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Florida's best golf resorts unlock the magic of Sunshine State golf

Tim McDonaldBy Tim McDonald,
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The Doral Resort and Spa
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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.

But Florida golf isn't just about the plethora of 18-hole golf courses. Florida has some of the world's finest golf resorts. Here's WorldGolf.com's tally of the best.

Top Florida golf resorts

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.

The seaside Ocean Links at Amelia Island Plantation is short but challenging, and marsh comes into play often on the Intracoastal Waterway-bordering Oak Marsh course.

Florida golf resorts: the best of the rest

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.

Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra: A Florida institution since the Roaring '20s, this oceanfront resort south of Jacksonville has two options for golfers, the Ocean course and the Lagoon course.

Mission Inn, Howey in the Hills: Offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of Orlando, the Mission Inn has two courses, including the excellent El Campeon.

Florida golf resorts: Honorable mention

World Golf Village, St. Augustine;
Palm Coast Resort, Palm Coast; The Breakers, Palm Beach; Saddlebrook, Wesley Chapel;
PGA Village, Port St. Lucie.

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Amelia Island PlantationWorld Golf Village - Slammer and SquireCopperhead course at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club
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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.

 
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