Tallahassee has great golf values close to the heartbeat of Florida's capital city

There are all kinds of reasons you could be visiting Tallahassee, from a sports event at one of the area's colleges and universities or having some serious sit-downs with the power brokers at the state capitol. Or maybe you're in for your best friend's wedding or to run in the Tallahassee Marathon.

Located in the northwestern part of the state, Tallahassee is considered one of the most interesting places in the Florida Panhandle with its rich natural areas and diverse topographically, creating a beautiful canvas for the region's golf course designs.

So let's just say you've arrived with some time on your hands and prefer to sneak in a golf game or two rather than go birding or manatee viewing with Cousin Maude. You'll need to rent clubs and you are looking for some affordable green fees. What are your options?

If you love classic historic courses, Capital City Country Club, located less than five minutes from downtown, is a beautiful choice with tees and greens close enough together to make it easily walkable. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, you will appreciate a layout well settled in with moss-draped oaks, tall pines, rolling hills and roll-up greens.

About four miles southwest of the city, Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club, owned and operated by Florida State University, is a well maintained track with some tricky approach shots to the greens. Fairways are, for the most part, open and water is pretty scarce, so the course does not beat you up. Seminole also has an excellent practice facility.

Another in-town track, Hilaman Park Golf Course, acquired by the city of Tallahassee in 1981 and reopened in 1982, has been a popular play among locals. Characterized by large, open fairways with numerous water hazards and bunkers, Hilaman is enjoyed by players of all levels.

SouthWood Golf Club, a classy amenity for the 3,200-acre St. Joe Company master-planned community less than seven miles from Tallahassee's city center, offers travelers accommodations in chic rustic-style cottages set on grounds punctuated by increasingly rare Shumard Oak trees and Slash Pines. The community's low-key ambiance is enhanced by grand moss-draped live oaks that shade fairways and grounds, while cottages have porches, fireplaces, sitting rooms and kitchens. Golf Digest named Southwood's Fred Couples/Gene Bates-designed golf course one of "America's Best New Courses" when it opened in 2002, and it's certified as a Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International.

Thirty minutes from Tallahassee, the Golf Club of Quincy, a Joe Lee design, has some surprising elevations, especially for Florida. It's not that long at about 6,700 yards from the tips, but the greens have some interesting elevations and there are several tee shots over water and gullies. The fairways are fairly open, making it a fair test for all kinds of players.

Wildwood Golf Club about 30 minutes from the city, is a nice layout amid picturesque rolling hills and oaks. In the past, the course -- specifically the greens -- has suffered from some maintenance issues, so ask about this when you call.

Heading about an hour south of Tallahassee's center, the St. James Bay golf course gives you a good dose of Florida's natural assets. Just a half-hour to St. George Island and close to the beaches, St. James Bay, an Audubon Signature Sanctuary course, challenges you to use most of the clubs in your bag. It's tight, well maintained with good greens, wetlands and several forced carries along with numerous bunkers. Certainly it's a good bet for more serious golfers with an excellent driving range and practice facility.

Cross Creek Driving Range and Par 3 Golf Course

And here's an idea. If you only have time for nine or want to hit some balls and play some holes at night, there is Cross Creek Driving Range and Par 3 Golf Course, a nine-hole executive facility east of downtown Tallahassee. Fairways are Bermuda grass and greens are Crenshaw bent grass with water along some fairways.

Country Oaks and Francis Lake in south Georgia

Just over the border in Georgia, about 90 minutes from Tallahassee, Francis Lake Golf Course is good to keep in mind if you're on your way to or from the city. Called one of Willard Byrd's best playing courses, Francis Lake, which opened in 1971, is pretty flat with water on five holes.

Country Oaks Golf Course is owned by the city of Thomasville, Ga. Set amid woodlands on 160 acres planted with azaleas, dogwoods, oaks, pines and other flowering trees, it is a pretty track. Although not long, Country Oaks' narrow fairways make scoring a challenge.

Whatever your reason for coming to the Tallahassee area, you should have no problem finding some golf close to where you are staying.

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.
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Tallahassee has great golf values close to the heartbeat of Florida's capital city
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