There's no shortage of great golf courses in the Florida Panhandle, including designs by Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, Greg Norman, Fred Couples and others. And after the round there's a great lineup of waterfront restaurants, crab shacks and oyster bars to cap your day. Ed Schmidt has more on this winning combination along the Gulf Coast.
When urban stress gets you down or you just want a getaway to a laid-back Old Florida setting, it's time to tee up near one of the Sunshine State's engaging historic small towns. After a round, you can stroll the quaint streets, view the sights and enjoy lunch or dinner at a friendly, locally owned restaurant.
Harbour Town Golf Links is on everyone's must-play list on Hilton Head Island thanks to the PGA Tour event at Harbour Town every April, the RBC Heritage. Somewhat less familiar, however, are the wide variety of golf courses on the island and the nearby communities of Bluffton, Beaufort and Savannah. Ed Schmidt offers up some suggestions to accommodate any budget.
No matter the level of your golf game, you'll enjoy testing your skills on the excellent lineup of golf courses in the Tampa, Fla. area that serve as sites for professional tournaments, U.S. Open qualifiers and collegiate matches. Ed Schmidt looks at Tampa's finest, which are superb designs with multiple tee placements and consistent maintenance standards.
If you play golf in the Tampa/St. Pete area, you're rewarded with amazing land diversity encompassing everything from abandoned rock quarries to pine-dotted, North Carolina-style terrain and quintessential palm and palmetto-studded terrain. For those who've never visited the area, however, it's sometimes befuddling to get around as you navigate long bridges over bays and state and county roads that lead to smaller towns with great golf courses.
What could be better than a golf getaway in Florida? How about golf and a cruise. The Sunshine State'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. Veteran Florida golf writer Ed Schmidt offers up some suggestions.
While golfers understandably flock to courses in Florida designed by architecture icons such as Dye, Fazio and Nicklaus, the Sunshine State also has impressive layouts by lesser known designers. If you've never played a course designed by architects such as John Sanford, Mike Dasher, Gordon Lewis, Gary Koch and Bill Amick, you haven't fully experienced great Florida golf. Luckily, courses by unfamiliar designers are located in different parts of the state so you don't have to travel far regardless of where you are.
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 sizeable menu of picturesque golf courses. You'll get some great shots with your clubs and your camera, Ed Schmidt writes.
Towering pine trees that look more North Carolina than Florida and elevation changes that look more north Georgia than north Tampa are just a couple of elements that make some of Tampa's courses among the more unique in the Sunshine State. The combination of diverse topography and innovative course designers resulted in an engaging menu of special, one-of-a-kind layouts. The eclectic group of golf architects responsible for these courses include Tom Lehman, Bobby Weed, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Donald Ross, Tom Bendelow, Chip Powell, Larry Packard and John Sanford.
If you want to play a Jack Nicklaus-designed course on Hilton Head Island, there is only one with public access: Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run. It's not only a challenging layout from the back tees, but it's also a friendly design for women, juniors and seniors with six sets of tees. Tucked within the beautiful tree-laden Indigo Run residential community, away from the maddening crowds, the course has something for everyone.
While golfers flock to Florida for sun-splashed fairways, most tourists and family members who don't play golf are attracted by the state's world-class theme parks. Fortunately for the dedicated golfer, there is a lengthy menu of excellent golf courses to play just minutes from Florida's most popular theme parks. Ed Schmidt has more.
The master planners of Grande Lakes Orlando Resort made a concerted effort to include every type of recreational amenity imaginable: a Greg Norman-designed signature golf course, an expansive Lazy River Pool swim complex, lighted tennis courts and more. Set on 500 acres about a five-minute drive from SeaWorld Orlando, Grande Lakes Orlando encompasses two hotels, a 40,000-square-foot spa, 6,000-square-foot Wellness Center and 13 restaurants and lounges.