The Sunshine State “Florida” doesn’t need any introduction. The popular panhandle peninsula is the place where most of the Americans go during winter. Florida is also the states where most of the international golfers come to tee off.
The state of Florida has more than 1250 golf courses and most of them are open to the public for a nominal fee. Nevertheless, if you want to have some fun in one of the best in Florida then you will have to have some skillful networking. Without your networking, you won’t be able to see the very sight of these top-notch golf courses.
The top 10 high-quality golf courses present in Florida are listed as follows:
Top 10 High-Quality Golf Courses
Shingle Creek Golf Club
In the state of Florida, it is not particularly hard to find a great golf course. There are beautiful courses dotted all over this sunny state, including a number of great options in the Orlando area. However, even when stacked up against that impressive competition, Shingle Creek Golf Club manages to stand out. As one of the best golf courses in Florida, Shingle Creek should be high on your list if you are ever in nearby.
So what makes Shingle Creek such a great place to play? First, it has an impressive design pedigree. The Arnold Palmer Design Company is responsible for the redesigned layout, which instantly gives this facility some credibility. The Palmer name is one of the most-respected in the history of golf. That association alone should cause you to sit up and pay attention. Courses which fall under the Palmer design umbrella are known for being playable yet interesting, meaning they are a great pick for players of all skill levels.
The 14th hole at Shingle Creek is a great demonstration of this concept. For the talented, experienced player, the 14th is a driveable par-four. At just 325 yards from the back tees, a powerful golfer may be able to challenge the green with their drive. However, less-experienced players will be able to lay up to create an easy wedge into the green. Holes like this make it possible to players of various skill levels to enjoy Shingle Creek equally.
As is the case throughout much of the Orlando area, golf at Shingle Creek is not exactly cheap. With that said, the rates for this top five best golf course in Florida fall within the expected range for a quality facility. Depending on the time of day you play, and the day of the week, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 – $165 for your 18-hole round. For your money, you get the use of a golf cart, range balls, the GPS system, a complimentary valet, and more.
If there is one thing that you will come away remembering about Shingle Creek after your round is complete. It is likely the collection of water hazards that you were required to navigate. Recently redesigned from its original layout, the course now features water on 16 of the 18 holes. If you are going to escape this course with a low score, you will need to do a good job of staying safely away from the water hazards.
When discussing the title of the best golf course in Florida, you should at least keep Shingle Creek on the list. With the redesign complete, this course now offers a fair test for players of all skill levels from beginners to experienced professionals. The course can be played from less than 5,000 yards if you select the shortest tees, and it can stretch to more than 7,200 yards from the black tees. No matter which tees you pick, a great day is in store when you tee it up at Shingle Creek Golf Club.
Champions Gate Golf Club – National
Champions Gate is a golf facility near Orlando, Florida which offers two golf courses – the National, and the International. While both of these courses are worth your attention. We are going to be focusing on the National course in this article. As the name would indicate, the National layout is exactly the kind of course you would expect to find in the U.S. It is a parkland-style course, featuring plenty of green grass, 80 bunkers, and several water hazards. If you are looking for a challenge, the National can be stretched out to more than 7,100 yards (with a course rating of 75.2). This course can be rather tame as well, however, when you step up to the white or red tees, both of which measure less than 6,000 yards.
If you like to pick golf courses based on the designer who created the layout, the National course at Champions Gate will grab your attention right away. Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman is responsible for the design of both courses at Champions Gate, which opened back in 2000. Norman has designed courses around the world, and he showed off his versatility at Champions gate by creating two unique designs. If you are in town long enough to play both of the courses at this popular facility, you will be amazed at just how different two courses on the same property can be.
The price you will need to pay for a tee time at Champions Gate depends on a number of factors. Like most other courses, you will pay more for a time early in the morning than you will pay in the twilight hours. If you are staying at the resort on the property, you will pay around 20% less than the standard rate. Local Central Florida residents pay even less, so keep that in mind if you live nearby. Overall, the rates for the Champions Gate National course fall in line with other quality courses in the area. On a weekend morning, you can pay in excess of $150 for a tee time, while you may pay $60 or less on a weekday afternoon.
One of the many things to like about playing golf at Champions Gate is the proximity it provides to other local attractions. Specifically, you will only be a short drive from Walt Disney World. If you are coming to Central Florida to both play golf and visit the many theme parks in the area, Champions Gate is a great place to call home for the week. You will have direct access to two high-end golf courses, and you will be just a quick drive away from Disney World. To be sure, this is a place the whole family can love.
Whether you choose to play the National or the International course, you are likely to have a great time on the fairways and greens of Champions Gate. With a top designer like Greg Norman and plenty of Florida sunshine, you have the perfect recipe for some memorable golf. Go have fun!
Grand Cypress Golf Club – New Course
If you are looking for a unique golf experience in Central Florida, the Grand Cypress Golf Club New Course may be the perfect choice. Unlike many of the courses in the area, this is not a typical American-style parkland course. Rather, this course is a tribute to the famous Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. The Old Course in St. Andrews is perhaps the most well-known course on the planet. While this 18-hole layout at Grand Cypress is not going to challenge that title anytime soon, it is a design which is worthy of your attention.
When it comes to paying tribute to one of the classic courses in the history of the game, the task of selecting a designer is not an easy one. Very few people have the clout within the game of golf to attempt such a project, and the designer of the New Course is certainly on that list – Jack Nicklaus. Considered by many to be the best golfer in the history of the game, Nicklaus had plenty of success at The Old Course throughout his career. With this Central Florida design, Nicklaus brought many of the wonderful elements of links golf to the United States.
What do you think of when you picture The Old Course? Likely, pot bunkers are one of your first thoughts. Those are certainly represented at the New Course, with 150 of them on the property. Some of the bunkers are up to 12-feet deep, another calling card of classic links golf. One of the biggest departures from typical Florida golf on the New Course is the lack of water hazards and trees. While those are common features on most Florida layouts, they are few and far between on this Nicklaus design.
There is plenty of challenge to be found on the New Course, but it is not going to punish you from a distance perspective. The course is less than 6,800 yards from the back tees, and it is less than 6,100 from the white tees. The course ratings from the various tees are also rather modest, so this is a course that all golfers should be able to enjoy equally. To play the New Course at Grand Cypress on a weekend day will often set you back $150 or more. If that price sounds a little too steep for your budget, you may want to look for afternoon tee times, which often come along with discounted rates.
When your round on the New Course has been completed, you could choose to continue your golfing day by squeezing in a few holes on other parts of the property. There are three other nine-hole layouts to consider, the North, South, and East Courses. These designs, also from Jack Nicklaus, present a more typical challenge to what you will find throughout the rest of Florida. No matter which of the 45-holes you happen to play on the Grand Cypress property, you are sure to have a great time playing golf in Florida on these courses.
Tranquilo Golf Club
Located in Orlando, Tranquilo Golf Club is one of the best golf courses in Florida. It is unusual for the public to have access to such a high-quality golf facility, but that is the case with Tranquilo. If you are willing to pay the lofty green fees, you will have the opportunity to experience a golf course which is often considered a top 5 best golf course in Florida.
First, we should cover the topic of the greens fees. By any measure, this is an expensive golf course to play. Most days, you are going to spend more than $200 for your 18-hole green fee. That rate puts Tranquilo up in the same range as some of the most expensive tracks in the state. Fortunately, this course is able to live up to that billing. As long as your budget allows, you will likely come away from this experience feeling like your day was worth the money spent.
Built in 1992, Tranquilo is not the longest course you will ever encounter. At just over 6,900 yards from the back tees, there are tee box options for players of all skill levels. The course was designed originally by respected architect Tom Fazio, and Fazio returned in 2014 to update the layout. Bermuda grass is used throughout the property, which is located along with a Four Seasons Resort.
It is hard to pick one thing which stands out above the rest with such an excellent golf course. However, if you could pay only one compliment to Tranquilo, it would likely be the overall condition of the course itself. All golfers love playing courses which are beautifully manicured, and that is certainly that case with this facility. In this way, you get what you pay for when you come to Tranquilo. Yes, the greens fees are lofty, but that cost allows you to play on some of the best greens you will find in the Orlando area – or anywhere else, for that matter.
As a testament to the quality of this golf course, it recently played host to the first tournament of the Champions Tour season – the Diamond Resorts Invitational.
To clear up any confusion you have about this property, it is important to note that it was first opened under the name Osprey Ridge. Only in 2014, after it was enhanced by Tom Fazio, was it rebranded at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Orlando. For locals, this course is not only a daily fee property, but also a course where memberships are available. At a rate of more than $900 per month, it is possible for a family to have member access to this high-end facility. Included in membership is access to the practice facility, free use of rental clubs, a private locker, and much more.
When only the best will do, it will be hard to beat Tranquilo for a golf experience in the Orlando area. Greens fees at this facility are lofty to be sure, but that is to be expected when you get to play a course with such impressive design and conditioning. As a leading golf club in Florida, playing Tranquilo is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Club
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando is one of the top golf destinations in all of Central Florida. Of course, there is the appeal of the Ritz-Carlton name right off the bat, which tells you the accommodations are going to be first class. However, a serious golfer will be concerned first and foremost with the golf course itself – and this one is up to the task. The golf course goes by the name of Grande Lakes, and that name alone should let you know what kind of experience you are in for when you schedule a tee time.
The designer of this golf course is none other than Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman. As is the case with many Norman designs, one of the calling cards of Grande Lakes is the closely mow turf throughout the property. Rather than pestering golfers with long grass lining the sides of each fairway, Norman provides you with the chance to play some shots. You aren’t likely to find much long grass anywhere on this course, but you will still find plenty of challenge and interesting design. There are five sets of tees to pick from overall, with the longest set stretching out to more than 7,100 yards.
As you would expect from a premium facility, the conditions at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes tend to be top notch. In addition to the course conditions, most find that the customer service at this facility is hard to beat. To keep up in the conversation of the best golf courses in Florida, conditioning and service are must-haves – and this facility checks both of those boxes. Is this a top five best golf course in Florida? You will have to play it for yourself to decide.
In terms of greens fees, playing at Grande Lakes will set you back a similar amount to other popular Orlando-area options such as Tranquilo and Grand Cypress. Weekend rates can easily surpass $200, with the rate falling closer to $100 if you play in the afternoon or evening. This is not a discount course to be sure, but it is an experience that you don’t want to miss. Even if you can’t afford to play courses like this all the time, checking the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club off of your ‘to-play’ list will be worth the investment.
As an added bonus, this course is found within close proximity to the Walt Disney World Resort and other Orlando attractions. If you are in town with your family for a vacation, you can easily call this beautiful Ritz-Carlton facility home for the week. You will have access to a wonderful 18-hole layout right out your back door, and the family will appreciate the short ride to Disney World. Whether you play a lot of golf in Florida or this will be your first round, teeing it up at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes should be a thrill.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge
If you know anything about golf, you automatically connect the Bay Hill name with a legendary name in the world of golf – Arnold Palmer. Since 1979, the Arnold Palmer Invitational has been contested at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Mr. Palmer was the owner of the course from 1974 until his death. To be sure, Bay Hill holds a prominent place in the game because of its connection to one of the most famous players in the history of golf. For the average golfer, one of the best aspects of Bay Hill is the accessibility that it provides to players of all skill levels.
Usually, when playing a course that hosts the PGA Tour each year, the average golfer would be in over his or her head. That is not the case here. Yes, you could challenge yourself from the back tees which stretch to more than 7,300 yards, but there are plenty of other tee options. For instance, you could play the Red set of tees at less than 5,800 yards for a far less difficult test. Golf should be fun, after all, and Bay Hill allows you to enjoy yourself while being challenged at the same time.
Bay Hill might not be considered the best golf course in Florida, but it certainly is in the conversation, based on its history. In order to play this course, you are going to need to stay at the Bay Hill Lodge. The golf course is a private club which is not open to public play, unless you are staying at the Lodge. It is worth noting that many of the tee times are exclusively reserved for members, so you will need to plan ahead in order to secure a tee time for your stay. As soon as you have dates to play golf in Florida, be sure to contact Bay Hill to see when you might be able to get on the course.
Many great golf courses have a signature hole, and that is certainly the case at Bay Hill. The 18th is the hole which is going to get most of the attention on this layout, as it is an exciting risk-reward par four which has seen plenty of drama during the annual PGA Tour event. Players who go for the pin over the water just may be able to make a birdie, but even a slight error can cause the ball to wind up in the water instead. If you do get the chance to play a round or two at Bay Hill, make sure your nerves are still steady by the time you reach the last hole, because you are going to need them.
The Orlando area offers some of the best golf in the entire state of Florida, and Bay Hill is a course which regularly appears at the top of many lists. No golf vacation to Orlando will be complete without a stay at the Bay Hill Lodge and at least 18 holes at this legendary venue.
Playing golf at the beautiful Reunion Resort in Florida is an opportunity that any golfer would relish. Why? Simply look at the list of course designers that this facility has attracted. There are three courses to pick from at Reunion, and each was designed by one of the greats of the game. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson have each put their stamp on this facility by designing an 18-hole layout.
If you are looking for a place to play world-class golf on courses influenced by some of the true legends of the sport, you have found your destination. One of the first things you need to know about playing golf at Reunion Resort is that it is a full private facility. You will need to either be a member, or a guest at the resort, in order to play the courses. Assuming you are coming in from out of town to play at Reunion, this means you will need to book at stay at the resort along with your tee times. Be sure to play well in advance, as this is an extremely popular destination for golfers.
Let’s take a quick look at each of the three courses you will encounter at Reunion Resort. First, the Arnold Palmer Course. At just under 7,000 yards, this course has enough length to challenge accomplished golfers, and it also features dramatic elevation changes. As is the case with most Palmer-designed courses, there are wide fairways which make for a playable experience for golfers of all skill levels. In 2005, this course was included in America’s Top 40 New Courses, as determined by Golf Digest.
Moving on to the Tom Watson Course, you will find an even longer challenge at more than 7,100 yards from the back tees. In keeping with the type of game Watson employed as a player, this layout is all about strategy from tee to green. You will need to use all of your clubs effectively if you are going to get around this course with a good score. This layout was included in the Best New Resort Courses list by Golf Digest, also in 2005.
Finally, we get to the Jack Nicklaus Course. Many consider Nicklaus to be the greatest player in the history of the game, making it no surprise that countless golfers love to tee it up on his courses. Golf week included the Jack Nicklaus Course on the list of Best Courses You Can Play in 2010. The longest of the three courses, more than 7,200 yards of golf can await on the Nicklaus Course when you play the back tees.
If you have the chance to visit Kissimmee, Florida to play at Reunion Resort, do your best to take advantage of the opportunity. This resort features three great courses designed by three legends in golf. You are sure to have a great time!
Waldorf Astoria Club
The name Waldorf Astoria certainly implies a sense of luxury and quality right off the bat, and this golf destination lives up to that expectation. Designed by Rees Jones, this 18-hole layout is popular thanks to both its challenging holes and its natural beauty. If you like to play your golf in a peaceful, natural setting, you will love what you find at Waldorf Astoria.
One of the great features of this golf destination is the fact that you are able to pick a set of tees which will suit your abilities perfectly. Accomplished players will be able to step back to the ‘Black’ tees for a challenge of more than 7,100 yards. However, players with less experience or ability on the links will have plenty of reasonable choices to consider as well, with four other sets of tees included on the course. All tee boxes play to a par of 72, with the traditional combination of four par fives and four par threes.
You might expect to be in for some sticker shock with regard to greens fees at Waldorf Astoria, but that is not necessarily the case – depending on when you visit. Rates are less than $100 during the summer months, for example, which is relatively reasonable for a high-end golf destination in Florida. Also, as an added bonus, you do not need to be a guest at the resort in order to book a tee time at this golf course. Some of the other courses in the area require you to stay at their facility in order to play, so this is a nice feature.
In the big picture of the world of golf, the Waldorf Astoria Club in Orlando is a relative newcomer. This course just opened a few years ago in 2009, meaning it does not yet have the name recognition of some of the competitors. Don’t let that distract you from what is available here, however. This is an excellent golf course, and it is one which is appreciated by locals and visitors alike. Some even put it in the conversation for the best golf course in Florida, or at least in the Orlando area.
Getting back to a point which was made earlier, it should be noted that this course provides a connection with nature that is not found on many courses. Take a look at just a few pictures of this layout and you will quickly understand the beauty of this property. Of course, if you decide to stay on-site while in the Orlando area, you will be able to enjoy many of the other amenities which are offered in addition to the golf course. There is a spa, a pool, restaurants, and much more.
When trying to pick out which golf courses in the Orlando area you are going to visit during your vacation, be sure to give the Waldorf Astoria Club plenty of consideration. There is enough challenge here to entertain even an accomplished player, and the rest of the facility is top-notch, as you would expect. When playing golf in Florida, you won’t want to miss out on this gem.
Mission Inn Resort & Club – El Campeon Course
There are many great golf courses in Central Florida, that much is not breaking news. However, you may be surprised to learn that many of them are relatively new. During the golf ‘boom which occurred a couple decades ago, many golf construction projects were undertaken, leading to a long list of new resort courses for golfers to explore. There is certainly nothing wrong with those courses, but they do lack the history and heritage of an older course.
If it is history you are looking for, you have come to the right place. The El Campeon Course at Mission Inn Resort was originally built in 1917, a full 100 years ago. This makes the course one of the oldest in the region, and one of the most interesting as well. Where many Florida golf courses are perfectly flat, there is considerable elevation change throughout the El Campeon layout.
You might be thinking that El Campeon would be a rather short golf course, given that it is a century old. That is not the case. This water laden layout stretches more than 7,000 yards from the tips, and is quite a challenge for even an accomplished player. You will have a hard time finding a bad word about this course from the many people who have played it over the years. El Campeon is very much in the discussion for the title of the best golf course in Florida, and considering it a top ten best golf course in Florida is an easy choice.
While you are at the facility, you may want to play even more golf than your round on El Campeon. Fortunately, there is another course located at Mission Inn Resort as well, the Las Colinas Course. This course does not have near the history of El Campeon, but it is worth your attention just the same. Built in 1992, Las Colinas has big fairways and less severe elevation change when compared to the older Mission Inn layout. You will find a bit more yardage on the Las Colinas side, where the tips stretch to more than 7,200 yards.
If you are still on the fence about visiting Mission Inn Resort for a few rounds of golf, you might be convinced to make the trip by the modest greens fees. In many cases, rounds at this facility will be approximately half of the price of other courses in the region, making it a true bargain in the golf world. During the summer, you can often play for less than $50, which is a price that almost seems too good to be true.
To find Mission Inn Resort, you will need to head to the west of Orlando to reach Howey-in-The-Hills, Florida. If you decide to stay at the resort, you will find a large property which is peaceful despite being just a half hour (or so) from Orlando. There are a range of accommodations available on site, and plenty of recreational activities beyond the fairways. Have a great time!
Orange County National
Orange County National is one of the best known golf facilities in the state of Florida. There are three separate courses on the property, two 18-hole tracks and a 9 hole layout, as well as plenty of other amenities. If you are going to play any golf in Florida, and you will be in the Orlando area, it is an easy choice to stop by Orange County National for at least one round.
While Orange County National might not offer the best golf course in Florida, it certainly does provide some of the best golf in the Orlando area. The rates at this facility are relatively affordable when compared to other area options, and you can bank on excellent playing conditions from tee to green. This is a public golf facility, but you would never know it from the way the turf looks all around the property. If you are tired of bumpy greens and overall rough conditions, you should be impressed when you arrive at this popular Orlando golf spot.
To get better acquainted with the Orange County National facility, let’s take a look at the individual courses. First, the Panther Lake Course. This is a layout which stretches to more than 7,300 yards from the back tees, while playing only around 5,300 yards from the front set of boxes. Interested in setting a course record at the Panther Lake Course. Good luck! Since the PGA Tour has held many ‘Q-School’ finals at Orange County National, some outstanding players have graced these fairways. The course record is currently shared by two Q-School competitors at 62.
Moving to the other 18-hole layout at Orange County National, we find the Crooked Cat Course. This course is even longer than Panther, stretching to an impressive 7,400+ yards. Again, the influence of Q-School is felt on the course record, which is 61 on this side.
Looking to have a whole new experience on the golf course? A visit to Orange County National may be in store, as it is a facility which offers the use of Golf boards. What is a Golf board? Basically, it is a surfboard for the fairways. These are powered devices which carry your golf bag and a single passenger around the course with ease. Rather than driving a traditional power cart, you can ride along the way while enjoying the scenery all around the facility.
For those who are open to new ways to enjoy the golf experience, riding the Golf boards at Orange County National should be a top priority.
You won’t find many golf facilities around the world that offer the many opportunities presented by Orange County National. You can take on the challenge provided by two championship courses, you can use the large practice facility, or you can play the short nine hole layout.
Whatever you choose to do while at Orange County National, you are likely to have a great time in the process. Enjoy your visit to this public golf gem!