Miami Sports

Why Florida's golf courses attract players from around the world

Florida’s golf courses offer everything from breathtaking views to tricky hazards

Florida’s golf courses are where the sport’s rich history and promising future unite. It is believed to have started when John Hamilton Gillespie made his way from Scotland to the U.S. in 1885. Before long, he had moved to Sarasota, Florida, and by 1886, he had created a couple of holes on his estate to enjoy his favorite game.

While we don’t know if this was the first golf course in the U.S., it certainly marked the beginning of Florida’s devotion to the sport. If Gillespie developed the first golf course in Florida, several others eventually nurtured its growth.

Florida’s year-round sunshine makes it ideal for the many championship courses it boasts, many of which were created by illustrious names in the game’s history. Golfers from all over the world flock to the many luxurious resorts and picturesque golf courses in Florida. 

The following Florida golf courses, complete with rolling hills, rich foliage, and breathtaking waterfronts, are a testament to the state’s popularity as the golf capital of the world:

Tournament Players Club (TPC) Sawgrass

TPC at Ponte Vedra, home of The Players Championship, is widely regarded as one of the finest golf courses in the world. This is also where you’ll find TPC Sawgrass, the epicenter of golf in Florida and the hub of the TPC Network. The site features immaculate fairways, tricky courses, and top-notch amenities. There are two championship courses here, both of which have ranked highly on the world's best golf courses lists.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando is a great course to play if you want to test your golfing skills and improve them. Greg Norman, two-time winner of the British Open, designed this course with attention toward maintaining the area's natural marshes, stunning oaks, and cypress trees. Carefully positioned obstacles and spacious landing places make this a tricky yet steady favorite with golfers, while the expansive fairways and scenic views make for a delightful game.

A person playing golf.

Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin

The Kelly Plantation Golf Club is widely regarded as one of the most aesthetically pleasing courses in Northwest Florida and it’s easy to see why. This 18-hole semi-private golf course was once a turpentine plantation and now overlooks Choctawhatchee Bay.

It spans over 7,000 yards of lush fairways, carefully placed hazards, breathtaking vistas, and clever tee names. The view from Hole No. 4 of the bay and the surrounding magnolias is breathtaking, so make sure you take your time and look around.

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando has been the golf legend’s winter residence since the early 1970s, and it spans 270 acres on the banks of the Butler Chain of Lakes. The Champion, Challenger, and Charger links at this luxe resort offer 27 holes of tour-caliber golf and draw thousands every March for the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. Beginners and pros alike will enjoy this course, and guests can even spend the night in the cozy lodge, which is filled with artifacts from Arnold Palmer’s career.

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