WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- If you love golf and tennis, Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa, Florida is your ticket. While the resort is probably better known for its tennis program, the golf certainly holds its own, and might even surprise you.
As a resort, Saddlebrook is complete with spa, restaurants, wonderful pools and more than 500 different accommodations and more than 95,000 square feet of meeting space. In fact, it's very similar to another nearby resort, Innisbrook, primarily because they were created by the same companies. Innisbrook, of course, is home to four golf courses, including the famed Copperhead Course, host of the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.
The difference between the two, besides Saddlebrook exceling at tennis, is that Saddlebrook is more centralized and compact than Innisbrook. Once you check in at Saddlebrook, you valet your car, have a bell hop deliver your bags to your room or condo, then you can simply walk to the golf and tennis clubhouses, restaurants, bars or spa. It's all in one place.
We're golfers first, of course
There are actually two golf courses at Saddlebrook Resort, and they're better than you might think. In a way, though, that shouldn't come as a surprise. Saddlebrook is home to an excellent prep school that prepares not only some of the best tennis players in the world, but the best golfers as well. And that wouldn't happen if the resort and community of Saddlebrook didn't offer good challenging golf courses and practice facilities.
Along with the prep school, it's only natural that Saddlebrook would have one of the finest golf academies in the region, the Saddlebrook Golf Training Center and Range. Led by Andrew Dawes, the center offers a large practice facility with both a short-game area and full range as well as indoor bays with all the latest technology, including TrackMan, SamBalanceLab, and SamPuttLab.
As for the courses, they're very different from each other.
Both have Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay's names on them, but the original Saddlebrook Course came first in 1976 as a Dean Refram design and is the signature golf look at the resort with its magnificent cypress trees lining fairways and wetlands. There are plenty of doglegs and choices to make off the tee, which means it's certainly a shot maker's course and good training for the kids in the golf program.
The same could be said for the Palmer Course, but it doesn't have the cypress trees (there are plenty of pines and water). It's only 6,200 yards, but it's no pushover since not every par 4 or 5 is a driver hole. Again, you have to manage your game.
Video: Golfing World goes behind the scenes at Saddlebrook
Beyond golf, there's tennis, dining and spa
If you play tennis, too, you can do that in either the morning or the afternoon on the resort's 45 courts on four different surfaces, including grass, and still get in a round of golf. (John Isner trains there before Wimbledon.)
Also, like golf, you can get the premium instruction in tennis or take part in one of the program's many drills. You can also book a spot in one of the resort's tennis camps, which combines drills with personal instruction.
Or you could spend the week at Saddlebrook improving both your tennis and golf game. Yes, Saddlebrook can put together custom packages that would cover both. Just contact the golf or tennis shop.
After tennis and/or golf, you can dine at several different restaurants, including Dempsey's Steak House, TD's Sports Bar or the casual Poolside Café and Pool Bar. Among the can't-miss items are the carrot cake and Key lime pie, both made from scratch at the resort's own bakery and possibly among the best in Florida.
And finally, after all that golf and tennis, you might want to check out the 7,000-square-foot European-style Saddlebrook Spa. Treatments feature a full menu of spa and salon services as well as whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, and a courtyard terrace for lounging, sunbathing and dining. Massage techniques range from sports recovery to reflexology and hot stone treatments.
There are a number of golf packages at Saddlebrook. The Preferred Golfers Package starts at $173 and features daily golf, unlimited use of the practice facility, deluxe accommodations, breakfast and more. You can browse more stay-and-play offers here.