In this blog post, we’re going to explore some of the best public golf courses in Jacksonville.
Many people consider Jacksonville to be the beating heart of golf in the Sunshine State. And that statement 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 TPC Sawgrass. This is the where they hold the annual PLAYERS Championship.
The PGA headquarters is also 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.
The best public golf courses in Jacksonville, Florida
|1||TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course)|
|2||TPC Sawgrass (Dye’s Valley)|
|3||Ponte Vedra Golf Club (Ocean)|
|4||World Golf Village (King & Bear)|
|5||Amelia Island Plantation (Long Point)|
|6||Bent Creek Golf Course|
|7||Windsor Parke Golf Club|
|8||Jacksonville Beach Golf Club|
|9||Hyde Park Golf Course|
1. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course)
We kick off this list of the best public golf courses near Jacksonville, with the iconic, spectacular Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
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.
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.
2. 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.
3. Ponte Vedra Golf Club (Ocean)
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.
4. World Golf Village (King & Bear)
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 public 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.
5. Amelia Island Plantation (Long Point)
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.
6. Bent Creek Golf Course
Bent Creek Golf Course is one of the finest public golf courses in Jacksonville. It is located to the south west of the city in Jacksonville Heights, and is immensely popular for good reason. Awesome value and being great fun to play are just two of them.
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.
7. Windsor Parke Golf Club
You kind of feel sorry for Windsor Parke Golf Club. On one side you’ve got the sensational Tom Fazio designed Pablo Creek Golf Club. On another, the iconic Marsh Landing Country Club. Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club follows as does the luxury Jacksonville Golf & Country Club.
And nestled in the middle is Windsor Parke Golf Club, an informal, unpretentious public golf course. But maybe that is one of the reasons it is one of the most popular public golf courses in Jacksonville?
Surrounded by so many private clubs, Windsor Parke offers some welcome relief in a location which is easily accessible from both downtown Jacksonville and the beaches.
The club opened in 1990 and was designed by the hugely prolific Arthur Hills. Hills designed countless courses throughout his career, both across the U.S. and abroad, with many considered as the best in state.
Windsor Parke and the private The Palencia Club are, however, the only two close to Jacksonville.
On this project, Hills has crafted a delightful layout. Plenty of sculpted fairways meander through the wetlands endemic to this region. As to be expected, water comes into play on many of the holes, so ensure you have plenty of balls in the bag.
In a nod to the quality here, Windsor Parke continues to be chosen to host various qualifying events. These include ones for the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur and various U.S. Senior Amateur events.
8. Jacksonville Beach Golf Club
Nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, Jax Beach Golf Club (as it is commonly known) has been a staple on the Jacksonville golf scene.
It is owned and operated by the City of Jacksonville Beach and is approximately a fifteen minute drive north of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Having opened in 1959, the course was originally designed by the late Sam Snead. Snead knew the area well and was responsible for the superb Slammer & Squire course at World Golf Village in St Augustine.
What was originally a 9-hole course, was expanded to 18-holes after being purchased by the City of Jacksonville Beach. Yet it was the significant renovation which happened in 2018 which really elevated Jax Beach to the next level.
The renovation project was led by Harrison Minchew, formerly part of the highly respected Palmer Design. Very little was left untouched. New fairways, rebuilt greens, new irrigation systems using reclaimed water, removal of water hazards…you name it.
Following this work, Jax Beach Golf Club has received huge acclaim and is firmly recognised as one of the best municipal golf courses in Jacksonville.
9. Hyde Park Golf Course
This is one of the oldest public golf courses in Jacksonville and also in northern Florida.
Located just to the west of the city, Hyde Park Golf Club opened way back in 1925. This was during a period where the city of Jacksonville was flourishing and seeing tremendous growth. Although a lot of that development was going east towards the coast.
Not far from St John’s River, this Donald Ross gem was once a mainstay on the PGA Tour, albeit back in the 1940s and 1950s. Way before the PLAYERS Championship existed, Hyde Park Golf Course was for many years where the Tour stopped in northeast Florida.
The course has a majestic feel to it, littered with tall palms, Southern pines and elegant Spanish oaks. Over time, these have continued to mature adding to the established feel of the 129 acre plot.
Privately owned, the owners continue to invest to ensure Hyde Park offers visiting golfers the best possible experience. As well as continued investment into the playing conditions, they’ve also improved all the practice facilities, with a full range, chipping and putting green on offer.
What is the best public golf course in Jacksonville?
The best public golf course in 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.