By Tim McDonald
You may be looking for a place where the whole family can enjoy golf, not just mom and dad. There are plenty of family-friendly golf resorts in Florida. I've stayed and played at all of them at one time or another. Here are my top five picks.
1. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort always has family deals. For starters, there is the family golf package. The popular resort also offers junior golf programs year-round that allows kids under 17 to get various discounts, usually half the resort fee. It also includes unlimited use of the practice facility prior to play. Kids under 12 play free at the Baytowne course and get free use of rental clubs. Junior golf instruction and clinics - the whole family can take lessons - are also available. For the big boys, there are two great courses in Raven and Burnt Pine.
2. PGA Village
PGA Village in Port St. Lucie has the PGA Golf Club, owned and operated by the PGA of America. There are six courses in all, including the short course and the PGA Country Club. The short course is free, with holes ranging from 35-60 yards, and junior tees are available on all six courses. At the PGA Country Club, U.S. Kids Golf offers instruction and family tees of 2,200 and 3,750 yards, much shorter than the normal forward tees. The extensive PGA Learning Center has kids clinics and schools.
3. Origins Golf Club
Origins Golf Club is a six-hole regulation course, that also plays as a nine-hole executive course and a 10-hole, par-3 layout, using alternate tee boxes and auxiliary greens. It's an unusual course, designed by Davis Love's design company, that was created to "make golf more fun, accessible and attractive to families, beginners and casual golfers." It's short and non-penal. Resort packages are available through the lovely Watercolor Inn. For the adults, two of the best courses in northwest Florida are available, Camp Creek and Shark's Tooth.
Innisbrook is another very family-friendly golf resort in Florida, and has a Family Free Play package. You get to stay in a suite and kids under 12 get free breakfast and free golf, as well as tennis. The superb golf courses here all have family tees and then there is the Fox Squirrel course, a nine-hole family walking course where "no golf skills are required." I should play this course.
5. Omni Amelia Island Resort
Amelia Island Resort has 54 holes of golf, including a ton of other kids' activities. The resort has the Family Fun Package, where a $50 resort credit can be used toward golf, and other activities. There is also a kids' camp. The unlimited golf package offers unlimited green fees on Oak Marsh or Ocean Links, which has two forward family tees. The Ocean links course is so scenic, kids who learn the game will definitely want to keep playing.