Tee Up at Florida's Public Greens

From the historical Bobby Jones courses in Sarasota to the original home of the PGA in Dunedin, Florida’s municipal golf courses offer a variety of challenges and venues.

Boasting such “designer labels” as Donald Ross, Arthur Hills and Dick Wilson, municipal golf courses are a true Florida treasure, thanks to pros and staffs dedicated to seeing that golfers from toddlers to professionals have a great time on the greens.

And a bonus: The Florida scenery is free at these reasonably priced courses and includes the Intracoastal Waterway, Ravine Gardens State Park and Miami Beach’s historic skyline.

Bobby Jones Golf Courses, Sarasota

Not one, but three courses make this 325-acre complex a golfer’s dream. Shaded by live oaks, the 18-hole par 71 American Course for short gamers features contoured Bermuda greens. Long hitters are at home on the 18-hole par 72 British Course with elevated greens and multiple bunkers. Four tee stations on both courses accommodate all skill levels, and on-course amenities include concrete cart paths and yardage markers. Beginning golfers can hone their skills on the 9-hole, par 30 Gillespie Executive Course.
Established: 1927; 9 holes added in 1984
Course designers: Donald Ross and Ron Garl
Famous folks who’ve played here:
Bobby Jones, of course, and Babe Ruth, Babe Zaharis and Gene Sarazen
Contact: www.bobbyjonesgolfclub.com; 941-955-8097

Clewiston Municipal Golf Course

Professional golfers and professional bass fishermen know this family-friendly 18-hole course is the only one in the country where you can fish for bass in Lake Okeechobee and still have time for a game of golf, all in one day.
Established: 1929; 9 holes added in the early 1960s
Course designers: Stiles and Van Kleek
Famous folks who’ve played here: Tom Watson, Bob Murphy, Lawrence Taylor
Contact: www.clewiston.govoffice2.com; 863-983-1448

Dubsdread Golf Course, Orlando

The layout offers a challenge on all holes, but the 4th, a par 4, has been rated by the USGA as the most difficult on this newly renovated course.
Other notable courses nearby:
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Eagle Creek Golf Club, Celebration Golf Club
Established:1924; redesigned in 2008
Course designer: Mike Dasher
Famous folks who’ve played here: Ben Hogan, Sam Sneed
Contact: www.golfdubsdread.com; 407-246-2551

Dunedin Country Club

History is what brings golfers to the original home of the PGA of America. The Donald Ross design and Mini-Verdi greens keep them coming back for more.
Other notable courses nearby: Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa.
Established: 1927; redesigned in 2007
Course designer: Donald Ross
Famous folks who’ve played here: Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jug McSpaden, Bobby
Jones, Gene Sarazen, Babe Zaharias, Peggy Kirk, Louise Suggs, Babe Ruth
Events: Qualifying round, PGA Senior Club Championships; Senior Qualifier U.S. Open
www.dunedincc.com; 727-733-2134

Fort Myers Country Club

Walking is encouraged anytime on this tree-lined course featuring 6,421 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par 71 course. Birdwatching golfers get a bonus as friendly ibis frequently stroll along the greens.
Other notable courses nearby: Coral Oaks Golf Club, Country Inns and Suites – Sanibel Getaway
Course designer: Donald Ross
Famous folks who’ve played here: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, George McNeill, Lee Janzen, Nolan Henke
Events: Coors Light Open
Contact: www.cityftmyers.com; 239-321-7488

Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course

The view is spectacular from all 18 holes on this par 70 course on the Intracoastal Waterway. Ocean breezes make it more of a challenge than its 6,100 tip-to-tail yardage would indicate. Enjoy more of the view from the clubhouse and the Lagoon Sports Bar & Grill.
1926; redesigned and expanded from 9 to 18 holes in 1945
Course designer:
Dick Wilson
Famous folks who’ve played here:
Babe Ruth
www.lakeworth.org; 561-582-9713

Mangrove Bay Golf Course, St. Petersburg

Golfers looking to improve their game will find PGA professionals on staff, plus practice greens. This course saves the best for last. Its long par 4, 18th hole is played around a lake. Cypress Links at Mangrove Bay offers a challenging 9 holes for all playing levels.
Other notable courses nearby:
Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Club
1979; renovated in 1998
Course designers
: William Amick, Gary Koch and Rich Robbins
Famous folks who’ve played here:
Davis Love, Bob Costas, Paul Azinger, Kenny Perry
St. Petersburg City Amateur Championship
www.st.pete.org/golf; 727-893-7800

Miami Beach Golf Club

The Miami Beach skyline rises above the tree-lined greens and water views of this course, originally developed to lure wealthy winter residents from the North. The signature par 3, 17th hole is particularly challenging as it’s almost always played against the wind. But don’t count out the 11th, a long par 4 right dogleg.
Other notable courses nearby: Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Doral Golf Resort and Spa
Established: 1919; redesigned in 2002
Course designer: Arthur Hills
Famous folks who’ve played here: Matt Damon, Don Shula, Jim Brown, Bruce Fleisher, Lawrence Taylor
www.miamibeachgolfclub.com; 305-532-3350

Palatka Golf Club

This course is less than 6,000 yards long, but the signature Donald Ross “turtleback” greens provide an unexpected challenge for a course this size. The setting is part of the attraction, as it borders on Ravine Gardens State Park.
Other notable courses nearby: Grande Villas at World Golf Village, St. Augustine
Established: 1925
Course designer: Donald Ross
Famous folks who’ve played here: Tommy Aaron, Bob Murphy, Fuzzy Zoeller, John Daly, David Toms,
Greg Norman
Events: Florida Azalea Amateur
Contact: www.palatkagolfclub.com ; 386-329-0141

West Palm Beach Golf Course

In contrast to Florida’s flat terrain, this Dick Wilson course’s signature 7th hole is a par 3 on an elevated green. Practice your swing at a full driving range and large putting area.
Other notable courses nearby: Boca Raton Resort and Club, The Breakers Palm Beach
1921; moved to present location in 1947
Course designer: Dick Wilson
Famous folks who’ve played here: Arnold Palmer, Gay Brewer, Julius Boros, Doug Ford
Events: West Palm Beach City Championship, West Palm Beach Charity Classic
www.wpalmbeachgc.com; 561-582-2019

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