If you live in the land of ice and snow from November through March, you've earned a winter golf getaway. Nothing worse, though, than getting away to rainy-cool to rainy-cold weather. If you're buying in to the respite from the chill, go hard and all the way. We've assembled a list of popular, fun, warm & sunny places that are guaranteed to melt the freeze in your limbs, joints and heart, and get you through to spring. First up is Florida.
If we break the Sunshine state into segments, there are six distinct areas that merit consideration. From the Panhandle in the northwest, to the 3 unique cultures of the east coast, to the magical middle, to the west coast, Florida is many things to many people. Let's be frank: when you leave for the tropics, you want to do more than golf. For that reason, we've left two of our favorite places to golf, off this list. World Woods and Streamsong are spectacular places for golf, but each requires a drive to get to what's happening.
Pick the spot that best suits your personality and your needs. With that in mind, let's get down to business!
Is the Panhandle really Florida? Those in Tallahassee might shake their heads "no," but it does have an FLA zip code (18 of them, to be precise.) West of the state capital, by about 2 hours, is Miramar Beach. Located on a spit of a strand of idyllic, beachfront land, Florida's MB is home to the Sandestin resort. All those kids love this area for Spring Break, but you'll love it for the opportunity to get away from the snowmen. With 4 golf courses from which to choose, variety will spice up your southern swing.
We chose the Sawgrass resort for the 36 holes on-site, including the world-renowned TPC course and its island green at the par-3 17th hole. There is a great deal of reciprocity among resorts and courses in the Jax Beach area, and we wanted a place that had multiple courses, all it's own. When you watch the Players Championship each March, not only will you tell your friends what you shot on each hole, but you will reminisce about the holes on the Valley course as well.
Much tougher than Jax Beaches to choose the perfect spot. We considered Orange County National and Shingle Creek, but opted for the place with just a bit more golf, along with a bit more pampering. Grand Cypress is also super-close to the land of the famous mouse, if theme parks fit into your plans. You won't miss out, though, at any of these three possibilities.
Always a bit edgier than other parts of FLA, Daytone Beach is super-awesome golf and motorcycles and space travel and the LPGA international headquarters. There are no pure golf resorts in the environs, but that's fine. Gets you out and about, to see a bit of the region. For golf, we chose the LPGA International club. Built for the game's top professionals, with the headquarters on site and the world-famous Daytona Speedway just across the fairways.
How do you pass up access to 5, on-site golf courses? No, you don't, you can't, and you won't. PGA National hosts the Honda Classic during the PGA Tour's Florida Swing each spring, and that's no small endeavor. If the world's finest come here for their livelihood, that's confirmation. Four other courses, ranging in layout, challenge and fun-meter, await after you've had your fill of the Championship course. If you need to be in Miami, head to Turnberry. Beyond that requirement, West Palm won't do you wrong.
Fort Myers can be tricky, the first time you stop by. There's the city proper, of course. There's also Sanidbel Island, connected to the mainland by a long bridge or many boats. Much like Daytona Beach, you won't find multiple golf courses on your hotel property, so pick a spot that gets you close to the water, to the action, or to the golf. Fiddlesticks, Estero and Old Corkscrew are some of the more challenging course in coastal, southwest Florida. Given the number of northerners who choose to retire in the region, there are many more courses to fit your game and your budget. For lodging, we went with Sanibel Harbour. Still mainland, but right on the H2O.