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 course 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 public 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: 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: 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: 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
    Contact:
    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 public greens.
    Other notable courses nearby: Coral Oaks Golf Club, Country Inns and Suites – Sanibel Getaway
    Established:
    1917
    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: 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.
    Established: 1926; redesigned and expanded from 9 to 18 holes in 1945
    Course designer:
    Dick Wilson
    Famous folks who’ve played here:
    Babe Ruth
    Contact: 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
    Established: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
    Events: St. Petersburg City Amateur Championship
    Contact: 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
    Contact: 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: 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 
    Established: 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
    Contact: wpalmbeachgc.com; 561-582-2019

     

     

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