In this blog post, we’re going to explore the best public golf courses in Melbourne, on Florida’s eastern coastline.

Its nearest major cities, include Orlando, just over an hour’s drive north west. And south, passing Vero Beach and Port St Lucie, is the popular West Palm Beach.

Melbourne as a tourist destination is seriously overshadowed by some of its neighbors. That also includes places like Cocoa Beach and Titusville further north, which is home to the Kennedy Space Center.

But Melbourne is just as worthy of a weekend trip, with miles and miles of beautiful beaches. It’s an intriguing city, split between both the Florida mainland and the barrier island just across the Indian River. More recently, it has become a major hub of high-tech businesses. 

The city has two downtowns. One the modern hubbub of the business district, and the other the quaint and charming historical one.

But without any further delay, let’s jump into the best public golf courses in Melbourne.

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

Best Public Golf Courses in Melbourne, Florida

Manatee Cove Golf Course

Manatee Cove Golf Course, Melbourne, Florida
Photo credit Kate Cole

It’s not often you get to play a golf course within the confines of an Air Force base. But that is exactly what is on offer here at Manatee Cove Golf Course. 

The course was designed by none other than Robert Trent Jones Sr and over the years it has enjoyed significant investment. New irrigation was added at the turn of the century and all the greens were completely rebuilt in 2007.

Being on the barrier island skirting the Atlantic Ocean, the ever-present hazard is of course water. It probably won’t surprise you that water comes into play on 17 of the 18 holes. Alongside this and the numerous ponds and streams is plentiful wildlife including turtles and of course alligators. 

Underrated and well-worth the visit.

Aquarina Golf Club

Aquarina Golf Club, Melbourne, Florida

This fabulous golf course is located on a barrier island within the luxury Aquarina community.

Complete with ocean-fronted homes and condominiums, this is quite an outstanding residential community. Add to this stunning beaches and access to the Indian River lagoon from expansive docks, you can see why it is so sought after.

Another reason this location is so unique, is it is part of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. As such the golf course is essentially a sanctuary to a variety of wildlife. Sea turtles, otters, ospreys, gopher tortoises, manatees and many other species roam freely.

The course itself is a par 62, so not the longest these days. But scenic to the highest measure.

Stretching from the Atlantic dunes to the Indian River, it passes sabal palms and mature oaks, whilst passing through pristine lakes and mangrove marshlands. 

See also: What are the best golf courses in Vero Beach?

The Habitat Golf Course

The Habitat Golf Course, Melbourne, Florida

Another course which is a haven for wildlife is the Habitat Golf Course.

It’s located within the Grant-Valkaria nature preserve, a 2,600-acre sanctuary which is home to a variety of habitats and subtropical species.

Open for play in 1991, the par-72 course winds its way through pine forests and wetlands. Compared to your typical Floridian courses, the terrain is relatively undulating.

Most fairways and greens feature mild elevation changes which keeps club selection front-of-mind. 

Although the fairways are relatively generous, hit it too far off-line and you’ll have lost your ball in dense undergrowth. Let’s just hope you haven’t hit one of the many gopher tortoises or scrub-jays which call this place home!

Baytree National Golf Links, Melbourne, Florida

A Gary Player signature course to the north of Melbourne, this is one of the finest public golf courses in Melbourne.

The club opened in 1992 and from the back tees it stretches to over 7,000 yards. Time and time again, Baytree National is recognised as the ‘Best of Brevard’, the area north of the city.

The routing is superb , with Player having ensured no two holes run parallel. The pristine fairways are lined by mature trees, smart homes and of course water.

Water is an ever-present hazard and is in-play on 13 holes. This includes carries over water, fairways lined by lakes and greens protected on numerous sides by the wet stuff. That said, despite the fairways featuring subtle moguls, they are generous in size and not too penal.

You’ll also encournter no less than 86 bunkers peppered around the course.

There really is no easy shot here, with split fairways and risk-reward doglegs on top of everything I’ve already mentioned. Don’t be surprised if you feel like a second visit is required to re-conquer some of your initial demons!

See also: What are the best golf courses in Port St Lucie, Florida?

Majors Golf Club

The Majors golf club, Melbourne, Florida

From one of the great players turned architect, to another. This time we look at an Arnold Palmer designed golf course, Majors Golf Club.

The course opened for play in 1999 and immediately became a firm favorite with the locals in Melbourne’s southern suburbs. It was so popular, there was even residents traveling up from Micco and Sebastian to play the course.

From the championship tees, the course stretches to just shy of 7,000 yards. When you consider the number of hazards to contend with, the back tees here are really only suitable for very low handicappers.

There are, however, five sets of tees to choose from. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the red tees shorten the course to just over 4,800 yards. So depending on your ability, it really is accessible to many different levels.

The wide rolling fairways are offset by large waste bunkers with water lurking ominously on many holes. This is a good course which happily welcomes guests.

UPDATE: As of 2022, the Majors Golf Club is permanently closed. I’ll update when I know more.

Spessard Holland Golf Course

Spessard Holland Golf Course, Melbourne, Florida, Permission Given - resized

Located on the barrier island south of Melbourne Beach, is the Palmer Enterprises designed Spessard Holland golf course. On one side is the Atlantic Ocean and on the other the Indian River separating the island from the mainland. 

Both Spessard Holland and The Habitat golf course mentioned earlier, are managed by one entity called Golf Brevard. It is a body founded with the sole purpose of preserving public golf in the county. Today these two golf courses are two of the finest public golf courses in the area.

Spessard Holland isn’t the longest by today’s standards, measuring just over 5,200 yards and having a par of 67. But sometimes length isn’t everything, and what it lacks in distance it makes up for in the surrounding landscape. 

This is like a mini-oasis flanked by water on both sides. It won’t come as a surprise water comes into play on many holes. And where water isn’t the main hazard, there are bunkers and lines of sabal palm trees. 

The holes lining the eastern side of the course will be the most challenging. You’ll inevitably have the Atlantic sea breezes playing havoc with your shot-making. Take solace from the fact you might spot the occasional pelican or dolphin.

See also: What are the best public golf courses in West Palm Beach, Florida?

Duran Golf Club

Duran Golf Club, Melbourne Florida

Positioned halfway up the coastline between Melbourne and Cocoa Beach, is the sublime and award-winning Duran golf club.

The layout here is links in style. It has wide driving areas, native grasses and mild contouring around the large rolling greens.

Water, like so many other golf courses on this list, plays an ever-present role. There is not one hole safe from the wet stuff. At times it feels like there is more water than actual firm land. So a healthy supply of golf balls is definitely recommended. That or cure your slice. 

Water on any hole often plays with your mind, but try adding strong coastal breezes from the Atlantic. At times this breeze can play such havoc, you’re looking at adding anything up to three clubs for some shots. 

The course here is renowned for its good condition. If you do visit however, play safe.

Other Golf Courses near to Melbourne Florida

Suntree Country Club

Suntree Country Club is one of the only private member-owned clubs in Melbourne. It has two wonderful 18-hole golf courses onsite. Although naturally, both are for the exclusive use of its members and their guests.

Right next to the Gary Player designed Baytree National Golf Links, Suntree is a minute’s drive from the Atlantic coast. It is also a 20 minute drive up the coast from central Melbourne.

The Classic Course was the original 18-hole layout. Back in the 80s and 90s it was one of the official tour stops for the Senior PGA Tour. And by playing the course, you can understand why. Inviting fairways and greens are offset by numerous bunkers and water hazards which come into play.

The second course onsite is the Arnold Palmer designed Challenge Course. Meandering through lakes, wetlands, marshes and canals, this is a stunning location and still an active wildlife sanctuary.

Like many Palmer courses, the attention to detail is superb. The fairways and greens feature gentle undulations with large defensive bunkers and water strategically placed throughout. 

Assuming you get invited, this is a great day out with a lovely clubhouse. 

Barefoot Bay Golf Course

Barefoot Bay Golf Course, Melbourne, Florida

Right in the heart of the Barefoot Bay Recreation District, the largest mobile home community in Florida, is the 18-hole Barefoot Bay golf course. 

This is a Joe Lee designed course, a man who throughout his 40 year career left his mark on hundreds of golf courses throughout the States. 

Here at Barefoot Bay the course is short, 3,689 yards from the back tees but scenic. This is about target golf, with small greens and narrow fairways.

What is the best public golf course in Melbourne, Florida?

The best public golf course in Melbourne, Florida, is the Gary Player designed Baytree National Golf Links. The club is located on National Drive, 15 miles north of central Melbourne along the Indian River.

How many golf courses are there in Melbourne Florida?

There are 7 golf courses in Melbourne, Florida, with a total of 15 golf courses within 20 miles of the city center.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply