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|With its five courses, including the famed Blue Monster, Doral is Florida's kingdom of golf. (Courtesy Doral Resort and Spa)|
Florida might be the most golf-crazed state in the union, brimming with golf courses of virtually every size and description (except for "mountainous") - more than 1,200 of them, a number that will keep growing until they run out of land.
Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Palm Harbor: Located outside Tampa, this four-course resort is a personal favorite. The excellent Copperhead course is the Innisbrook's best play; the Island course is almost as difficult and more scenic.
Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Doral: Though technically located in the namesake town, Doral Golf Resort is classic Miami. You half expect Don Johnson to pop in, wearing shades and loafers without socks. Doral has five courses, more than any other south Florida resort, but its crown jewel is the Blue Monster, one of the most storied courses on the PGA Tour.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Orlando: The Grand Cypress got Jack Nicklaus to come around, and he didn't leave until his stamp was all over the place. The New Course at Grand Cypress, modeled on the Old Course at St. Andrews, features all of Nicklaus' favorite Scottish design themes. The nine-hole North, South and East courses round out the golf options.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples: About three miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, this is an especially good choice if you want to be on the edge of wilderness, in this case the 10,000 Islands and the Everglades.
Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island: Sitting on northern Florida's Atlantic cost, this is arguably the state's most picturesque golf resort, set amid towering, moss-draped oaks and coastal beauty.
Walt Disney World, Orlando: The Mouse is no golf slouch with 99 holes, including tracks designed by big-name architects like Pete Dye and Tom Fazio.
Marriott Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra: The star attraction here is the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course, the one with the famous island green, where the world's best golfers gather annually for The Players Championship.
PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens: Some of the biggest names in course design are represented here, including Nicklaus, Fazio and Arnold Palmer.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Destin: Gulf breezes help keep you cool in hot summers at this mammoth resort in the Florida panhandle.
June 14, 2007
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Play 18 holes by noon, head to the beaches, then enjoy ultra-fresh seafood at a rustic oyster bar, and you'll quickly understand the good life. Here are 10 reasons to plan a golf vacation to Florida's Panhandle.
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