An introduction to Jacksonville

For so many reasons Jacksonville is considered the beating heart of golf in the Sunshine State. Maybe because of the quality of golf courses in Jacksonville which we’ll explore here.

And that statement is despite the formidable challenge of places like Naples, Tampa, Orlando and the Treasure Coast stretch of coastline north of Miami. 

But here in Jacksonville, Florida’s First Coast, it is home to the mighty Sawgrass. This is the Sawgrass where they hold the annual PLAYERS Championship.

The PGA headquarters is just up the coast in Ponte Vedra Beach. Whilst down in St Augustine is the World Golf Hall of Fame. On top of that, there are just under 70 golf courses, many designed by some of golf’s most renowned architects.

See also: What are the best golf courses in Florida?

Downtown Jacksonville is vibrant, eclectic and abundant in things to do. The seat of Duval County, Jacksonville is the most populous city in the state and is just over a half hour’s drive from the state line with Georgia to the north.

The city has some gorgeous river walks along St John’s River where you might even spot a dolphin or two. There are miles upon miles of unspoilt coastline with beaches galore. Amelia Island, just north of the city, is a popular stop off for tourists with likewise many beautiful beaches and some amazing native wildlife. 

There are so many reasons to visit Jacksonville aside from just golf. Although let’s be honest, it’s the golf we’re here to talk about. So let’s dive into some of the best golf courses in the area.

The best golf courses in Jacksonville Florida

Timuquana Golf Club

For a century Timuquana has been delighting its members and their guests within its charming club walls. It has a smashing little parcel of land right on St John’s River as it flows into Jacksonville. On the other side of the road the Tillie K Fowler Regional Park. 

This is a course which over the years has had many a makeover. In its earliest iteration, it was the work of the famed Donald Ross. More recently the likes of Robert Trent Jones Sr, George Cobb and David Gordon have all come and left their mark on the course. 

However it wasn’t until Bobby Weed came along that the course really started to shine. Weed’s work was the first to resemble the initial Donald Ross design and playability was improved. This is a tree-lined course with rolling fairways, tight approaches and immaculate greens. 

Although one of the oldest courses in Florida, since the recent renovation work by Bobby Weed, it has slowly regained its notoriety and climbed the ‘best of’ courses lists. In 2002 it hosted the USGA Senior Amateur Championships, a climax which represents where the course is now.  

Amelia Island Plantation (Long Point)

Amelia Island - Long Point Golf, Jacksonville, Florida

Located on the southern tip of Amelia Island is the formidable Amelia Island Club, an upscale community resort. On one side it has the Atlantic Ocean and on the other the north marshes of the Florida Intracoastal highway.

This is a delightful part of the world skirting the boundaries of the Amelia Island Plantation. This 1,350 acre plot has maritime forests and marshes sitting next to miles of beautiful beaches.

There are two superb courses onsite, the Oak Marsh and the Long Point. Designed by Tom Fazio, Long Point is the one which gets the plaudits and opened for play in 1987.

It has tight rolling fairways meandering through thick oak trees and a pine forest. Running alongside the beautiful oceanfront it has vast deep marshes.

There is a real variety of holes. ‘Stand on the tee hit dead straight’, as well as tricky dog-legs where pin-point golf is required. Alongside the numerous natural waste bunkers and mounded fairways, there are eight holes where you’re required to tee off and carry vast water hazards.

Unlike many of the top golf courses in Florida, despite being a member’s club, Amelia Island is open to guests. Stay over at the 5 star Omni Amelia Island Resort just south of the club.

World Golf Village (King & Bear)

King-Bear course at World Golf Village, Jackso

This absolutely unique course is a gem co-designed by two of golf’s iconic players, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. In fact, it is the only course in the world to have been co-designed by these two players. And what a blast it is. 

It is called the ‘King & Bear’ based on the nicknames afforded to Arnold and Jack during their playing careers. For this project, the two designers put any lingering rivalry aside to design this fantastic course. Today the King &@ Bear is considered one of north Florida’s best golf courses.

With two distinctive styles, the front nine is more links in style with open yet rolling fairways. The second nine harks to more typical Florida style golf. Wide expansive fairways lined by century old oak trees, indigenous coquina rock, loblolly pines and water. 

At over 7,000 yards from the back tees, this is a driver’s paradise. The open fairways will set you up for precision approach shots. Last bu not least, make sure you visit the World Golf Village post-round. 

Ponte Vedra Golf Club (Ocean)

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Jacksonville, Florida

The Ocean course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, is an institution of golf in the Sunshine State. Hugging the Atlantic Ocean it is a blissful resort with 36-holes of golf onsite as well as numerous other facilities and leisure options. 

Originally designed by the British golf course architect Herbert Strong, the course has over the years undergone various other facelifts, with the most recent one happening in 2019 by Bobby Weed, called upon once again after renovations made in 1998. This time however, the changes were more significant. 

There were changes in routing, there was a brand new practice facility, every tee box was rebuilt, every green was touched up and all this for the meager sum of $10 million dollars. 

With the new tees the course can now be extended to just shy of 6,800 yards. There are multiple water hazards, large bunker lined fairways and fast revamped greens. The iconic 9th hole with its island green pre-dated the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course by many years, one of the first of its kind. 

Pablo Creek Club

Photo credit to Sam Weber

Just to the south east of Jacksonville close to the Atlantic Coast is the emblematic Pablo Creek golf course, not far from the Atlantic Ocean and hidden away next to the Intracoastal Waterway. This is an outstanding golf course and was back in 1999 ranked amongst the Top 100 golf courses in the U.S. by Golf Magazine. 

Open for play in 1996, this Tom Fazio design weaves through copious swamps and wetlands as well as natural pine forests and thick undergrowth. The course essentially meanders through and around water hazard after water hazard, which are full of their fair share of alligators so don’t bother looking for stray shots.

The course is located next to the exclusive gated community of Pablo Creek Reserve and along the same lines the golf club is also very private and strictly members only. Getting a round here will require befriending a member.

TPC Sawgrass (Dye’s Valley)

It is a curse for so many great golf courses. To be part of the same golf club as a more highly regarded sibling. And so befalls such a fate to the Dye Course at TPC Sawgrass. Its sibling happens to be the Stadium course, considered one of the world’s Top 100 golf courses. This is quite a shadow to step out of.

Yet Dye’s Valley is such a wonderful experience, it is deservedly up there as one of Florida’s best golf courses.

Measuring just short of 6,900 yards from the back tees, it is certainly no push over. The various tee options ensure this is approachable for all standards of golfer. Likewise, the same impeccable condition afforded to the Stadium course is also apparent here.

Having played host to several Korn Ferry Tour events, the course is lined with numerous water hazards. There are just as many, if not more carries over water to contend with, than the Stadium course. If you are onsite at TPC Sawgrass, ensure you afford the time and due respect to Dye’s Valley.

Bent Creek Golf Club

Bent Creek Golf Course, JAcksonville, Florida

A welcome break amongst all the private members’ courses is Bent Creek, a premier public golf course. Located just to the south west of the city, it is awesome value and fun to play.

Designed by the well respected Bobby Weed in 1989, the course runs through the idyllic Jackson Heights terrain. Towering pines, creeks, and plush fairways make this course so popular in the region.

The landscape within which the course runs is an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Essentially certified protected, ensuring every care is taken to preserve the environment at its optimum level.  

The use of Bermuda grass ensures this championship course is always in optimum condition. This is even more-so since the recent renovation works to reestablish all the playing surfaces. And at just over 6,600 yards, all are welcome here.

TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)

TPC Stadium Coursem Jacksonville, Florida
Photo credit Steve Racine

The sibling which earns all the plaudits. The sibling which is ranked as one of the world’s Top 100 golf courses. The sibling which plays host to the annual PLAYERS championship. Yes, this is the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass. 

This iconic course has made a name for itself by hosting the infamous tournament many consider as the fifth major, the PLAYERS championship. So many, if not all of the world’s greatest players, have graced the fairways here. And no doubt many of those have had their scorecard ruined by one of the myriad challenges.

It is long, at well over 7,000 yards; it is tough with numerous carries over water, narrow fairways and lightening fast greens. And it has a rather well-known all-in par-3, the notorious 17th hole. The island green is literally surrounded by water with no lay up possible. This is entertainment golf at its best.

What is the best golf course in Jacksonville?

The best golf course in the city of Jacksonville, north Florida, is the superb Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass. The course is the host venue to the annual PGA Tour event, the PLAYERS championship and was designed by Pete Dye.

Completing the top 3 for best golf courses in Jacksonville is the member’s course at Amelia Island Plantation, the Long Point, as well as the King & Bear course at the World Golf Village.

How many golf courses are there in Jacksonville Florida?

There are 40 golf courses in the greater Jacksonville area, within twenty miles of the city, with the majority of these being private golf courses.

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