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This is my updated list of the top 10 golf courses and resorts in Florida. At one time or another, I have visited all of them. In fact, I have visited more than 100 of Florida's golf resorts, from one end of the state to the other, which numbers more than 1,300 total.
That being said, I have developed my own list of the top 10 golf resorts in the state. Please bear in mind that these are my personal choices and, yes, I have left Walt Disney World off the list—the courses are great, but the resorts are too crowded for my taste. Enjoy!
Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Spa - Ponte Vedra Beach
As far as Florida golf resorts go, they don’t come much better than the Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Spa at Ponte Vedra Beach in northeast Florida. Marriott claims it’s “the perfect marriage of sun, sea, sand and golf,” and it’s tough for me to disagree. The resort is a combination of worlds within a world. Moss-draped oaks, sweet-smelling magnolias, warm sunshine and balmy breezes that waft across the beaches.
There's also a diversity of wildlife, pools and golf courses—the famed TPC Sawgrass and Dye's Valley Courses—to make the Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Spa a veritable paradise on the outer reaches of Greater Jacksonville. It's right up there, folks.
PGA National Resort & Spa
I chose the PGA National Resort and Spa for several reasons, one of the main being its terrific golf courses, including the Champion, home to the PGA TOUR's Honda Classic. I have visited the resort three times, and I've never had a bad experience. It's family friendly, golf oriented (of course) and one of the best managed and well-kept facilities of its kind that I've ever come across. I highly recommend it, its golf courses, and its facilities.
Trump National Doral Miami, Florida
Trump National Doral, formerly Doral Golf Resort and Spa, joins the list at number three. I love Doral, the home of the World Golf Championship. I now have a couple of visits under my belt. It's an amazing golf destination, famous for its magnificent Blue Monster golf course. But, as we all know, there's more. The Blue Monster is a championship golf courses at Doral Golf Resort, along with the Silver Fox Course (formerly known as the Jim McLean Signature Course), which opened in 2010 to rave reviews.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is a unique destination, upscale and opulent, that offers a extraordinary level of service unique to the brand. Here you'll find a luxury 584-room Ritz-Carlton and deluxe 1,000-room JW Marriott, and an 18-hole Greg Norman designed championship golf course featuring the Golf Caddie-Concierge Program. There's also a 40,000-square-foot spa and extensive meeting facilities. Grande Lakes is not only ideal for a golf getaway, it’s also a great family destination and an ideal venue for corporate outings. Guests at both hotels have access to all the facilities at the resort.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples, Florida
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort enters my list at number five. This is one of the state's most popular golf and beach resorts with its excellent golf course designed by Robert Cupp. The resort offers a variety of high-end amenities, including its magnificent stretch of Gulf Coast beach, beautifully landscaped grounds, a spa, and BALEEN naples, one of the best dining experiences in the Southeast.
Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast, Florida
Hammock Beach Resort in Florida comes in at number six. Highlights include luxury accommodations, world-class dining, a full-service luxury spa, tennis courts, miles of beach, a water park and, of course, its two magnificent championship golf courses: The Conservatory Course–Tom Watson; The Ocean Course–Jack Nicklaus. All of this makes the Hammock Beach Resort an obvious choice, not only for a golf getaway, but for a family vacation, honeymoon, or corporate convention.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Fernandina Beach, Florida
The number seven spot is occupied by the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort located in extreme northeast Florida. Nestled among centuries-old Live Oaks, a maritime forest, and vast tracts of salt marshes on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Island Plantation is an old-world luxury resort with an AAA Four Diamond designation. A world-class facility, it stands on 1,350 pristine acres overlooking the blue waters of the Atlantic to the east and the beautiful marshlands of Intracoastal Waterway to the west.
World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida
Number eight on my list of top golf resorts in Florida is World Golf Village in St. Augustine. Not only is it one of the best in Florida, it's also one of the world’s most popular golf vacation destinations. Home to World Golf Hall of Fame, World Golf Village is located just to the south of Jacksonville on Florida's northeast coastline–the Palm Coast.
Saddlebrook Resort, Tampa Bay, Florida
I include Saddlebrook Resort at number nine mainly because of the lasting impression it had on me. Saddlebrook Resort's course is conveniently located at the center of the complex next to the guest accommodations, restaurants, spa and Superpool. The course is a lush world of evergreen fairways set in a quiet hammock of cypress and oak. Gators and turtles, Blue Herons, Wood Storks and White Egrets compliment the natural beauty of the Florida foliage and adjacent ponds.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, Florida
Tiburon is an old-world golf club turned Ritz-Carton resort, and it comes with all the amenities you would expect to find at such a facility. Beyond all of its superb amenities, however, Tiburón's main attraction remains its two superb golf courses, the Gold and the Black, both designed by golf legend Greg Norman. The courses feature unique stacked sod wall bunkers, coquina shell waste bunkers and the absence of conventional rough. Greg is well-known for his commitment to the environment, and to maximizing the natural beauty of the land upon which his designs are built.