I get asked all the time, what is my favorite golf course in the area…and what golf courses do I usually play? First of all, I play a large number of local golf courses. We have so many quality courses that I enjoy the variety. It doesn’t help my score to putt on different greens every time I play, but that doesn’t matter to me. I want a different course every time I go out.
I’ve never been able to choose just one course as my favorite. Instead, I have what I call a “top shelf” of local courses that I think are the best for golfing in Tampa Bay.
So that leads to my “top shelf” of Tampa Bay golf courses.. as an added qualifier, they have to be courses that anyone can play if you can afford it. So that’s why you won’t find resort courses like Innisbrook or Saddlebrook, or private clubs like Avila, Tampa Palms, or Countryside CC on this list. All great courses but you have to be a member or a paying guest of the resort. You can’t walk on off the street and play.
If you want some more practice on the driving range, Tampa Bay Downs offers some great prices on range balls starting at $6.00 for a small bucket, and you can enjoy some horse racing or poker too!
Cheval Golf & Athletic Club | Lutz
Located in Lutz, Cheval offers gorgeous greens in a semi-private championship course. Their club also offers many features for the whole family including junior golf, junior tennis and swim, an arcade, playground, summer camp, and a variety of fun family events.
FOX HOLLOW | Trinity
This course, in Trinity, has always been one of my favorites since it opened in 1994.. a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, every hole is a challenge, the greens are the best in the area, always in terrific condition. Current rates $42.50 Monday through Friday until 2 p.m. with lower rates into the day and weekends and holidays at $52.50 until 2 p.m. and lower later in the day.
LAKE JOVITA | Dade City
These 36-hole residential courses in Dade City, Pasco County, ..were off my list this summer because of deteriorating conditions, but I recently played the South Course and it was in excellent shape.. a Tom Lehman/Kurt Sandness design, striking elevation changes, fast and tricky greens, very scenic..
STREAMSONG | Bradenton
This 36-hole masterpiece almost didn’t make my list, just because of the high price to play and the remote location, in the middle of nowhere in southern Polk County. Tom Doak designed the Blue Course, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed the Red Course.. there is nothing like it in Florida, dramatic elevation changes, constructed around phosphate mines, some extreme wildlife (like a 14-foot gator I saw on my last trip there). A third course, Streamsong Black opened in 2017 and is an intense Par-73 championship course including the Gauntlet, a two-acre putting course, and the Roundabout, a free-flowing 7-hole practice area.
TPC TAMPA BAY | North Tampa
The only TPC course in the area has been a favorite since it opened in 1991, in Lutz.. a Bobby Weed/Chi Chi Rodriguez design, hosted the Outback Pro-Am for many years, challenging holes, always in great shape, difficult but true greens. They have public rates starting at $75 and reduced rates for Florida residents and juniors.
WORLD WOODS | Brooksville
This 36-hole complex in Brooksville just might be my favorite in the Bay Area, a design from world-renowned Tom Fazio, two great golf courses Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks, plus a 9-hole short course, with practice holes, and a world-class practice facility. There are no homes at this club, it is extremely quiet, it’s just golf, and a place where you can get lost in the beauty of it. In the summer they offer reduced rates as low as $30, which for the quality of golf, is dirt-cheap.