An introduction to Florida
In this blog post, we’re going to list out some of the best golf resorts in Florida, broken down by the north, central and southern sections.
The Sunshine State as Florida is known, is home to over 1,250 golf courses, many of which are considered some of the best in the country. No wonder then this is such a popular destination for a golf vacation.
So where to stay if you are thinking of travelling to Florida for a golf trip?
Across the state there are some superb golf resorts, most of which have luxury accommodation, top-class facilities, ample dining and drinking options and of course, some high-drawer golf.
Let’s hope there is something here to inspire you.
The best golf resorts in north Florida
In the north of the Sunshine State, the state line runs from Pensacola in the west on the Gulf of Mexico, through the Blackwater River State Park. It runs past the cities of Panama City and Tallahassee, right across to the Atlantic Ocean and the vast city of Jacksonville.
It is around Jacksonville where all three of our northern golf resorts are located.
Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa
Just a 30 minute drive from downtown Jacksonville in the upmarket Ponte Vedra Beach area, is the sensational Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort.
This is one resort where regardless of how good the accommodation is, it will always be overshadowed by the golf onsite. There are two golf courses at TPC Sawgrass; Dye’s Valley and of course the iconic Stadium course. The latter is the host venue to the annual PLAYERS championship and a course nearly every golf fan will recognize.
Aside from having a golf course ranked within the world’s top 100, this is a superb golf resort.
As you would expect from a Marriott hotel, this is luxury five star accommodation. There are over 500 rooms on site of which there is a choice of waterfront guest rooms, suites and two-bedroom villas.
The vibe here is modern, sleek and sophisticated and this flows through into the recently renovated spa. Nineteen treatment rooms, private pool, fitness centre and nail salon are all there to be enjoyed.
There are ample dining options with the pick of the bunch being the laid-back Sharkey’s down at the Cabana Beach Club, which has fantastic views of Ponte Vedra Beach and serves classic American cuisine.
This is one of those classic Florida golf resorts where you can literally follow in the footsteps of the pros.
World Golf Village Renaissance
Another resort just over a half hour’s drive from central Jacksonville, but this time in the direction of St Augustine, is the World Golf Village. Here you’ll find a few different accommodation options.
The most popular is the beautiful AAA Four-Diamond Renaissance World Village Resort. The hotel offers 301 colonial style guest rooms with all the mod-cons you would expect.
Another popular choice includes the Grande Villas. This consists of a range of one and two bedroom villas with onsite amenities including BBQ grills, fire pits, fitness rooms, hot tubs and more.
There is so much to do here including visiting the neighboring World Golf Hall of Fame. It has more than 70,000 square feet of trophies, displays and professional memorabilia to enjoy. Or simply practice your game at the PGA Tour Academy.
There are also two outstanding golf courses to choose from including the ‘Slammer & Squire’, a Bobby Weed project co-designed with Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. Alternatively, why not try the ‘King & Bear’, the only golf course in the world jointly designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and rated one of Florida’s top golf courses.
This really is one for lovers of golf history and a group of friends looking for something fun and unpretentious.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
For this luxury five star resort, we drive northeast from downtown Jacksonville towards the idyllic location of Amelia Island.
This is an immensely popular tourist destination renowned for its stunning natural beauty. There are long sandy beaches framed by perfectly formed sand dunes and ample wildlife.
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is one of the ‘creme-de-la-creme’ resorts here, the best of the best. With unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean, there are numerous oceanfront villas and accommodations to choose from, all of which are the ultimate in luxury.
There are two top-class golf courses onsite, of which resort guests can play the fantastic Pete Dye designed Oak Marsh. Unfortunately, the second course, Tom Fazio’s Long Point, is exclusively reserved for members. But trust me, Oak Marsh is a course you’ll want to play again and again.
The impressive leisure facilities consist of a large outdoor pool and an indoor pool perfect for lane swimming. there is also a luxury spa which offers a range of signature services from psammo therapy healing methods to couple’s massages.
There are plenty of dining options with no less than ten restaurants to choose from. These include the superb Verandah, a casual restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes. And good old Bob’s Steak & Chop House, which shouldn’t need too much explaining.
The best golf resorts in central Florida
When I refer to central Florida, I’m really talking about the middle section which runs from Tampa on the Gulf Coast, through to the epic city of Orlando. This is right in the heart of the state.
This unique golf resort has something no other resort in the world can lay claim to; three golf courses individually designed by three greats of the game. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson,
Reunion Resort is located just south of Orlando, literally 10 minutes from the airport, and within a 10 minute drive from the likes of the Walt Disney World Resort and downtown Kissimmee.
This is a huge complex and not ‘hotel-like’ in any way, shape or form. Instead of the traditional hotel rooms, guests get to enjoy golf-side villas and apartments with awesome views across the estate.
There are six restaurants and bars to choose from, an onsite water park, fitness centre and tennis courts as well as ten pools to enjoy. This really is your quintessential resort.
Of the dining options I would recommend The Grande 7593 Chophouse, which is an upmarket steakhouse but also serves sensational seafood, which it has delivered daily.
There is genuinely so much to do here, it is so much more than just a golf resort. This really is perfect for a family getaway, with golf just one of many things to do here. And trust me when I say, it is pretty good golf!
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge
So few places embody one single person like the world famous Bay Hill does with Arnold Palmer. The resort initially started as a project by a group of investors who hired Dick Wilson to design the course. It wasn’t until in the late 1970s that Palmer decided to purchase the property.
These days, this charming retreat is ideal for a golf vacation with 70 comfortable lodges, a fitness centre, a superb spa, pool and tennis courts. You really get to enjoy the member’s perks here.
There are two restaurants with the Grill & Classic Rooms the main dining option, complemented by the more casual Bay Window. This has the best view in the house overlooking the famed putting green and Rolex clock.
From a golf perspective, there are 27 holes onsite of which the main 18-hole Challenger & Champion is the host venue to the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. Normally a member’s only course, it can be enjoyed by Lodge guests as can the outstanding practice facilities which would put many a golf club to shame.
From a location standpoint, you’re really in the heart of it all. Just a half hour from Orlando airport and literally 10 minutes from the likes of Universal Orlando Resort, Harry Potter Wizarding World and so many more of the great theme parks.
This outstanding golf resort opened in 2014 and the word ‘special’ doesn’t quite do it service.
Set within a secluded plot of 16,000 acres far from the urbanized world and major cities of Orlando and Tampa, Streamsong Resort is a purpose built golfing mecca. This is raw unabridged golf with nature at its heart.
The hotel is sleek and modern with mid-century architecture. A minimalist style runs throughout but don’t be fooled, it is still incredibly luxurious. There are 228 spacious and stylish guest rooms and suites overlooking the stunning surrounding landscape.
Hotel facilities include the divine infinity pool which overlooks the lodge lake. There is also a sensational spa, built in a European grotto style and includes nine treatment rooms and therapy pool experiences.
Dining at the resort is an experience in itself, with a number of different restaurants and bars to choose from. The superb Sotto restaurant features Italian fare whilst the Restaurant Fifty-Nine at the Streamsong Red/Blue clubhouse offers an enticing selection of hand-cut prime steaks and seafood.
And of course to the golf. Three outstanding golf courses designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak and Gill Hanse of which all three are rightfully considered to be in Florida’s top 10 golf courses. The ex-phosphate mining site features delightful elevation changes, dramatic landforms and undulations with pristine lakes.
This is without doubt one of the finest golf resorts in Florida, some would argue the world.
Innisbrook Golf Resort
On Florida’s west coast a mere stone’s throw away from Crystal Beach Pier, are the 900 acres of woodland within which the Innisbrook Resort is located. Although the surrounding area is primarily residential, Innisbrook itself feels like an oasis of nature.
Innisbrook features a number of low rise condo-style lodges that overlook the resort, and of course feature all the mod-cons to be expected these days. The Salamander Spa is impressive, with nearly 12,000 square feet of dedicated indoor and outdoor space. There are twelve treatment rooms and a 4,000 square foot fitness centre.
There is not a huge quantity of dining options, but what they do have is quality. The two main options are the Market Salamander Grille which offers quick bites. Or alternatively, Packard’s Steakhouse on the Copperhead Course, which as the name suggests specialises in the finest aged premium beef steaks as well as local seafood specialities.
There are four superb and highly rated golf courses onsite. But it’s the Copperhead Course which receives the accolades and is the host venue to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. As a guest at the resort, no course is off bounds.
The best golf resorts in south Florida
For south Florida, we’re referring to Fort Myers on the Gulf of Mexico down through Naples to the Everglades. Whilst on the east coast, south of Port St Lucie along the Treasure Coast, through West Palm Beach and down to Miami.
Ritz Carlton Naples, Tiburon
North of Naples on the road to Fort Myers, take a right just after Pelican Bay and you’ll get to the exquisite resort of the Ritz Carlton Naples, Tiburon.
In all just three miles from the Gulf of Mexico, this is a sumptuous location with shimmering lakes and tropical palm trees. In addition, the surrounding landscape, specifically where the two golf courses are laid out, is Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary certified.
The large and spacious guest rooms are immaculate and modern in style, with most of them overlooking the Tiburon golf course.
As you would expect from a luxury five-star Ritz Carlton, there are some top class facilities. The intimate spa has three treatment rooms, with also a steam room, sauna and state-of-the-art training facilities.
As a guest you have the option of Latin American cuisine at the new restaurant Ria, American bistro-style food at Lemonia as well as a couple of other options and bars.
The Tiburon golf club is onsite and has two fantastic Greg Norman designed golf courses to choose from. Both are sensational, of which the Black course, characterized by swathes of pine trees and a multitude of water hazards, is considered one of the Top 50 golf courses in Florida.
PGA National Resort & Spa
For this entry, we jump from west to east coast, specifically from Naples over to sunny West Palm Beach. And here is the world-renowned PGA National Resort & Spa, one of the most popular golf resorts in Florida.
Located within Palm Beach Gardens, home to the PGA of America, the PGA National Resort has a whopping six, yes, six championship golf courses (well, five with one nine-hole). This is golf on steroids.
The sensational George and Tom Fazio designed Champion course is the host venue to the PGA Tour’s annual Honda Classic event. And rest assured, the other courses are all superb and will offer a great test for any standard of golfer.
The resort recently underwent a substantial renovation to the tune of $100 million! Now, the 300 plus guest rooms are spectacular, with upgraded amenities and a number of tech enhancements.
The renovation also stretched as far as the Spa, of which the 40,000 square feet were redesigned by an award-winning interior design firm.
The PGA National Resort is simply awesome. And with the recent multi-million dollar renovation, it will only cement its place in the higher echelons of U.S. golf resorts.
JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa
So to the last on the list, and we finish with a bang. The stylish JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa is outstanding and oozes luxury on every level.
To the north of the glitz and glamour of Miami and barely a mile from the Atlantic Coast, the Marriott Turnberry resort is an oasis of green surrounded by the residential areas of Golden Beach. Within the 300 acres are lush tropical gardens including a 100-year old Banyan tree and a sanctuary for 40 species of tropical birds.
The resort opened over half a century ago and was the vision of businessman and investor Don Soffer. Jump forward to today and we find Mediterranean inspired architecture, marble walkways and fountains. There are spacious suites and rooms all elegantly designed.
For the foodies out there, you’ll enjoy the BOURBON Steak restaurant, which serves signature cuts of prime meat. Add to that local seafood and a selection of over 1,000 wines.
There are other options including the casual Surf House Bar & Grill, a popular option post golf. And of course like every luxury resort, the exquisite spa is a haven for beauty and wellness.
As for the golf, there are two championship courses onsite, the Soffer, named after Don himself, and the Miller, of which both were originally designed by the great Robert Trent Jones Sr. As a testament to the quality here, the Soffer course has hosted over the years both PGA and LPGA tournaments.
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