of Port Everglades, including Hollywood Beach Golf & Country Club , where a classic Donald Ross-designed layout built in 1924 is the magnet; Orangebrook Golf & Country Club, a 36-hole complex featuring the East and West Course s; Hillcrest Golf & Country Club , a Joe Lee redesign with Tif-Eagle greens, lakes and beautiful landscaping; and Diplomat Country Club , a quintessential south Florida golf experience with terrain dotted by more than 3,000 Coconut and Royal Palm trees and lakes incorporated in 16 of the 18 holes.

Golf near the Port of Miami

Set on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, the Port of Miami has 13 cruise lines with 30 ships venturing to destinations like the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Mexico.

The nearest notable golf course to the Port of Miami is the Crandon Golf Key Biscayne , which is less than 10 minutes away. Situated on a barrier island framed by turquoise waters, this Bruce Devlin/Robert von Hagge design, which hosted a Champions Tour event for nearly two decades, is engulfed by lush tropical foliage and mangrove thickets.

Ross fans can play the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, which is about a 20-minute drive from the port. Restored and modernized by architect Brian Silva, this classic layout features well placed bunkers and Ross' famous greens with subtle dips and contours.

Approximately 30 minutes away is the venerable Palmetto Golf Course , a municipally owned Dick Wilson design that runs parallel to U.S. 1.

Golf near Port Canaveral

Situated 45 miles east of Orlando near Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral offers three-, four-, five- and seven-day cruises to the Bahamas on Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.

You can even play golf and blackjack and slots the same day as Victory Casino Cruises offers five-hour cruises twice daily from Port Canaveral.

Tee up possibilities within a 25-minute drive include The Savannahs on Merritt Island , a Gordon Lewis design that weaves through a hardwood forest with water and wetlands factoring on 13 holes, and Viera East Golf Club , where native marshlands, lakes and innovative bunkering dominate the Lee layout.

If you only have enough time to get in a quick nine, consider the Cocoa Beach Country Club, which has 27 holes composed of three separate nines ( Lakes, River and Dolphin).

Golf near the Port of Tampa

Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line sail out of the Port of Tampa, which is located in downtown, a short distance from Ybor City, the historic Latin Quarter.

A variety of golf courses are less than a 20-minute drive from the port.

For those seeking economically priced, traditional golf, the Tampa Sports Authority manages two venerable local favorites, Rocky Point Golf Course and Rogers Park Golf Course .

If you like historical layouts, Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club is the only Florida golf course to be designated on the National Register of Historic Places.

Don't fret if you're pressed for time before or after your cruise. Terrace Hill Golf Club features the only lighted nine-hole golf course and driving range in the Tampa area and includes three par-4 holes and a par 3 that plays more than 200 yards.

For an 18-hole time-saver, try Countryway Golf Club , a 3,118-yard par-61 Steve Smyers design that features seven par 4s and 11 par 3s.

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.
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Play golf and cruise: Double the fun in the Florida sun
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