Southwest Florida is golfer heaven for anyone who enjoys playing a round of golf in the sunshine. Beautifully sculpted golf courses, many designed by top golfers, feature lakes, island greens, fountains, established hammocks of trees and beautiful natural Florida landscapes.
Southwest Florida has an estimated 150 golf courses with many more continuing to be built on new housing developments. In fact, the region has more golf holes per capita than anywhere else in the US, easily making it the Golf Capital of the World.
If you are fortunate enough to live on a golf course in the area, you may be able to play for free, as golf is included in the maintenance fee in some cases. Visitors to the area can expect to pay anything from $20 to over $200 for a round on a daily fee public or semi-private golf course. However, those enjoying the summer in southwest Florida will find green fee discounts are offered at many golf clubs. Playing early or late in the day is a good solution when the heat and humidity rise.
Along this 125-mile long stretch of Gulf Coast paradise, you will never be far from a public, semi-private, or private golf courses. The area runs from Bradenton, just south of Tampa, past Fort Myers, right down to Naples and beautiful Marco Island.
Must-Play Golf Courses in Southwest Florida
If you don’t know which golf course to pick, there are a few memorable must-play courses in the area.
The Old Corkscrew Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Estero boasts a 77.6 rating and 153 slope on the 7,393 yard course. Be prepared to encounter giant sprawls of sand and pine-edged wetlands at many holes. However, it is a bargain in the summer, with play starting at just $50, down from $179 in the peak snowbird season.
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa has rolling fairways lined with tall pines and serene lakes. Four-time golf champion Ernie Els claims it is the best tour course in Florida, so definitely one to put on the bucket list. You may need to save up for this treat, as a round costs between $140 and $245.
The resort also has a tough Island Course, where Phil Mickelson notably won the NCAA Championship in 1990.
Sarasota’s University Park Country Club 27-hole championship golf course is consistently rated the #1 golf course in Southwest Florida and one of the best in Florida. Golf Digest rates the Ron Garl-designed course as a four star facility. Each 18-hole combination presents totally different challenges so regular golfers can never become complacent on this challenging course.
Non-members of the Country Club can take advantage of the 3-day advance tee times and pay the daily fee. However, in peak snowbird season, full membership certainly has its advantages. Members have a 10-day advance tee time booking system and private carts are permitted with payment of trail fees.
Tiburon Golf Club in Naples may give players the feeling of déjà vu as it hosts Greg Norman’s Franklin Templeton Shootout which keeps keen golfers glued to the Golf Channel in December.
The 7,288 yard Gold Course has multiple hazards with many wetland areas and sandy wasteland lying in wait for those who stray from the fairway.
The Black Course is actually the most challenging. Once privately owned by the Ritz-Carlton is has more recently been opened to the public.
Arthur Hills and Hal Sutton designed Treviso Bay Golf Course, also in Naples. The 7,367 yard course demands strong play at this private members golf club which also permits outside play.
Other top golf courses in southwest Florida include Kingsway Country Club in Port Charlotte. Rated #1 by Money magazine as the best place to retire, the course is in a gated community but the 18 hole, par 72 course is open to non-residents.
These are just a few of the excellent golf courses in southwest Florida. With year-round sunshine, plenty of undeveloped space and a plethora of natural features, you really can’t beat playing golf in southwest Florida!