Top-Five Residential Golf Courses in Florida

    By Tim McDonald

    Houses are funny things to golfers. They like to live in them -- as opposed to say, tents, caves or under bridges -- but many golfers don't like to encounter them when they play golf. Probably because they're scared of hitting them and having to pay for damages.

    It's also funny that some great golf courses are built in residential areas and developments, which doesn't necessarily mean you can't play them. Here then are my top-five residential golf courses in Florida:

    1-- Black Diamond Ranch. The Quarry course at Black Diamond Ranch is probably the most unusual golf course in Florida, looking like a mountain course in the West. Fairways drop and climb, slither and creep, and basically do things that fairways in Florida simply don't do.

    2 -- The Ocean course at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast is one of my favorite courses anywhere. No fewer than eight holes play along the Atlantic. There's also a superb and difficult Tom Watson design.

    3 -- The Reunion Resort in Orlando boasts three terrific courses designed by three golf legends, Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson. I've played all three courses and they're all excellent, particularly Independence. If you tend to favor perfectly manicured courses, you'll love Palmer's Legacy course, with the preternaturally white sand bunkers contrasting sharply with the deep green fairways.

    4 -- Shark's Tooth. You'd never know you were in a development as you wind your way around this course on the scenic shores of Lake Powell in Northwest Florida. The 734 acres of coastal sanctuary is gorgeous and the course is fun and playable, even from the back tees.

    5 – Old Marsh in old Palm Beach. They don't have "houses" here, they have "estates." There are 180 of them surrounded by 456 acres of nature preserve. Architect Pete Dye did a masterful job of blending the houses in with the course, which opened in 1988, and is in turn surrounded by wetlands.