An introduction to Venice, Florida
In the southwest of Florida overlooking the Gulf of Mexico is the delightful city of Venice. And in this blog post, we’re going to explore some of the best public and private golf courses in Venice.
But Venice stands its ground and is arguably one of, if not the most beautiful city on the Gulf Coast. Miles upon miles of golden beaches which are up there as some of the best in the country.
Clearly this is Florida, not Italy. But Venice has more in common with its Italian namesake than just a name. Both cities are built on a network of waterways and canals and Italian architecture inspired many of the buildings downtown.
Coming to Venice and not visiting a beach would be a travesty. And the beach of choice is of course Venice Beach. This is quite simply one of the most magnificent beaches worldwide.
Yet assuming you do have time to visit a second, make sure you swing by Caspersen Beach, also known as ‘The Shark Tooth Capital of the World’. Due to the complex currents just off the shore, huge numbers of shark teeth get washed up onshore just waiting to be picked up by beachgoers.
The best public golf courses in Venice Florida
Calusa Lakes Golf Club
Just under a 15 minute drive north of Venice, in the neighborhood of Nokomis, is the popular Calusa Lakes Golf Club.
In contrast to many other Floridian golf courses, Calusa Lakes bills itself as a woodland course. This is due to the many mature oaks and pines which are dotted all over the site. It definitely doesn’t feel like a traditional Florida golf course.
The wooded terrain weaves through an environmental community with many homes lining the fairways, yet not close enough to encroach on the play.
What does however remind you of playing a Florida golf course are the many lakes which line the spacious fairways. So much so, there are just a handful of holes where water doesn’t come into play.
Despite this, the course is open to all levels. The fairways have generous landing areas and the greens aren’t penal. This is a thoroughly enjoyable round of golf for a really affordable green fee.
Waterford Golf Club
Literally minutes from downtown Venice heading east towards Interstate-75, is the semi-private golf club of Waterford.
The course opened for play in 1989 designed by the seasoned architect Ted McAnlis.
The course is set within a large residential community which inevitably means many fairways are lined with houses. At times this can arguably deter from the golf infront of you. But for the large part, there is often enough vegetation, or instead the housing is set far enough away not to detract.
The fact there is an abundance of natural wildlife and greenery is definitely one of the positives and helps to soften the edges. Another really positive feature is the fact no two holes run parallel to one another. At no point do you feel crowded.
With 27 holes onsite, you have the choice of which 9-hole layouts to conquer; Gleneagles, Turnberry or Sawgrass. All three are relatively equal in terms of the challenge and feature wide rolling fairways with ample water hazards a constant threat.
Lake Venice Golf Club
Consistently voted as the ‘Best Public Golf Course in Venice’ this is a wonderful layout to come and play.
Lake Venice Golf Club has the perfect location right on the Gulf Coast with stunning scenic views. Very few courses will top this for location.
It is also a welcome surprise not to have any housing lining the fairways. Call this ever-present housing a curse, call it a reality, call it whatever you want. But here at Lake Venice, it is just you, the golf course and nature.
There are 27 holes onsite, all designed by Mark Mahannah. Whilst in 2013 an architect under the name of Jan Bel redesigned the stronger holes 19 to 27. The course is challenging enough to keep you on your toes, but not too difficult to have you cursing.
This is good fun, enjoyable golf at really affordable rates.
Jacaranda West Country Club
Closer to South Venice and located in Venice Gardens, is the ever-popular Jacaranda West Country Club. This is a member’s club, but proudly open to the public. And it has very much been this way since the club opened its door in 1975.
The architect Mark Mahannah, who has worked on so many golf courses in Florida, was responsible for the initial routing.
And then more recently, in 2004, the talented Chip Powell was tasked with renovating the layout. This was partly to upgrade the course and make it more aligned with the needs of the game in the twenty-first century.
And this has clearly worked a treat. Jacaranda West consistently gets plaudits for its incredible condition. Time and time again, golfers leave delighted with the overall condition.
Yes, there is housing. But there are also glistening lakes and ample greenery, giving the site a serene ambience. You’ll also notice plenty of wildlife here which is a welcome distraction.
Considered as the ‘Best Place to Play’ in Sarasota and Port Charlotte, you won’t be disappointed. Golf rates vary but you can easily play here, at decent times, for $50.
The best private golf courses in Venice, Florida
Pelican Pointe Golf & Country Club
From central Venice, head down East Venice Avenue. Take a right onto Pinebrook Road, and you’re pretty much at Pelican Pointe.
The club is consistently recognised as one of the best golf and country clubs in the Venice area and alongside the golf, hosts all the facilities you would expect at a luxury country club.
This is a majestic location just perfect for unwinding. The 1,000 acres feature protected wetlands which are also a wildlife preserve. Water is everywhere. You simply can’t escape it. And this translates to the golf course where there is just one hole where water doesn’t come into play.
There are 27 holes onsite, designed by Ted McAnlis, with all three loops of nine being equally competitive. The fairways weave through the residential community and the natural preserves.
Clearly, you need to be hitting the ball straight here. An off day from the tee and boy you’ll need a lot of balls! The fairways are relatively generous, whilst the greens shouldn’t
This is without doubt one of the finest country clubs within close proximity to Venice.
Venetian Golf & River Club
On the fringes of the Myakka River State Park, is the wonderful Venetian Golf & River Club. This is as far east from downtown Venice before hitting wild untouched Florida wetlands.
It is these wetlands upon which the course was built, whilst also being located within a private residential community with upscale housing overlooking most of the fairways.
This is a course which has received plenty of recognition despite only opening in 2003. On a handful of occasions, Golf Advisor has garnished Venetian Golf Club with praise. Amongst the recognition, it was ranked one of the Top Courses in Florida.
This might be a step far, as one thing Florida is certainly not short on is quality golf courses. But it certainly is a top class layout. Chip Powell, a man who has his name against many courses on the Gulf Coast, was behind the layout and he certainly made water the predominant feature.
So much so, there are a mere handful of holes where water isn’t in some way, shape or form playing on your mind. This includes carries from tee boxes, lakes running the length of the fairway, or water sitting in front of, or lurking ominously behind the green.
There are, however, an impressive eight tee choices on each hole. So regardless of your ability, the course can be enjoyed.
The Venice Golf & Country Club
This is Venice’s only private member-owned golf and country club, in an idyllic site a mere 5 minutes drive from downtown.
The country club has all of the amenities you would expect, with tennis courts, wellness facilities, a grand clubhouse which overlooks the 18th hole, and to finish the sumptuous golf course.
Designed by Ted McAnlis and opened for play in 1990, this is a challenging golf course which is impeccably maintained.
In 2015 it benefited from a $2.5 million revamp which included re-grassing all the fairways, tee boxes and greens….no small job! Yet once again in 2022, the course underwent further renovations. This time focusing on the roughs, cap rock, wooden bridges and various other parts of the course.
Like many of the courses on this list, water is a consistent hazard, except that is, on the 1st hole, which starts things off softly. But as the round goes on, it gets more demanding and you will encounter many of the 26 lakes!
This is golf in Florida epitomized and one of the finest private golf courses in Venice!
Mission Valley Golf & Country Club
Yet another course up in the neighborhood of Nokomis, approximately 15 minutes north of Venice, is Mission Valley Golf & Country Club. This is a private course, owned by the members, and is in impeccable condition.
This really is a wonderful plot of land, 200 acres of mature trees and elegant lakes. The course was designed to be walked, with tees close to greens. As to be expected on a Floridian golf course, there is very little elevation, another reason to enjoy the walk.
The course was originally designed by David Wallace and opened for play in 1967.
Over the years, further renovations have continued to improve the layout. Like for example in 1997 Ted McAnlis was brought in to oversee a major renovation with another significant upgrade happening in 2018, which included regrassing the whole course and restructuring the bunkers.
This is enjoyable golf – you won’t come here and walk away deflated or defeated. The fairways encourage you to get out the big dog, with wide landing areas leading to wonderful greens. An enjoyable day out.
Plantation Golf & Country Club
This epic club has 36-holes of championship golf on site designed by the legendary golf course architect Ron Garl. There is the Bobcat 18-holes which opened for play in 1982, and the Panther layout, which itself opened in 1987.
This is a private club, which prides itself on offering a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Members and their guests can enjoy a range of facilities including a top class restaurant.
Like so many of the country clubs and courses on this list, you’re just a short drive from both the Gulf Coast and Venice’s downtown.
This is a huge plot of land with both courses weaving through a premier gated community. As you would come to expect, there is plenty of housing surrounding both courses, but there is enough vegetation and buffer to negate its presence.
This is also the proud home of the LPGA Annual Tour Qualifier, with the first event being played here back in 1988. Both courses are in fine condition, maintained year-round to the highest standards.
Sarasota National Golf Club
Sarasota National is just a 15 minute drive from central Venice, but it feels so much further from the city. This huge site is a preserved wetlands area, also an Audubon Certified Sanctuary.
The Sarasota National course plots its way through vast lakes with at times, nothing but a fairway and water on both sides. There are courses with water, yet here it feels like there is water and a course, in that order!
It is a relatively new layout, having opened in 2008. It was designed by Gordon Lewis, a man whose architectural career has largely kept him on Florida’s west coast.
The course has serenely undulating fairways, whilst the green complexes and bunker shapes are beautifully sculpted. You can tell plenty of time and attention went on making this aesthetically pleasing.
Clearly every course has its off days, but the condition at Sarasota National is regularly superb. It is no wonder it is widely considered one of the best golf courses in Venice.
What is the Best Golf Course in Venice Florida?
The best golf course in Venice, Florida, is the Gordon Lewis designed Sarasota National Golf Club. The course is located 15 minutes south of central Venice and is located in a huge wetland preserve.
How many golf courses are there in Venice Florida?
There are a total of 68 golf courses within a 20 mile radius of Venice, Florida. Whilst 17 of those golf courses are in close proximity to Venice downtown.