The Top-Five Florida Golf Resorts

By: Tim McDonald

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What are the top-five Florida golf resorts? Ask 10 people, get 10 different answers.

I've been to pretty much every golf resort in the state as a journalist and critic and here's my list. Before I hear any howling out there, let me say my criteria is different from say, Golf Magazine, which just listed two Ritz-Carlton golf resorts as the tops in the state.

Nothing against the Ritz-Carltons – they are world-class resorts -- but my criteria for this list is different.

Quantity. Quality. Parking lots.

I like a golf resort with courses crawling all over the zip code. That's why most of the resorts on my list have so many courses you could wear out your putter on a single trip and never miss a putt at the same hole.

1 – Innisbrook. Four courses, including the Copperhead, one of the best in the state, and the Island, one of the most scenic in the state. The others are no slouches, either.

2 - Reunion Resort. Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson. The Palmer course in particular, the Legacy, is bright and pretty as a new penny. The golf at this resort combines challenge and playability as well as any resort I've been to. No marquees here. They're all excellent.

3 - PGA National Resort and Spa. A whopping five courses. You can be masochistic and get pummeled by the Champions and the next day go out and feel the love at the Palmer. And you're just starting. They don't trick up these tracks -- this is Florida golf: flat, watery and fun.

4 – Doral. I just love the classic, Florida feel. You feel like Jackie Gleason could pop up any time with a martini in his hand. The Blue Monster is the lead dog here, but the Great White is as lovely as a 300-yard drive into that blue, south Florida sky.

5 - Orange County National. What, only two courses? What happened to your criteria, Golf Boy? Well, rules are meant to be broken and I just love this place. I love the spartan feel to the lodge: no fancy check-in, no huge water fountain in the lobby. It's well away from the Orlando attractions. Sleep, eat, golf.

You walk out of your room in the early morning, stumble across the parking lot and encounter a driving range big as all outdoors. And the two courses are exceptional. It's mecca for the hard-core golfer. There. Questions?

Honorable Mention: Grand Cypress, Sandestin.
 


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