In this blog post we explore the best golf courses in Gainesville, Florida. We’ll look at the best public and private courses on offer.
Located in northern Florida, the city is just over an hour’s drive from Jacksonville, and under two hours from Orlando.
Positioned in the picturesque Alachua County, Gainesville is growing in popularity.
It is renowned for its dynamic blend of natural beauty and cultural diversity. For example, it is home to a number of art galleries, music venues and outdoor recreational spots.
Gainesville is also home to the University of Florida, and buzzes with youthful energy.
With easy access to all major highways and with its Gainesville Regional Airport, this is a trip you’re sure to enjoy.
When it comes to golf however, there isn’t a huge amount of choice. Yes Florida is a golfing mecca. But it seems like Gainesville has somehow missed the memo. That said, let’s jump into the best golf courses near Gainesville.
The best public golf courses in Gainesville, Florida
Ironwood Golf Course
To kick off our list of public golf courses in Gainesville, is the fun layout of Ironwood Golf Course.
Located to the north west of the city in the heavily wooded Ironwood neighborhood, the course has been around since the mid-1960s.
It was designed by David Wallace, who built a steady reputation in the state of Florida throughout the 60s and 70s.
Ironwood grew steadily as being one of the most popular courses in the city, and enjoyed an extensive renovation in 2010.
The architect Mike Beebe, a huge advocate of making public golf affordable and fun, was commissioned along with MacCurrach Golf to oversee this major project.
New greens were built, as were tee boxes and bunkers. Irrigation was installed as were new cart paths whilst a number of trees were also removed. This was a transforming project and today, the club continues to reap the benefits of this work.
The layout offers a real variety of holes, with a number of wide and narrow fairways. A handful of large lakes come into play as do snaking creeks cutting through fairways.
Undeniably, this is a course any level of golfer would enjoy. But it remains challenging enough for the lower handicap players. All-in-all, the best of both worlds.
It is owned by the City of Gainesville, who continue to both invest in the course and ensure it remains affordable for the everyday golfer.
Turkey Creek Golf Course
The course which was reborn. Genuinely! Turkey Creek Golf Course is like a phoenix from the flames, having been closed for business back in 2011.
This is despite for many decades having been an incredibly successful and popular club. Yet for various reasons, it went bankrupt and closed its doors. It was effectively dead and buried.
And this is where the story gets interesting.
To cut a long story short, the club was revived by a group of volunteers.
Through hard work, gritted determination and self-belief, over a number of years they slowly but surely transformed the derelict fairways and rundown infrastructure into a feasible business proposition. The club reopened its doors some ten years later and is now alive and well!
If you want to read more on this particular event, I thoroughly recommend reading the article on Golf Digest entitled Miracle at Turkey Creek.
Today the club is managed professionally and enjoys a thriving and engaged membership.
Some of this success must also be accredited to the location. The club occupies a verdant 1,100 acres circa twenty minutes north of central Gainesville. It is also partially located in the stunning San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.
And back in 1978, when the club first opened its doors, this beautiful parcel of land was clearly one of the reasons which inspired Norwood Hope to invest in building the course.
The highly respected architect Ward Northrup was called upon to oversee the project, creating a 6,570 yard offering. Narrow fairways are one of the main challenges, with water also coming into play on a handful of holes.
This really is a fairytale story, with the heroes being a group of common volunteers. Yet rest assured, this is no pity project. At its heart is a quality and affordable golf course well worth the visit.
Gainesville Golf & Country Club
I’ve added Gainesville Golf & Country Club to this listing of best public golf courses in Gainesville. But the reality is at the time of writing, the course is closed and shows no sign of opening any time soon.
This is a great shame and one can only hope a similar feat might be achieved here as happened at Turkey Creek.
Gainesville Golf & Country Club has a rich heritage having opened back in 1921. Over the years it has benefitted with input from some of the most respected golf course architects of their era.
For example, George Cobb in 1963 and more recently, in 1992, Mark McCumber oversaw a thorough course renovation and modernisation.
Yet speak to locals and sadly the course has slowly but surely slunk into a state of disrepair. To the point where at the time of writing, the course is still shut.
In better times, you’ll find a fantastic layout, brimming with wildlife. Live oaks flank fairways whilst the routing takes you through majestic woods and swampland.
The elegant semi-private course was always one of the most popular in the city, offering a country club proposition. Tennis courts, a swimming pool, full service bar and restaurant as well as driving range were all at the disposal of members.
Let’s hope that someone sees the potential in reinvigorating this once great country club.
Best private golf courses in Gainesville, Florida
Hawkstone Country Club
To the west of the city lies the top class and high quality Hawkstone Country Club.
Formerly known as Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club, it changed names in 2021, largely thought to be due to the negative connotation to the word ‘plantation’.
Regardless of the name, if you do get the opportunity to play here, you’ll enjoy a superb Gary Player course. Player was commissioned to design the layout here which opened in 1993.
Alongside the championship standard golf course, you’ll find an array of other desirable amenities. Five floodlit clay tennis courts with two hard courts at the fitness center, as well as a swimming pool.
Yes there is a 5,000 square foot clubhouse, but the Gary Player designed 18-hole layout is without doubt the main attraction.
It’s not the longest course by today’s standards, measuring just over 6,500 yards from the back tees. Yet it’s a tricky layout which requires good course management.
The fairways weave through the glorious landscape dotted with majestic live oaks, dogwoods and plum trees. Without doubt the finest golf course in the city of Gainesville.
Mark Bostick Golf Course
The other on our list of the best private golf courses in Gainesville, is the Mark Bostick Golf Course.
Situated right next to the University of Florida campus, this is their home course. It is here the Gators golf teams come to practice and hone their game.
Over the years, the university has produced its fair share of well-known PGA Tour stars. Chris DiMarco, Billy Horschel, Matt Every and Mark Calcavecchia to name but a few.
And the course has some impressive pedigree. It was designed by no less than Donald Ross, one of the most influential architects of all time, opening in 1921.
That said, this may have been a Ross course back in the day. But these days, it should really be known as a Bobby Weed course.
Weed was engaged in 2001 to completely revitalize the course, modernizing all aspects of the layout. This renovation project cost more than $4 million and elevated the Mark Bostick Golf Course to another level.
From the back tees the course measures just over 6,700 yards. Strategically placed bunkers, defined contours and water all combine to ensure the routing remains a decent challenge for the modern golfer.
It may occupy a tiny 116-acre plot, but boy does it pack a punch.